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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Coping with Surrender

I've been thinking about a scene from the TV show Parenthood. It's from the episode, "Hey, If You're Not Using that Baby" that aired this past week. Kristina, the mother of a child named Max who has Asperger's syndrome, is meeting with his teacher after she and her husband have decided to "mainstream" him by putting him in a regular school.

Kristina is concerned that Max isn't going to fit it. Her fears are confirmed the first time she sees Max sitting by himself on the playground, so she begins emailing Max's teacher about her concerns. When the teacher doesn't respond quickly, Kristina decides to visit the school. That's the scene you will see below.

"You're just going to have to get a little more comfortable with having less control," Max's teacher says. That's the line that sticks in my head. It seems to be an "aha" moment for Kristina who has understandably spent most of Max's life trying to control his environment. But the truth is, she's not always going to be there for Max. He's eventually going to finish his education, get a job, maybe get married and have kids of his own.

Along that journey, he's going to be ostracized sometimes. He's not always going to fit in. But in reality, how many of us fit in in all social settings? Certainly Max is going to face bigger social challenges than many of us, but he's going to be better prepared for them if Kristina can get a little more comfortable with having less control now.

Max's teacher wasn't advocating being at ease with having no control. Instead, she spoke about increments -- about getting "a little more comfortable" with having "less control."

Life is about adjusting in increments. I think that's what Kristina heard from Max's teacher. She doesn't have to stop trying to protect her son. She just needs to loosen the reigns a little to see what happens next.


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