Sunday, December 21, 2008

Insensitive Jackass

Originally posted on the family blog:

How many of you have met an insensitive jackass, or worse, been one? It's no secret that our family has challenges and issues. Our oldest, Hyrum, has been diagnosed as being on the Autism spectrum. To an outsider, he would appear to be a super-active, uncontrollable teenage brat. However, those who know him know that he is not physically able to sit still. He gets his enormous growth pattern from me, his father. He is just the size of a teenager, but just turned 9 on 20 December, which was yesterday as of this writing. Most people who get to know him, love him in spite of his difficulties.

As you can imagine, this leads to occasions where his inability for silence and stillness are a determent to him and his family. Mainly, Church, but especially sacrament meeting. Today was the easiest to have to sit through. The annual Christmas program. No High Councilor talks to put you to sleep. No open-mic travelogues or thankamonies to cringe through. Just Christmas music.

It's a small miracle that we come to church every Sunday. With Hyrum just turning nine and his 4 younger brothers in tow, Sacrament meetings turn into 3-ring circus events, with us as the clowns, or the idiots for even attempting it in the first place. Church is the place where you are supposed to feel the Spirit; to renew and invigorate for the week to come; to be among friends.

Given the emotional week that we had, with the miscarriage, the D&C, me coming home so late on Friday and just this morning, sick kids, Sara stayed home with the three youngest boys. So all I had were the oldest two. The two that most people would think should be able to sit still through the easiest Sacrament meeting of the year. But one of the children was my sweet Hyrum. And as you can imagine, he couldn't just sit still and listen to the off-key singing of songs celebrating the birth of our Savior. He fought with Noah, fidgeted like he was "feeling the spirit" at a southern revival, and got up and left a number of times. I sent him home at one point, only to have him come back in after apparently playing in the snow. He decided to kick the snow off of his shoes at the chair set up right by the doors so the teacher or extra deacon can close them during the sacrament and hand out programs. So in other words, it was a usual Sunday.

Despite all of this, I was really enjoying the meeting, and honestly feeling the Spirit. It was almost over, during the first verse of the closing song, when this old man comes up and tells Hyrum that "[he] disrupted the whole meeting." Hyrum replies, "What's the problem, I'm just a kid?" The old man barks in response, "You're the problem!!" and goes back to his seat.

I couldn't finish the song. It totally punctured a hole in my happy balloon. I looked at Hyrum, and he looked back at me and asked "what?". I couldn't speak or say anything. I was floored. The meeting ended and we came home.

Of course I told Sara about the event, and she made a few calls, and left a message on his machine. He called back, but not to apologize, but to further humiliate us. "I'm not attacking the child, I'm talking about his parents. Your husband was sitting there like a zombie while he disrupted the meeting. After I told him to stop, several people came up to me and said 'I'm so glad you did that. We should have done that sooner.' "

To further stoke the fire: this idiotic cold-hearted jackass used to be the Bishop of our ward. We're glad that he wasn't in charge when we got here. Our current bishop talked to Sara on the phone and was so apologetic and wanted to know if he could do anything to help. We have to wonder how much damage control our bishop has to do from the old man's current remarks or past actions as bishop.

People don't realize the production that goes into a church event for us. They don't realize what has to be done to get five boys nine and under to church every Sunday, or even what it takes to get two boys off to school 5 days a week. Hyrum fights going to Church every Sunday. Every Sunday we have to tell him that no, it's not Conference and yes, he has to go to Church. Once, two years ago, a girl at school told Hyrum that the coat he was wearing made him look fat. He never wore that coat again. This old man doesn't realize that him trying to do my job or "offer constructive criticism" will probably be remembered by don't-forget-anything-Hyrum for years to come, or maybe for the rest of his life.

Don't get me wrong. I want Hyrum to sit still. I did my best to encourage him to do so. It's just not that easy with him.

We're going to keep going to Church here. No words or actions of stupid people are going to affect the salvation of me and my family. One day, all this crap will be worth it. Then we'll look at the young couples struggling and smile. One thing about having these kinds of difficulties is that makes us so much more tolerant to disruptions and for people with disabilities and challenges.

I'm sure in a past fit of rage, I've cursed Hyrum to have 5 just like him. I really don't wish that on him. I would love to have 5 little angels sitting on the row, but that isn't our fate in life.