Right now my life is filled with the wonders of car washes. There are makeshift “brushes” hanging from doorways, little cardboard box car washes on the floor, cards from favorite car washes in my wallet and videos loaded onto YouTube from around the globe. To say Tot is into car washes right now would be an understatement. He loves them.
When he was into Cars, Tonka, Monster Trucks and Road Rippers it was no big deal. No one batted an eye when our entire house was filled to the brim with vehicles (and still is). After all, all boys love trucks right? But now that he is enamored with car washes it becomes strange. The excitement over new Cars cars was met with open smiles and understanding, but that same excitement over Tri-foam brings on half-hearted laughs and sideways glances.
I get that it is a little odd. I still find it a bit strange that there are hundreds of people in car wash communities on YouTube who continually upload different videos of them driving through car washes (and don’t get me started on the elevator groups), but honestly, is it really all that different?
How many little girls out there scream and go crazy over the new Frozen line or American Girl Dolls? How many boys freak out when they see their favorite superheroes or get that amazing toy they always wanted? How many kids out there have went utterly Sesame Street obsessed for a few years or have their room decked out with their favorite characters? Why is that more normal than my son’s favorite things?
This has been bothering me for a few days now. I thought I had a little more time before I had to really explain bullying and meanness to Tot, but a little while ago he noticed someone making fun of him. After getting through the Mama Bear anger, I just felt really sad. The unfortunate thing about being in this particular situation is that to confront it you only get two resolutions that I can see and all revolve around the, “Don’t make fun of a special needs child” and then the child either a) sees the other as damaged in some way and pities them or b) resents them and thinks less of them. Why not, teach your children not to make fun of him because he’s sweet, or nice? Why not teach them not to make fun of anyone?
In a perfect world I would rather everyone just see that it is okay to be excited about anything you love. It’s normal and not particular to ASD children. You don’t need to be special needs in order to feel passionate about something and although car washes might not be your child’s cup of tea, it doesn’t mean my son doesn’t see something magical about them.
Sometimes the idea of having to deal with meanness from people and children for the long haul really gets me down. To see Tot beginning to realize that some kids aren’t laughing “with” him breaks my heart. If he feels this strongly about his car washes, how do you think he feels about everything else? He is this incredible abundance of joy and any time I have to prick that with the reality of the world he is finding his way in just pains me.
I think it is such a small favor, such a tiny kind favor, to ask that people try to teach their kids to be kind to others – despite their difference. I’m not asking for anyone’s child to like my son. No one has to play with him and they certainly don’t have to enjoy car washes, but is it too much to ask that they be kind?
Because honestly, what is the difference between my son’s favorite things and yours?