Understanding Social Norms

This afternoon I took Cooper and my baby for a walk.

If you have followed me for a while then you know that my son is thriving. It’s obvious in my posts.

I like to say we are all settling into autism. Me. My husband. Sawyer. And Cooper.

Our whole family.

We are all learning. We have calmed down. We rarely get shocked anymore.

And Cooper is doing so great.

We have started venturing out into our community. Daily. We keep trying. Pushing.

But I never, ever take my boys out alone. Cooper needs one to one.

But today, it was raining. And the cabin fever was getting too much to handle.

Knowing that people wouldn’t be out, I felt brave.

So, off we went. Me pushing the baby and Cooper walking in front of me. Then behind me. Then next to me.

Then in the road. Then on the sidewalk. Then in someone’s grass.

Then he stops. Bends down. Picks up something black and slimy. Smells it. I gasp. And he laughs.

Then throws it in the road where it explodes into some gooey mess.

Then he licks his hands. Which I calmly say, ‘no’ again. ‘Don’t lick that. Yuk!’

And off we go.

We stop at the community mailbox. He touches every single number. But only once he gets my attention first. He needs me to quiz him.

‘Show me number 8 Super Duper. Number 12. Number 1.’

Once satisfied, he claps.

The neighbor waiting to get his mail smiles and says hello to both of us.

And off we go. On the curb. In the road.

He sits for a second on the wet blacktop. Only to squeal. Jump up. Bend over. Point to his wet butt. And say, ‘YUK.’

And we are off again.

Then he is dancing. I believe it’s Barney playing on his Kindle.

He grabs my hands from the stroller and we twirl for a minute.

Then we are off again.

He runs up to a house to touch their house numbers.

And back down the driveway.

Then he runs up to a car window. It’s wet from the rain. He runs his hands down it and puts them in his mouth.

Looks at me. Smiles that beautiful smile. And promptly licks the window.

‘Cooper, no. Yuck.’

And off he runs. Laughing again.

At one point he is in someone’s garage.

Then he is shaking the trees that line the road. They are newly planted and for some reason he likes to shake them. I know this isn’t okay.

So, we talk through it. I redirect him.

And off we go. Barely moving, yet running at the same time.

We get home. We were gone 30 minutes.

I am so thankful to be outside. And yet I breathe a huge sigh of relief.

We made it home.

No one yelled at us. No one said anything. Cooper didn’t cause any damage.

I didn’t have to chase him. I didn’t have to panic.

Although, I’ve learned, that the anticipation of the panic is just as bad as the panic itself.

As I sit here now drinking my coffee, I am thinking about social norms.

You know those societal rules that we are supposed to follow.

Don’t run in the street. Or dance there either.

Don’t lie on the ground.

Don’t lick windows.

Or scream for no reason.

Don’t walk into a strangers garage. Or touch their house numbers.

Sit in chairs.

Keep your clothes on.

Walk in a straight line.

I could go on and on.

Societal rules are real. They are here to keep order.

Except my son knows nothing of them. Not a clue.

Please know we work on them daily. But so many of them just don’t make sense to Cooper.

Many of you will comment that Cooper is living his best life. He is enjoying every second.

And that he doesn’t need to worry about those rules.

And you are all right…to an extent.

But to live safely he needs to know those rules.

So, I worry. I worry that I won’t be able to keep him safe. That he’ll break some rule.

Run in front of a car. Go onto the wrong person’s porch.

Put something dangerous in his mouth.

And I won’t be able to protect him.

He will be a man someday. I am already noticing that people act different towards him at age 8.

8 is different than a cute little toddler.

I also want you to know that I am not trying to change my son. I love him just the way he is. But safety is very, very important.

I’ve learned that I can’t change the world. I can’t control people’s reactions. Or make them be nice.

And at the same time, I can’t always control my son. I’m doing my best. So is his dad. We are trying to teach him.

And we can’t give up. Not ever. We just need to stay one step ahead at all times I guess.

Social norms are here to keep people safe. But it is our job as his parents to keep him safe.

And there is so much stress and exhaustion that goes into that.

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Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

 

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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