Thursday, August 19, 2010

Do You Have a Shirley Temple?

OK, so it's an extremely antiquated reference.  You young'uns out there will just have to Google it.  But one of my fellow draftees into the autism army and I have so bestowed this name on the typically-developing children in our extended families that are painfully close in age to our ASD kids.  You know the ones:  the super-precocious kids that sing and tap-dance circles around our kids, making their behaviors seem even more aberrant at family get-togethers.  In my friend's case, she and her sister-in-law were pregnant at the same time and were giving birth to the first grandchildren in the family.  They both ended up having boys within months of each other, and everything was going swimmingly with them being raised like brothers...until it wasn't going so swimmingly.

My friend went on to have two more boys, both typically-developing, which I always thought would help somewhat, but I think it just eats at her even more because now her younger sons are off playing with the older cousin while her ASD son is off...you know, doing what our kids do.

I bring this up because Audrey has a typical cousin who is about 9 months younger than her, and Shirley has been involved in every second of my father's wake, funeral mass, luncheon, burial, post-burial interpretive dance of his life, and I believe that as I write this she is carving his headstone and notarizing the will.   Fucking typical kids.

After exactly one nanosecond of hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing, I decided not to have Audrey attend any of the proceedings.  The burial was the one thing that I actually would have had her attend, but it fell on a day when I had her signed up for a final camp field trip.  EVERYONE asked me where she was at EVERY event.  My rationalization to them was that Shirley's mother is an in-law and thus didn't know as many people and could afford to do nothing else than follow her little girl around making sure that her ringlets weren't drooping.  There were many, many people in attendance that I hadn't seen in years, and I was so happy to be able to have more than a 10 second conversation with them without having to worry that Audrey was snatching cookies off of other people's plates or crashing the wake next door.

I'm lucky in the fact that I have an easier time avoiding my Shirley Temple than my friend does.  She has a big ethnic, extended family that seemingly has a party every weekend for one reason or another.  I don't know how she does it.  But I do know that she calls me after a lot of these parties just to hear me tell her what I always do...that her typical nephew is the butt-ugliest kid I've ever seen.  And we both laugh and laugh and forget that we were just crying out eyes out.  Until the next time.

26 comments:

  1. Aaaahhh...beautifully said...I also have a Shirley Temple or two dancing circles around my little man.

    I'm new to this game, and I have probably said "fucking typical kids" more often than any other phrase since his diagnosis...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow! Both my ASD kids have only typical cousins and I've never been brave enough to say "F-ing typical kids" out-loud.(I also went to to 12 years of Catholic school)Geehz, who knows what would happen?! My kids might be stricken with some type of horrible disorder
    ...um,..ur....again.

    Wait a minute...every single one of those students in Catholic school was a typical kid! They weeded out and "removed" or denied all of the "special" ones! And I hated all-girl Catholic high school! Fucking typical kids!
    That felt great.

    But seriously, -don't know why but within the last couple of years I feel more at peace with the "gap" in skills among the typical cousins and my girls -- EVEN the Shirley Temples. Even though they dance, read, and speak circles around my kids, I like how they treat them and my kids love them. It's the typical children of our friends that we don't see very often who STARE, bully or EXCLUDE, even when they know better. We need a 1930's stage-name for those kids. Little Rascals? Little Assholes? Spanky? Bratty? Jerk-Wheat?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love the quote from Steel Magnolias, "Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion." You have to get a laugh in when you can. Couldn't you have tripped Shirley during the interpretive dance?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Shirley doesn't sound very "typical"...I think she would get under my skin too :) That being said, I can only imagine how it must magnify your daughter's behavior...good for you for doing what is best for you and your daughter.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I almost refuse to be in the company of typical children, unless they are related to one of our type, and then I pretty much just want to rent them to come over to my house so I can have a co-operative child (read: show off) to homeschool for five minutes and to set an example to my own. But typical families who aren't in the club exhaust me. And typical children are, for the most part, butt-ugly, it's a known fact.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Well, I got the Shirley Temple right here in my own house -- the lovely and popular 2-years-older sister who plays soccer and piano, sings and hula-hoops, and reads way ahead of grade level, and has been impressing people with her vocabulary since the age of 15 months.

    Saving grace is that she's fiercely devoted to her little sister who has/does none of the above things except the good looks.

    I love the Shirley Temple idea. Right up there with Elvis Sightings as a cultural reference! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Ouch.. too much of a very sore truth here.
    Yes I am annoyed by the typical kids that are close to my sons age. Then I prompt him.. go and do the same ...if and when circumstances allow.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Love it!

    I have a nephew (stepbrother's son) who is four months younger than Brian that obviously is way beyond Brian. What irritates me is how clueless and bad parents my stepbrother and his girlfriend are and how they have this extremely bright little boy- it really pisses me off sometimes...

    ReplyDelete
  9. For some reason, I think you might appreciate this post. Shirley Temples are my nemisis..

    http://www.thecrackandthelight.com/2009/05/return-of-green-eyed-monster-momma-aka.html

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hehehehe.... oh Lynn... too funny. I actually had a Shirley Temple book, a filmography, that my parents gave me when I was a kid. Butterfly got a good laugh out of it. (Sing in a high, trembling voice: "On the goooood ship, Lollipop~~~") ;o) There's one notable difference here between the Shirleys and my Aspie though: Butterfly's heart is in the right place. Makes me proud. :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Don't have any Shirley relatives, some friends though.

