My husband and I enjoy watching the television program Parenthood because we can relate to some of the characters as parents, children, siblings, employees…. Sometimes a family interaction will inspire solidarity between us (“we would never handle that situation that way”) and other times it will stimulate debate and strong disagreement. The show’s writers have a remarkable ability to tap into the issues facing adults at our stage in life.
In a recent episode, the parents of a young boy with Asperger’s throw a birthday party for their child and are surprised to learn the featured entertainer, Amazing Andy, is an adult with Asperger’s. Seemingly for the first time, the parents face the reality that their son will, some day, be an adult with Asperger’s.
At the end of the party the father asks Amazing Andy “are you happy?”
Amazing Andy blithely answers “sometimes”, then after a pause asks the father “are you?”
Wow, a one-two punch! My husband and I both felt it.
First, the father expressed what I believe all parents – of both typical and non-typical children – ultimately desire. Some assurance that when on their own, dealing with the ups and downs of life, our children will be happy.
Second is the stark realization that what we wish for our children – a constant state of happiness – is not what we experience ourselves. And that’s really OK.
“What makes you happy?”
Think for a moment how you’d answer this question, then watch and see what other people said.