Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bobby and life lessons

He was a year younger than me and we lived next door to each other since he was 4. In many ways he was just like any other boy. He would catch turtles, frogs, crawdads, fish, and any other creature of the creepy crawly variety from the nearby creek. He taught me where to hold a turtle so as not to be bitten. Taught me the different types of turtles and showed me soft shelled water turtles I had never seen or heard of before. He taught me that crawdads swim backwards and in order to catch one you had to have your net behind them.

He could walk, jump, and ride bikes with the best of us. He couldn't run very well, although his fist were balled up in front of him and pumping, his lower half didn't fully cooperate so he barely got up to a jog.

We played together often but as we got older I found less and less time for him. Truth was, as time went on I didn't like him much. I was getting more mature and engrossed in who liked who, and who said what about who while Bobby was still catching creepy crawlies. He was gross too, eating jelly and ketchup on eggs, rarely having his mouth closed. He would get off of the short yellow bus in the afternoons and if I was outside, he would declare to everyone that I was his girlfriend. At his house he would often come out of the bathroom without his pants. Though not something I cared to witness his was the first I ever saw of the male anatomy.

My Mom told me that Bobby was mentally retarded. When I asked what caused that to happen to him, she said these things happened sometimes when the Mother was malnourished during pregnancy. So I imagined my poor neighbor not being able to feed herself while pregnant and now having to pay the consequence.

This is what Connor has taught me;

1. That goofy run Bobby would do was the cutest, though I didn't think so at the time, I do now.

2. Bobby's Mother was not starved during pregnancy. She was/is a hardworking, brave, and caring woman that loves her son very much.

3. Either my Mom didn't like to admit she didn't know something or she was misinformed.

4. Autism and Mental Retardation are different animals when it comes to eye contact, communication, socialization. Bobby had no problems in these areas.

5. They are the same in that they both have special needs.

6. Don't judge a parent by the actions of a child.

7. I had been a very judgemental person.

8. Don't Judge!

9. I could have been a better friend to Bobby.

10. Sometimes it is the youngest and smallest that teach the best life lessons.


merry weather said...

Very true - the youngest can make us the humblest. Personally I think I've only really grasped some issues when I've experienced them first hand. Being open-minded is an excellent lesson for us all. If we were all less keen to judge each other immediately the world could be kinder - I don't know... :)

Great turtle picture - wow, we have nothing like that in England!

Anonymous said...

Children are well known to teach us the qualities of life. Children with special needs teach us a whole lot more. Whether we choose to digest their lessons is our choice.

Crystal xx

Suzy said...

Intersting, I was just talking about this today to my shrink and telling her that when I was much younger (I'm almost 60 now) there was only 1 label for a child who was autistic or had severe learning disabilities- and that word was "retarded". Thank God that today there are ways early on to diagnois and help kids and their parents and us to learn how to communicate and understand these children that bear special gifts and have special needs.

Swearing Mother said...

Hi Dgibbs, Just got back from my hols and started reading your recent posts - very, very interesting and moving as always.

Looking forward to reading the lot once I've unpacked.....

Best wishes.

Casdok said...

I have never learnt so much since having my son.

Self employed mum said...

Young children accept other children for who they are, it's only once we get older and realise they are 'different' we judge. It's human nature. Very touching post x

dgibbs said...

Merry weather, I try my best not to be judgemental anymore since I have seen what it's like at the other end. It's still something I have to work on though :)

Crystal, I have 2 girls that are much older than Connor and am still learning from them, but I think it took Connor to really open me up to the lessons. Did that make sense?

Suzy, It is scary that not so long ago there was only one label being handed out, and scarier there was also only one suggestion of help..Institution.

Swearing Mother, Ohh Holidays! Hope you had a great time. How's that beautiful car?

Casdok, Same here. I don't know what we would do without our guys.

Self Employeed Mum, That's true. I think us females must be more prone to it though. I know alot of guys that would like nothing better than to go to that creek with Bobby and catch stuff. :D

Suffolkmum said...

This was a very touching post. Lovely.