Monday, August 18, 2008

A good life

I just got finished watching Apocalypto (ugh!) and I need to write about something else to try to erase it from my brain. So hey! A blog post for the first time in two and a half months.

Henry will start the Pingree School on September 2, and his classroom open house is this Thursday. We're really excited, even though we know the initial transition is going to be tough on Henry. He'll be in a classroom for a much longer time than he's been used to. But he'll also have a much better opportunity to learn.

The title of this post was suggested by a conversation I had with my sister-in-law's ex-husband yesterday at a send-off party for my niece. He said, with very positive intention, that with the services available, he believed that Henry would have a good life. Most days, I think I would have agreed with him, if not because I believed it then because it's the polite thing to do. But yesterday I was really down, so I agreed that he'd probably have a reasonably healthy, safe, and comfortable life, but I also said, "That really begs the question, 'What is a good life?'"

I don't have the answer to that question. What makes a life a good life? Is a pleasant life a good life? Is a life rich in experience a good life? What about friends, relationships, and traveling? Will those experiences be possible for my son? If so, to what degree?

By a scheduling fluke, I ended up having an hour-long therapy session with a counselor at the Neurobehavioral Autism HOME clinic last week. We talked about a lot of things (well, she let me talk about them), including my feelings about Henry's future. As I told her, most parents, at some point in their lives, have to accept that their wishes for their children's marriages, educations, and careers won't be fulfilled in the way they might have hoped. Parents of children with disabilities often have to accept that a lot earlier in their children's lives.

I don't mean that I don't have faith in Henry and his possibilities. I don't assume that his life path will follow the least optimistic road. He may go to college, he may have good friends, he may have meaningful romantic relationships, he may have children, and he may have a rewarding, interesting career. But I don't assume that any of those things will happen without a lot of hard work and good luck. I think most parents have the luxury of waiting until their children are in their teens to start doubting the rosy futures they have imagined for their kids.

Hmm. Upon review, I realize this post is rather depressing (and I can't blame that entirely on Apocalypto). I'm going to post it anyway, because it is true, but I promise to make my next post more upbeat (and I won't wait two and a half months to post it).