Fabulous Friday

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.

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2 Responses to Fabulous Friday

  1. tiredmom says:

    My husband and I also love to watch Parenthood together. We actuallly have a 10-year-old son with Asperger’s and the way they have included Asperger’s in the storyline was what intrigued us to watch from the first episode. We also talk about and judge how we think they handle different things that happen on the show. The episode you’re talking about really hit us. The line “are you happy?” caused a lot of discussion between us because our Aspie son is very happy, seemingly, with simple pleasures — being able to do computer programming on his favorite games website, read a book, play with legos, eat a treat after dinner. The length of time he can spend happily alone before he seeks out a hug or some people-interaction is so much longer than our neuro-typical son (his younger brother). He doesn’t constantly ask for playdates like his brother does (and thank god, because he doesn’t have a long list of friends to call upon). I worry–a lot–like any mom, about how happy he will be throughout life, but then I think that maybe because he is so able to entertain himself and enjoy his alone-time pursuits, perhaps he has a lot more power over his happiness than most people. Then I read something like the following and it makes me realize that he’s no different than the rest of us: The NY Times asked readers to submit six-word love stories. One of the submissions brought tears to my eyes: “Asperger man marries. Everything changes forever.”

    • @tiredmom Thank you for sharing your personal story. Isn’t it interesting that the very attributes that make your Aspie son different are also what may help him to find happiness (or contentment, which is, I think, what we’re really aiming for) more easily than others? I love the six-word love story you shared. Oh, how I’d like to be able to communicate so powerfully in so few words!

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