Monday, August 12, 2013

WE the people

A little over two weeks ago we were on Nightly News with Brian Williams. It was surreal. Now that time has passed, I feel like it was possibly just a really cool dream that I had. The actor from 30 Rock News Anchor, Brian Williams shared our World Changing blog, and now he even reads it too. Okay, I'm kidding about the him reading it part, but just in case, Hello Mr. Williams. Super of you to stop by. 

The day our story aired on NBC, Life with Greyson + Parker had over 11,000 hits. I am still all kinds of grateful.

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And today it was just you and me, sharing these words together. And WE the people generated 10,000 hits today alone. That is insane. It's a powerful reminder that no voice is too small. All it takes is one person sharing and changing the world at a time. The NBC National News is not a force bigger than you and me put together. Mind blowing really.

To everyone that shared or read yesterday's blog post, thank you. For all the Teachers reading it to your own classrooms, you have no idea how grateful we are. To those of you reading the letter to your children and printing it and sharing it with your child's teachers, you are amazing. You all reminded me that world changing and kindness must begin in the home.

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Over the weekend we were playing at the park. I heard a scream coming from another child a few feet away. It sounded just like Greyson's Stage 4 flip out, melt down scream. Like when we went out to eat and they cut his hot dog the wrong way and he was in a MOOD.

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True story. Cut lengthwise down the center. With black char marks all over it. What were they thinking?! It was ugly.

I frequently hear about how much it upsets parents of spectrum kids when people stare when their child is having a melt down. I don't call them tantrums. Typical kids have tantrums. I have tantrums. Grey has nuclear melt downs, complete with an ear murdering scream. He short circuits somewhere inside his Super Powers and just loses it. 

In the past two years of dealing with The Scream, I've only had a couple boobs say something lame to me. Even though I find myself caring what others think more than I'd like - I don't care if people look or stare when Grey freaks out. It doesn't bother me at all. I'm either concerned about Grey, working to calm him while making sure he doesn't slam his head as he falls to the ground, or I'm concerned about ME- because I'm in a MOOD and I really need to work to keep it together. 

It's funny how autism can be EXTREMELY difficult on days that I'm in a terrible mood-and that exact same autism can be no problem at all on days that I am happy and glued together. It helped me realize that MY behavior has LOTS to do with handling autism's behaviors.

So Sunday at the park I hear The Scream coming from another child. It took every ounce of my will power to make sure I didn't look, you know- so the parent didn't feel judged.

And that terrible scream continued. Suddenly I see the Dad rush over and I realize the little guy was actually hurt, he fell and smacked his mouth on the metal playground equipment. He was standing just a few feet away from me and I didn't look or even help. I felt terrible.

And I realized, The Scream actually does sound a lot like the cry of a hurt child. Something about it is alarming and different. Piercing. Every time I've stared at a screaming child in the past, it's truly been a gut reaction. My head jerks toward the sound of the noise. I wonder- Is someone hurt? Are they okay? Is the Mom around? Is the Mom okay? What's going on?  I can see why people may feel judged, because it's a stressful situation with you and your child in a bright spot light, but I hope and I believe they are mostly looks of compassion and understanding.

And I realized I desperately want to live in a society where we are concerned and we immediately turn and look when a child is screaming. I think that's partially The Village it takes to raise them, and we are working together to keep our Littles safe.

If someone is looking at you, if someone is judging your parenting, screw them. They don't get it. They don't get a vote about your parenting skills. You are doing amazing. It is hard work. Just take care of your bitty and take care of precious you. Remember, WE are the people. Together we are strong. 

I remember hanging out on Montana Street near a block away from my apartment in Santa Monica, California. I was waiting for my yoga class to start. A homeless man walked up to me and asked me for a cigarette. 

I'm sorry, I don't smoke, I told him, and he went nuts. He had a plastic grocery bag in his hand which he threw at me. A piece of ham fell out and landed on me and stale broken bread crumbs cascaded all around like glitter. A special kind of torture because I really really hate ham. I don't know if you've ever been hammed before but shiny old lunch meat is the worst kind of torture. And this poor man was mentally ill because then he started screaming at me, inches away from my face saying I was involved with a government conspiracy.  But the point of the story that frightened me the most wasn't this man. It wasn't even the shiny ham (shudder). It was that people were walking by the entire time and didn't even glance over at us. 

We need each other to care and to notice.

There is a certain childlike innocence that is so welcomed and beautiful and the biggest kind of honest there is. At our same park visit over the weekend, Greyson was deeply engrossed in his swinging. Happy

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Can he talk? The little girl next to us asked after witnessing our exchange for a few minutes. So very observant. She is my greatest ally in World changing, my heart's love- honest, brave and CURIOUS. If a parent was around they may have shushed her for a question I was happy to answer. I was a curious Little too, a trait that helped me navigate the World and still does in fact. 

No, he can't. But when you talk to me and talk to him, it helps teach him though, I said. 

It does? How? She asked, intrigued. 

Because we are showing him by example. He gets to hear what conversations and words are supposed to sound like.

Oh, cool. Hi Greyson! She was not at all put off when he didn't look at her or respond. 

Grey-Tell our Friend hi. Look at her, I requested. And with a glance so quick you may have missed it, he said hi- and you could tell by her smile just how proud she was for teaching him.

