To Every Season

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together~ Turn, Turn, Turn, The Byrds

I follow a number of bloggers, many writing about Autism. Several have young children and over the last 5-6 years I’ve read their posts about their kiddos growing up and doing things they never expected. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have wanted to reach into my computer, pat those parents on the shoulder and tell them it will all work out.

I know it’s human nature to not take advice. I’m human, really. I don’t always listen. I have learned that other people have been through what I’m now dealing with in my life. I read their social media. I’d bet most of them don’t even know I’m stalking them; snatching up every crumb of information I can as I struggle with new problems.

I wish I could tell these parents of Autistic kids that it will all work out. Do not confuse that with “it will all be okay” because it won’t. Okay is a term people use like a consolation prize. Every one of us has to grow and change at our own pace to become the best people we can. Things may not always turn out the way we want, but each experience provides opportunities to see the world differently. To accept that different is not less. To embrace change all around us as a good thing instead of a moment of sheer panic.

I wish someone would tell me it will all work out. I wish I had a shoulder to turn to when the scary things run through my mind. So I understand not saying things out loud as a protective measure. But at the same time, I wish I could throw a pity party that other people would come to and pat me on the shoulder.

Many paths to our destinations. None are inherently wrong. Some are tougher than others. Sometimes we need a push to get moving. In the end, we will all end up just where we are meant to be.


Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it’s right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.~ W. Clement Stone

I am apparently a bully in the Autism community. I guess I didn’t understand that I’m not supposed to take “sides” or “support” anything but the name “Autism.” The idea of Autism as a disability is “safe.” Only upbeat and positive posts are “safe.” Isn’t that how the community got into this mess?

I posted a few weeks ago about “Vaguebooking” where people only talk about the very best parts of life. (  They don’t post about struggles, challenges or anything that **could** make them appear to be different. It’s like reading fairy tales all day long.

To be fair, not all the people on my friends list do this. But of the 30 or so people connected to the Autism community, only a handful post about anything but unicorns and rainbows. It’s okay if that’s what you want to post. Just don’t be angry with me for putting a damper on what you post.

Guess what? By only posting about unicorns and rainbows, people think you’ve got it all under control. That you, or your child, never struggle. That every therapy you’ve tried has been miraculous. That every diet adjustment made is a cure. It skews what people think about Autism. If you don’t live with Autism and all you read about are unicorns and rainbows, that must be what Autism is all about.

And then, tragedy hits. Again. The unicorn did a variation on what horses do. It got mad. It got ornery. But, it’s still a unicorn. Some people with unicorns can understand how someone tried to hurt their unicorn. They feel the unicorn is to blame for, well, acting like a unicorn. Others, in fact the vast majority, feel that hurting a unicorn is bad. Very, very bad. Don’t they know how precious and valuable unicorns are?

The reality is, unicorns poop. They mash the grass with their hoofs. They have to be fed special diets. They require grooming. And time, lots and lots of time. It’s hard work keeping a unicorn safe and happy. But we do. Many, many of us get up every day knowing how hard things are and yet, we keep our unicorns safe and warm and healthy and happy.

It never crossed my mind to kill my unicorns. Yes, they look different from horses. Yes, they act different from horses. But they’re my special unicorns. My gift of magic to cherish and take care of forever. Taking care of them is harder than taking care of a herd of horses. But the beauty I see when they’re around makes it all worth it.

So call me a bully. Label me wrong. Yell out Instigator! Because it’s true. I support self-advocacy. I support stricter legislation for caregivers who harm their disabled charges. I support boycotting an organization that tells people that Autism is a crisis. That Autism is a violent, daily struggle. That Autism must be cured.

I don’t want horses. Unicorns are awesome! If you were to take away their magic, unicorns would be just horses. You’ll work just as hard tending a horse as you will tending a unicorn. A horse means you’re just like everyone else. If that’s your goal, go for it. Try every diet, cure and therapy in hopes of taking away the magic. I choose to love and nurture my unicorns.

Because without a little magic, the world looks a lot dingier.


I recent link on social media leads to a confession by Steve Jobs that he recognized how “bad” technology can be for kids so he limited his kids’ exposure . Lots of comments ensued, including many stating that tech kills young brains, with the majority of parents of young children stating that they agreed. I had to put this on paper.

Seriously. I can’t even go to a restaurant without seeing some kid glued to a screen. Movie theater. Church. Wal-Mart. Driver’s license office. Doctor’s office. Vehicle (yes, I can see the video screens in the minivan in front of me). It’s the new, improved pacifier for older kids. And I’m supposed to believe all these people who state they only allow 30 minutes a day? Perhaps you should clarify and add 30 minutes per location, per day.

