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Things That Aren’t Funny

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Today, against my better judgment, I had a debate with a friend about the homeless population.

That’s usually not a good idea if you want to keep your friends, but sometimes I’m impulsive.  Go figure.

Her opinions were not unusual, and are probably shared by the majority of Americans. 

“I work two jobs, why should I give my money to someone that is capable of getting a job of their own?”

“If I give them money, how do I know they won’t use it for drugs or alcohol?”

“Giving them money will only encourage them to not get a job, and live off of handouts.”

I guess I can’t imagine a person choosing to live on the street, and stand out in the cold and heat begging strangers for money, day after day.  It seems like that would be much harder than working at the Home Depot.

And people with addictions…I suppose I subscribe to the disease model of addiction.  At some point, it stops being a choice.  And I have to wonder, what kind of abuse, neglect, or damaging life history does someone have to drive them to addiction that leaves them homeless?

Mostly I think, who am I to judge others?

Everyone who meets my son assumes he is a neurotypical child.  He doesn’t look like he has a disability.  There’s no wheelchair, vacant stare, or obvious stimming behavior.  But it’s there.

It’s there when he screams because the sound of the hairdryer is overwhelming.

It’s there when he becomes agitated that we have used an alternate name for something, like calling a motorcycle a “chopper.”  He becomes more and more agitated as he demands that we “call it a motorcycle, don’t call it a chopper.  It’s not a chopper, it’s a motorcycle.”

Someday my husband and I will be gone.  We don’t have much family, and Connor will need to make his own way in life.  What if his disability keeps him from being a functional adult?  What if he can’t hold down a job, and meet life’s responsibilities?

What if his stubbornness, independence and refusal to follow rules prevents him from being able to accept help, by living in a group home, or receiving assisted living?

What if he ends up on the street?

I didn’t tell my friend this, but these are my worst fears, the thoughts that keep me up at night.  

He could be the one that causes someone to say, “he’s healthy, there’s no reason he can’t get a job.”

I don’t know what other parents do with this fear.  Do they push it out of their minds, in the interest of moving forward?  Do they have enough family that they don’t worry about the worst case scenario?

But the bigger question, larger than my fear for my child, is what has happened to human compassion? 
What has happened to love and kindness for our fellow man?

And what will I tell my son when he asks me about homeless people?


About Flannery

Kid, husband, dogs, my mother, full-time job, maximum stress, minimal relaxation...sooner or later I had to vent. AND we moved from California to Texas. I could start a whole other blog about that.

12 responses »

  1. As Dani G so famously commented to me when I blogged about our kids procreating, “Fuck you for making me think about this.” Actually I think about it every day. Audrey is the only child of an old lady mother who gets years taken off her life every day from the stress of raising her. We don’t have tons of family. I guess I push it out of my mind, but I also try to be extra nice to the young cousins and therapists who I think might be around to look out for her. I think compassion has been dying a slow death in our society for a while now.

  2. This piece gave me chills. I feel the same way. Especially when you said, “Mostly I think, who am I to judge others?” and then later said this, “what has happened to human compassion? ”

    I do worry about some of the same things for my son. Right now teachers are saying that he should be caught up by kindergarten but in the same breath they talk about the assistance he’ll need when he enters kindergarten (not next school year but the one after that). If he’s developmentally delayed throughout adulthood………..I really hope his sister takes care of him after we pass……he also has 2 cousins who are younger who I hope would step up to the plate if his sister doesn’t

  3. This thought horrifies me. What happens to him? Will his sisters help out, help him navigate?? What really scares me is what happens if we both die??? My inlaws think all his “stuff” is made up by me and they honestly think I’m nuts. Thank God they live out of state. I actually have in my will (and around my house) the kids are NOT to go to them! My sister will take them but even then she has no kids and see’s only a fraction of what he’s really like. I can only hope I can outlast but even then what happens next?? I don’t know….

  4. I worry about this constantly and sometimes in the middle of the night. I am an old lady mom and my son has no sibling close in age (he has two half-sibs – his dad’s kids -one who is 32 and one who is 27 with whom he has never shared a household). Our family is very small as well. These are very scary thoughts. I think we parents are busy trying to avoid this situation by giving our children the best of educational and therapeutic mechanisms to help them succeed. You are a brave mom to bring it up. As parents, we can only teach, help, support, prepare and fight for our kids’ future. And we’re doing that every day.

  5. Do you think that compassion comes more easily to/from mothers of children with issues, be it autism spectrum disorders or what have you, because we do indeed now understand the beauty and importance of accepting people for who they are, and appreciating their foibles and short-comings??? I can really relate to what you say about your son. Jack freaks if we even mention that violin movie he likes.

    • Yes, partly. It certainly makes us more aware of differences and challenges. But hubby and I were already California bleeding heart liberals to begin with, so that hasn’t changed!

  6. I don’t like to think about this stuff because, you never know. And thinking about it makes my brain hurt. I try to live in the now as much as possible. When thoughts of the future creep in, I eat some pizza. So, instead of worrying about the future, I’m pretty freakin fat.

  7. So tough to live in the now with all the daily challenges and still try to plan for the future. My son is 13 and will be an adult in the blink of an eye. Fear wins easily, which is why I eat and blog!

  8. Yeah…. I agree with what’s said above… I don’t have much family (they’re all pretty distant) and neither does my husband. I really worry about that. I think about it a lot and have a really morbid last resort plan if it comes to that, but it’s not something I like thinking about. It really sucks. (The situation, the worry),

  9. While my opinions on homelessness don’t assume someone is a drug addict or lazy, I also simply cannot afford to give everyone I see, money from my pocket. Especially when I struggle to keep food in my own house, for my children. That isn’t to say I haven’t or that I don’t care, not by any means. I do also agree with the lack of compassion in society, and towards our fellow man in general. Whether it’s the homeless guy on the street begging for money, the jerk that cuts in front of you because his time is “more valubale” than yours, the disabled person we don’t “understand”, or the person who doesn’t even say thank you when you hold the door for them. Lack of compassion, sympathy, and common fucking courtesy is one of the many failures in our society today. How do we fix it? I’m ready!

    As for the rest, this is a scary thought for any parent. The thought of leaving young children parentless, with little family. I know it is for me, even without “disabilities” to factor in. I can only imagine how much bigger that fear is for you guys.

    Despite how far away our families are from eachother, I hope you know that I would be there for him in a heartbeat, if something were to happen to the two of you. If we aren’t what you would want for him, then I would support and respect any decision you made for his care (for after you’re gone). Hurry and win the ginormous lottery so we can move onto a big-ass compound together somewhere and live happily ever after. 🙂


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