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He will be able to talk when he is 6. I am 6 so that's how I know, she told me. And it was obvious by her confidence that she believed in him. 

And my throat did that thing when it gets tight and I can't stop swallowing and my eyes water. Shoot, it's happening again now as I type. I looked at Greyson. It was like I was in the middle of Hollywood magic. My heart was flowing over with love from the goodness of one girl. Even the lighting was exceptional- golden and glowing. The air was warm with a faint breeze blowing.

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And we were world changing and swinging, all at the same time. Perfection. I looked at Greyson with a deep gratitude for that moment. A moment that never would have existed if not for Grey's Super Powers. I love you, Grey, I said. You are amazing. 

What did he do amazing?! Our new friend asked.

We don't have to do things to be amazing, sometimes we just are, I told her... Because that's the truth.

I wanted to tell our Friend that Greyson has autism. But the world isn't there yet. I hope to help take it there one day. I didn't want to scare her or create a conversation her mother may not want her to have yet. Awareness begins at home.

We made it through our Monday my Friend. High Five. Well done you and me. I was so proud of myself for not PUSHING when the door said PULL at my 7:30am (UGHHH) Physical Therapy apointment this morning. Baby miracles I tell ya. We just gotta look for them.

With Love and LOADS of gratitude,


Life with Greyson + Parker on FACEBOOK.


  1. Thank you for this tonight. Beautiful words. So honest and true. Children are so perfect in their curiosity and lack of judgement. And their faith. Oh, man, that faith.

  2. Oh man, you don't play fair. Tears again. You are amazing, as well my friend.

  3. You are not only a great mother, person, and photographer,but you have a wonderful way of expressing your stories. Thank you!

  4. I finally got to watch the video clip (we were away when you first posted it) - wow - so great that is got national news coverage. I love the exchange you shared with the 6 year old girl at the park.
    Proud of everyone in that scene.
    Just wanted to take the time to comment tonight.
    I know you have many silent cheerleaders too.
    To use a Momastery quote, "Carry On Warrior" !

  5. I have been reading your blog for a week now. My twins are 10 years old, one is autistic the other is just on the spectrum. Life was harder when they were little, the melt downs much closer together. Nowadays i can't say that there are many of them, more like one one minute scream and it's over. We can go to waterparks, and quick dinners, Disney, etc., something that we didn't even want to think about when they were younger. Your words are inspiring and your children or absolutely beautiful. I love stopping in daily and reading up on them. I am here to tell you that one day things just kinda change and it gets easier in some ways harder in others. I can't say it's smooth sailing but its sailing. Keep on keeping on.

  6. So beautiful!!! Keep going with this---it's important, and everyone needs to know!

  7. Lovely way to wake up, reading about the goodness of people and the amazingness of superpowers. Also- great observation about your mood and the mood of the littles. My littles don't have superpowers, but we sure had a lot of screaming yesterday. And you know what? I started it (um, the bad moods, not the screaming).
    School starts today here. I'm going to send some encouraging messages to my fellow teachers of kids with super powers, its the first year I won't be joining them in about 5 years. Encouragement inspired by you. =)

  8. Way to Monday through, friend :)
    I'm a looker. I mean, when a child cries or screams I look. I can't help it. But never with judgement. If I see it is a tantrum or meltdown, I try to make eye contact with the parent & give a empathetic look or smile.
    I'm quite awkward, so I enjoy hearing your conversations when talking about Super Powers. I don't ever want to overstep or invade a stranger's privacy or space, so I may be the Mom that shushes questions. But, now I will be slower to shush, based on the reaction. Thanks for sharing.
    Love & happiness to you, sweet Momma. Jennifer
    PS - Hi to Brian Williams if you are reading. I love you slightly more than my husband would like :)

  9. Yet another of your wonderful posts that brought me to tears. Yes, we are all amazing. Thank you for continuing to share your amazing family with us.

  10. I love the innocence and curiosity of little ones. Don't you wish we all could easily ask the questions on our minds, politely and innocently? I do. One time a little girl tripped right in front of me at a wedding reception. I didn't know what to do. I was embarrassed after a random man picked her up, and I realized I should have helped in one way or another. I will try harder to be there for those who fall, especially the littles.

  11. I totally get this! I really do! Thank you so much for laying your soul bare for us. It's awfully hard for me to do that, much as I talk. It's good to know we are not alone.

  12. I needed this tonight, thank you. Thank you very much. I am becoming a mama in January and we just learned not too long ago that I am a carrier for Fragile X and that our baby may be affected. I lost it for awhile there. Mostly about not being capable myself to care for my own child and then a lot about how others may treat my child if he were affected. We got news from my amnio that he is a carrier but doesn't have a full mutation of the gene but I was still worrying about how others may treat him if he does display symptoms of FXS, this calmed my heart. Thank you again. :)

  13. Beautiful exchange with the little girl.

  14. LOVE this one, and this little girl. My typical, chatty 4-year old girl is noticing that people come in all different colors. She doesn't judge or prefer one color over another, but comments on the differences. It makes me uncomfortable, but this is a reminder to me that we lead our kids by example - if we love and accept everyone, they will too. Thank you.