My kids are the greatest kids in the world. Seriously. They are the cutest, funniest, and most lovable little people that I have ever met on this Earth. If someone took your kids, your grandkids, your nieces, and your nephews, and put them all in a lineup with my kids, I would choose my kids every time. I’d walk right over to them. It wouldn’t even take me a second to think about it.
Here’s the thing, though. If I then took that same lineup of kids and had you do the same, you’d pick yours. You’d walk right past mine as if they were part of the décor and proudly choose your own. You’d probably have the same itemized list, resume, and PowerPoint presentation to explain what makes yours the best in the world, just as I do.
When you do this, I won’t be offended. Why? Because they’re the kids in your life, not mine. You love them above all else. Most of the things that make them special to you might induce an eyeroll from another parent claiming, “Every kid does that.” To be honest, that’s usually true. But it’s the way your kids do those things that make them seem so much more impressive to you.
It’s that intangible piece that anyone outside your circle can’t feel. It’s that one thing that can’t be easily explained or pointed to on a big screen. It’s what makes them most special to you and, while not necessarily looked down upon by anyone else, not so mind-blowingly amazing either.
That’s fine. In fact, that’s the way it should be. It would be kind of creepy if it wasn’t.
My son is the best son in the world. Just look at his face.
Wow. Is that him? Is that his face? Your kid is amazing. Man, my kid sucks. Trade me. Dude, trade me!
That never happens. No rational person will ever react that way. It isn’t how it’s done and it’s not why I’m telling you about how wonderful my children are. In fact, if you responded like that, it would be creepy.
I tell you about my children because I am proud of them, not because it’s an affront to someone else’s kids or some desire to show them that mine are better than theirs. I’m not competing or bragging. The stories I tell and the achievements I list are all out of pride for what I have. What someone else may have has no effect on me. Your kids can be physicists or rodeo clowns. It doesn’t matter. That’s your house. This is mine.
When I first started writing about my family, one of my goals was to introduce my son, who is non-verbal with Autism, to those who might otherwise never know him. I wanted to show others that he is not an anchor around our necks. He’s a phenomenal boy who brightens our days in so many ways. I speak about him with the same glowing praise that I do for his sister, who doesn’t have Autism.
It’s easy to feel that those uneducated to Autism might view us with pity. In our day to day interactions with others, there are plenty of conversations that shine a light on that. You hear it in their voices or see it in the expressions on their faces. Sometimes they just outright say it. I wish I had the time to explain to every single one of them all that they’re missing when viewing us from an outside point of view. He has Autism, but to us, he’s perfect.
Nothing makes me happier than having this opportunity to share stories of my kids with the world. When I do, I do it like a Dad. These are my kids. These are the best kids on Earth. No one compares. Blah, blah, blah, and all that. It’s the literary equivalent of opening my wallet to a cascading series of pictures bound in plastic for you to politely stare at.
It wasn’t long after starting, though, before I saw a message from a reader who felt offended by one of my posts. The reason? She thought I was saying that children with Autism were better than children without Autism.
I stared at that comment for a while. It really threw me for a loop. I mean, on a rare occasion, I might feel looked down upon by some sanctimonious soccer mom who thinks her little monster choking chipmunks in the park is better than my non-verbal angel from Heaven. That I’ve dealt with. I have never even considered that someone might think I was saying that Autism makes him better than another kid, much less experienced it.
So, let me make one thing clear. Autism doesn’t make my son the best boy in the world. The fact that he’s my son makes him the best boy in the world.
The same can be said for my daughter. She tells jokes and engages in “clever wordplay”, as she once told me, but even if she woke up tomorrow and decided to never speak another word again, she’d still be the best girl on this planet. That’s because she too is mine.
Your kids shouldn’t be a competition. No one cares. I don’t. The people who do care aren’t the people you want to impress anyway and, truth be told, you never will. You’ll just end up living your life for someone else. Instead, I just see my kids as the best in the world because they are mine. The beauty of it all is that if everyone else does the same thing, then we’ll all have the best kids in the world.
Who wouldn’t want to live in a world like that?