I Will Shake Your Foundation

Until you live the life of an autism Mom, you simply have no idea what's it's like to send your child out into a world that is nowhere near ready to embrace her.
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Danny Bonaduce used that line in his reality show. Danny launched into the jealous husband mode threatening to "shake your foundation" (which I gather means "beat the crap out of") to the guy who made the mistake of admiring Mrs. Bonaduce. I am utterly on the same page as Danny when it comes to my kids. Do not look askance at them lest I rip into you. But today my own foundation shook a bit.

My three girls have autism. As such, they have the privilege of attending summer school for free! And today was field trip day. My elementary school children, Gianna and Bella, were going to a farm. No problem there.

My middle school daughter, 12-year-old Mia, was off to the mall with her class. Mia's summer school class might be called the "MH" room. MH stands for "multiple handicaps." Yeah, it's an old name, but the schools haven't found an acronym for "the hodge podge of kids who cost us a small fortune" that trips off the tongue, so "MH" it is.

Some of the children in her class are obviously and profoundly challenged. Some are physically disabled and also hard to miss. My Mia looks typical at first glance. She is tall, slender, has big blue eyes and thick, shining brown hair.

As I prepared breakfast I envisioned the mall full of middle school girls shopping for back-to-school clothes with Mom. Rolling their eyes as Mom searched for demure outfits while they sought out miniskirts to display their pre-teen scoodly doodly to the boys. Grabbing t-shirts that read "Tramp in Training" and giggling. And then noticing the clutch of special education children, including my Mia, lumbering toward them. And staring.

Hot tears spilled down my cheeks as I packed Mia's snack and few bucks for a new hair scrunchy. (Part of the trip means making a purchase so the kids can practice their social skills.) All I could think of was the ostracizing glares from the kids in the mall. Kids who would be l laughing at my Mia and thinking rotten thoughts. I became seriously sad.

If you have a typical child who can laugh with friends and take care of her own safety, and yes, choose her own clothing, slutty or otherwise, for God's sake get on your knees and give thanks. Do NOT tell me that you're tired of your kids' sleepovers or that soccer camp is so expensive or that you look fat in your swimsuit so you just "hate" summer. I look great in a swimsuit. You wanna swap lives?

Until you live the life of an autism Mom, you simply have no idea what's it's like to send your child out into a world that is nowhere near ready to embrace her. Some days it slaps you upside your head a little harder than others.

I assumed I'd feel more like my usual buoyant self in time. After all, I'm "Kimelastic." I have to bounce back. That's my job. But at that moment, thinking about my Mia in the damn mall, I started to crumble.

I kissed the girls goodbye and loaded them onto their buses. Then I went inside to steam clean the carpets throughout my house. Autism takes its toll on more than just people and there's never any extra money to pay someone else to tackle those chores. Autism is expensive too.

The morning ticked by and Mia's bus rolled up to the house. She greeted me with her signature, "It's a Mom!" (Isn't that the best greeting ever?) We walked into the house hand in hand. My grip a little (OK, a lot) tighter than hers. I pulled the new scrunchy out of her bag. She smiled at me. I think she was proud of her purchase. And once again, my foundation was solid. But if you see my kids and give them any grief, I advise you to look out for your own foundation. I could pull a Bonaduce at anytime.

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