Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gunship Dad

One of the most popular pejoratives for parents these days is Helicopter Mom.  We've all known some.  They're easy to spot.  They shelter their child from any risk of pain, whether real or perceived.  Always willing to run roughshod over other children, parents, educators, store owners, etc., they are the bane of everyone around them, particularly their children.  Truth be told, those of us with special kids have to fight REALLY hard not to fall into this category.  

This entry is an homage to my ally Debi Taylor.  If you haven't checked her blog Spirit of Autism, you're missing a great resource.  Her recent entry Am I a Helicopter Mom presents an amazingly clear view into our battle to balance filtering between our special people and the world vs. giving them the space to just "be".  It also brought me to a realization.  As usual, I find myself in my own unique category.

Growing up the only Tourette's kid around in rural Louisiana in the 1970's, was no blessing.  In fact, it was down right brutal.  It made me hard.  My tolerance for those who mistreat "special people" is nonexistent.  I can scarcely tolerate snotty looks toward any special kid I know, much less my own.  I carry the "autism cards" in my wallet.  My rapier wit is scalpel sharp.  I have a cold stare that would freeze lava, and a low, rumbling "voice of disdain" that would make Darth Vader soil himself. 

Yes folks.  I am a "Gunship Dad".

For those unfamiliar with military jargon, a "gunship" is a helicopter that is heavily armored and ready for war.  It has the best radar and most devastating weapons that its frame can carry.  It can hover with the best of them, but generally remains hidden.  When the enemy appears, it rises above the trees and delivers hot, screaming death onto all hostile parties.

I confess.  It's a fitting analog for how I've been since Nathan's diagnosis.  There's only one problem.  Nobody needs killing these days.  The vast majority of humanity handles Nathan really well.  Those who don't are few and far between.  Current social norms are such that the peer pressure alone seems to suppress them into "acceptable behavior".  I've come to realize that, to a large degree, I'm a hovering relic.

I like to think that the mere suspicion of "hovering savagery" is helping people behave, but deep down, I'm not sure.  If it isn't working, don't tell me.  I like my delusion.

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