    BTW, my Aspie LOVES Shirley Temple, lol!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. We have a few Shirley Temples in our life. One, who is 6 weeks older than our son, is going to start babysitting him this year. So its not all bad. Ugh. Yes it is. But at least we get a cheap sitter.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Even though i am WAY too young to catch the reference, but most kids around us are Shirley Temples. I hate them all. And their moms.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great post Lynn and so well written.

    WiiBoy is holding his own against the male Shirley Temples...would that be Dennis the Menace then?? Well, ALL boys are hyper, aren't they?? Or so we're told at the beginning!

    There was a time that he wasn't though so I do understand what you're saying. And there were family events that we didn't attend either.

    xx Jazzy

    ReplyDelete
  15. I think you made the right decision for you! It's ironic, because I call my daughter Shirley Temple sometimes because she LOOKS so much like her! I do hate when I see typical kids her age (or younger) who seem so much more sophisticated. It just makes me realize how much farther down the path she has to travel to appear "typical." I think it's the hardest aspect of having a high-functioning/Asperger child.

    ReplyDelete
  16. We have some Shirley's around us as well. Mostly our friends kids. The parents complain incessantly about all of their hardships...things like "she talks too much" or "he climbs on everything". I mean seriously? Do they remember who they're talking to? Apparently not. I suppose they're just really out to lunch when it comes to gauging their audience. I don't get it.

    And for the sake of full disclosure...their kid is really ugly too!

    ReplyDelete
  17. "fucking shirley" omg. that will be a thought bubble over my head for years to come.

    Also, sending good vibes and "stuff" in you general direction during this big life event. Sorry to hear about your father's passing.

    ReplyDelete
  18. "I believe that as I write this she is carving his headstone and notarizing the will. Fucking typical kids."

    I will be laughing my ass off over this one for at least a day and a half. Thanks Lynn!!!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Lynn, WIth all my time being taken up with this Florida move, I haven't been blog checking hardly at all. I didn't know your dad had passed away. I am so sorry and send you love and support in your grief. Grief is so hard. By some serendipity, I was trying to catch up on all of your posts that I missed in the last week or so, while we were driving back from visiting my dad before we leave. My dad is 103 and soon to be 104. He's become the sweetest, most lovable dad I had wished for all my life.
    But I was so conscious that now I will be a plane ride not a car ride away from him and that maybe it will be the last time we hug and kiss and treasure how much we love each other. I cannot imagine how it will be when he passes from this earthly plane. My heart feels for you.
    And now on to life with your beautiful soulful daughter and those fucking typical Shirley Temple kids who dance rings around Audrey and her compatriots.
    Here I have to say that having watched Shirley Temple's movies even as at Audrey's age, I wanted to VOMIT. Just the girl I should be and just the girl I would never, in any dimension of any reality, ever be.
    As far as dancing, we all have different tap shoes and interpretive dances, and that's who we are.
    For whatever reasons you decided not to bring Audrey to all of the doings surrounding your dad's death, the most important one is that you deserve your own private time to be in your grief with no distraction. Even fucking typical kids are a distraction at such painful moments.
    Now about fucking typical tap-dancing kids. I urge & prod you to be irreverent by definition. WIth people close to you, friends, family - why not say - Jeez, how boring it must be to have to live with such a fucking.
    typical kid.
    Lynn, I realize that I am talking from the outside and not from the inside your life - but I am way too irreverent myself to keep quiet. I hope you will tell me if you feel I am talking out of the side of my hat. Is that the expression?

    ReplyDelete
  20. while i have typical kids in our family and our son with aspergers too, we have a shirley on the inlaws side who is just the absolute delight and center of the in-law universe. It hurts. They don't like my son(s) and never will and thats their loss. I have tried to explain autism and add/hd to them but they don't understand and don't want to understand...

    ReplyDelete
  21. I think this is my most favorite blog post EVER. We also have a Shirley-cousin. We recently "enjoyed" a vacation together with his family...I found it so irritating how his "typical" behavior (which included tickling everyone's butts) was seen as so cute and pleasing. Meanwhile our daughter was telling everyone about her favorite Beatle(Paul) and her favorite Beatles' song (Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds) while her Shirley-cousin said his favorite song is Hey Diddle Diddle. Loser!

    ReplyDelete
  22. @Anonymous: Thanks for stopping by! I love your story. How can they not see that your daughter obviously has superior taste in music?!?!?! And butt-tickling? Please! Imagine if our kids were the ones doing that...not so cute I'll bet!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I too have a Shirley! My sister-in-law and I were pregnant at the same time. Her daughter is 3 months younger than my daughter. We see each other all the time since we live in the same small rural town (population 710). I used to cry coming home from birthday parties or holidays when people would say how "interesting it was how they were developing so differently". Now and can just laugh and think "Fucking Shirley Temples". Great to know there are other people out there dealing with the same things. Thank you for writing this blog!

    ReplyDelete
  24. @IzzyP: Thanks for stopping by! We definitely have to stick together...we are the only ones who know how hard that can be. And without even seeing your daughter, I can tell that she is sooo much cuter than her cousin :)

    ReplyDelete