Did You See Santa Bully Rudolph? 2

Rudolph

Rudolph has always been one of my favorite Christmas shows, but we were too busy to watch it when it was on a week ago, so my family and I watched last night.  Thanks to my fellow bloggers, I watched it with a fresh set of eyes.

You see Laura over at The House That Asperger Built had a post about it last week which involved much blogger discussion.  It started me thinking about a lot of things that really hadn’t occurred to me before.  Now obviously everyone knows Rudolph and his buddies were not treated very well.  That I got.  What I didn’t get was how the whole show was  about being cruel to those who are different.  When you look at it that way it makes you think.

My thoughts are that at the time Rudolph was made, it probably was meant to teach tolerance, but given today’s climate, it really does seem cruel.  I can certainly see why some of my fellow bloggers would not like it, so I have some questions for you.

Do you think Rudolph should have let Santa off so easy?  Remember I’m all about forgiveness, but even I can understand why many in the blogging community would think he shouldn’t have.  Still, I think Rudolph did the right thing.  It would have been nice if Santa had really changed, but that isn’t really clear in the story.  For those watching Charlie Brown tonight, what about Lucy?  Is she a “mean girl?”  Let me know if you think of others?

Do We Bully When We Strongly Disagree with Others? 3

People

I posted this on Facebook:

“I know many of my FB friends aren’t fans of President Obama, and he has let me down in some areas too. However, all of you have to admit that he and his family do seem to care. I love that he and Michelle instill the value of service to others in their children.”

Many of my Facebook friends are people I grew up with in the southern part of the United States, so I knew they did not like President Obama.  I expected some of the initial responses I received, but they were okay as I knew the sources and one of them was even able to joke about our differences of opinion.  She’s one of my best friends from high school, so it was all in fun and she even made me laugh.  I also knew the second person to shout out about my post well enough not to take it personally.  The third however I don’t know although we do have mutual friends.

Therefore, I was a little surprised by the post.  I’m not angry with her, on the contrary, I am grateful to her.  She allowed me to open up a dialogue that has been brewing for some time.  I really have a problem with the seemingly lack of attention that the bullying issue is getting in our country by the average person on the street.  Members of my family who know how important this is to me still don’t know how severe the bullying in our schools is today.   So when a relative stranger commented on the post about President Obama, it seemed like the perfect time to try again to get through to people.

I would be willing to bet that many of my friends and family aren’t even aware that my child has Asperger’s even though it shouldn’t be hard to figure out from my posts.  I also have not tried to hide, from my friends and family, that I wrote a book to teach tolerance of differences to try to prevent bullying.  Yet, only a few of them have acknowledged my plea for their help in getting the word out.

They are not alone; however, posts about anger at President Obama get more time on the live feed at Facebook than a plea for understanding and support to stop the bullying.  I think we need to really take a hard look at our values as a society.  Let me know what you think?

The U. S. Department of Education Gets It.

There are several articles on bullying in the news today.  The one that really caught my eye and made me shout hooray is the one about the Department of Education .

They finally get what I’ve been saying all along.  We have laws already that if enforced would protect most of the people who are victims of bullying.  I sent an e-mail to Lee Hirsch last month after seeing ABC’s  “Bullied to Death,” asking him why there was no mention of prosecution in the case where the girl was assaulted in front of her home, or in the case of the You Tube video created by little girls telling ways to kill another little girl.  I also pointed out that the seventeen year old in Georgia who committed suicide after repeated bullying should have been protected under the ADA.

Finally, the U. S. Department of Education gets that at least some incidents of bullying should still fall under current laws, as according to the link below they are “reminding schools that some incidents could violate more than a local code of conduct.”  They are reported to have sent a letter from the Office of Civil Rights indicating specific cases would rise to the level of discriminatory harassment.  They noted protections against discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin, sex, age, disability in programs or activities that receive federal financial aid.

They also note that if a school limits its response to specific application of its anti-bullying disciplinary policy, the school may fail to properly address discriminatory harassment.  I say it is about time that someone realized this.  Now if we could just educate parents, maybe they’ll actually teach their children that their actions can have dire consequences.  Lets hope some of them actually are reading the latest news.

As I said before, involving the law would be my last resort if either of my children are ever bullied again.  I really want children to avoid prosecution, but until parents actually get back to teaching tolerance and kindness, I’m afraid it may be the only way to get through to some of our youth.  Parents please educate your children.  I don’t want a child to die or to go to jail.  Those of us trying to make changes just want you to get it, so we can all forgive and move on with our lives.

Unlike Life, Fiction Makes Forgiveness Look Easy 5

I love fiction because you can write things the way you wish they were.  You can create as much support as you wish were available for families struggling to understand a child’s differences.  Fiction also allows the child with autism spectrum to be presented in a positive light.  Too many times real life does not do this.  People judge harshly when they do not understand, and somethings cannot be taken back.  They can hopefully be forgiven, but forgiveness sometimes takes time.

Most people have trouble forgiving people who deeply wound them, but add the dimension of Asperger’s and multiply the time and effort it takes to forgive by ???  I really do not have an exact number, as like neurotypicals, every individual on the spectrum is unique.  The wounds are certainly deeper, but then I think bullying deeply wounds any child.  Yet, in my book, Delightfully Different, Mia forgives after a couple of years.  I want to be clear; I love fiction!!!

I put most of the responsibility for forgiveness on Mia in the book.  In reality, I know the child with Asperger’s has to see the parent forgive first.  This is not easy for the parent either.  When someone wounds your child how do you forgive?  It certainly is difficult!  That is why I really am grateful to Immaculee Ilibagiza for her example.

Time and infinite support help us to learn how to forgive.  It is not something that comes quickly.  It involves baby steps, three forward, five back, then three-step forward again for what seems like an impossible amount of time, if it happens at all.  It also involves love and patience and acceptance of why the process is so difficult.  Ideally, it involves the other person meeting them at least half way, if not three-quarters of the way repeatedly.  When this does not  happen the process can take longer.  There is still hope, but it does take time.

A friend once told me that it is too bad that we cannot have a do over with our first child, the way we can with a piece of pottery when it crashes.  I really do not want a do over, but I do wish I had done so many things differently.  I love my children the way they are, so I would not do either of them over even if I could, but I would do it differently with the knowledge I have now.

Delightfully Different is a work of fiction, so Mia’s mother did things differently than I did.  She also has two wonderful sisters, while I have none.  The point I am making is do not assume the book is about my family, it really is not.  There are similarities because I am the writer and we write what we know, but I can assure you none of the characters in my story exist in real life.

Therefore, this story is not like Look Me in the Eye or Running with Scissors.  It isn’t like The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night either.  Remember all three of these were about boys or men, not girls.  The only meanness is from the mean girls.  The only sadness is from “normal” life events and the frustration caused by misunderstandings.

The subtle traits Mia’s family and doctors miss are real traits of Asperger’s that are frequently missed especially in girls, the bullying Mia experiences really happens every day in our schools.  The rest is just a story that I totally enjoyed writing, and I hope you will enjoy reading.

I welcome your comments and after you have read the story, I welcome your reviews on the bookstore sites, as well as here.