Technology is not some evil thing you need to banish from life. You are not a bad parent or person for incorporating tech into your life. It’s a different world out there than even 5 years ago. We literally have the world at our fingertips. And, kids are sponges. Kids have a knack for learning all about things before parents even know the thing existed. Innocence is very short-lived, regardless of your parenting choices.

Yes, kids need guidance and rules as they learn about the world. That applies whether the topic is not running into the street while playing or learning how to play Minecraft. Yes, you need to teach your kids how to balance their lives. Yes, us adults need to remember that we need balance too. All play and no work makes Johnny a very poor boy.

Just drop the self-righteous bit. I sat at my kid’s events over the years and watched parents playing Candy Crush instead of playing attention to their kids. I see you handing over your phones and bringing tablets into places where you want your kids to behave. It’s ok. I used to bring coloring sheets and crayons with me everywhere.

Don’t lock your kids out of their future because someone told you they **never** allow their kids to access tech. Most likely, they’re not being truthful. Your kids **have** to know about technology in order to get a job. Yes, even operating a cash register now requires keyboarding skills. You don’t have to go overboard. You can still monitor it.

If you expect your kids to abuse tech, then you should probably look at yourself. You are their role model. Monkey see, monkey do. If you’re not willing to go outside with your kids, then the message is that part of life isn’t as important as Candy Crush.

A thousand times a day your life is touched by tech. It’s not the enemy. Like all things, moderation goes a long way.




Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.~ David Ogden Stiers

Over the last few days, I’ve seen multiple stories in the media about families. A woman who has 15 kids now is demanding that someone, not her, take responsibility for them. A 5-year-old girl has been missing for two years and her family no longer mourns her. A young man was killed in a drive by shooting a year ago and his mother is still passing out flyers asking for anyone with information to come forward. A teenaged mother threw her newborn over a fence so her parents wouldn’t find out she had been pregnant. All this is swirling around my head, begging me to ask how did we as a community reach this crazy place?

I admit I was raised under rather traditional rules. My parents are immigrants (hence the Gaelic title of this entry) and raised us how they were raised. Even in the 70s, my childhood friends would comment on how weird we were. We ate dinner together almost every night. My parents were present at our activities. They were involved in our schools and communities. Discipline came swift and hard to violations of the house rules. My friends laughed at my curfews, since they had none. They laughed at the boundaries of my life, daring me to bike further from home in defiance of the rules. I remember believing that my mother was omniscient as I was always called out on those transgressions. Turns out she just knew someone in every part of my life who would call her and tell her I was misbehaving.

I look at all the “family” things that make the news and wonder how anyone could stop missing their child. How anyone could just give up. How anyone could abandon a child. The families that keep fighting are becoming less noticeable. The only place I saw news of Joe Bell being mowed over in Utah while on his walk against bullying was on social media. The family of a New York teen with Autism is raising money to offer a reward for the safe return of their son who wandered away from school almost two weeks ago, also on social media. A Florida family is trying to get the word out about concussions because their child died after a football collision, again on social media. Broadcast media is still going with “if it bleeds, it leads” and has no interest in sharing these stories.

I don’t think I will ever understand parents who have such callous disregard for their children. I hope my three children know that the village that raised them will welcome them back anytime. I’m pleased that they already seek to find the good in people and to work towards improving their communities. Because that’s what it’s about. Accepting responsibility, building community, strengthening relationships and knowing that your family has your back.

And just in case you missed it in previous posts, family is not defined by blood. Surely that is one of the first things most of us experience as children. But as we grow older, family becomes those we choose to allow into our lives. If each of us refused to leave others behind, I think humanity just might have a chance.


Most children threaten at times to run away from home. This is the only thing that keeps some parents going.~ Phyllis Diller

Parenting. The final frontier. Bravely going where no one has gone before. Well, sort of. We’ve all had parental figures in our lives. Yet, each one of us has some quirky little things that others do not. In others words, parenting is a journey we make with others, on parallel and occasionally intersecting paths.

I have 3 biological children in my life in addition to scores of others that have been passed through my hands as a teacher, Scout leader and child advocate. A couple of days ago, I was in a conversation with my youngest about the benefits of being the youngest. My point was, I made all of my parenting mistakes on her siblings. Her point was, I still make far too many mistakes.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Not to mention being reminded of it daily now by my youngest. I found out today that I hadn’t taught my son how to address an envelope. My oldest is still trying to figure out how to put together “outfits” of a professional style. And my youngest told me yesterday that her life would be so much easier if I’d just get a clue. Ah, yes, the grand times of parenting. Yet, it is strangely fulfilling to hear them whine and realize that if that’s all I did “wrong,” I’m pretty darn lucky.

This blog is a short one on purpose. I have more mistakes to go make…..