It was just too much to keep up with. I experimented with creating yet another blog, one solely dedicated to my thoughts on recent episodes of Parenthood. But it was just too much, so I figured I would go ahead and migrate my thoughts back here and keep them focused on relating what happens with Max to our experiences with Kaitlyn.
Last night’s episode was really gripping. The Kristina storyline is very intriguing, as are Sarah’s and Amber’s. Once again, however, I was waiting for the next scenes with Max. Last night, the storyline of Max running for Student Council president reached its peak with the election. To wrap up the campaign, Max had to give a speech. In front of the whole school. And to top it off, he chose not to write anything down (interesting, a from the heart speech with nothing canned).
As Max approached the podium, I was worried about what would happen next. I was convinced that he would get up there and the other kids would laugh at him and embarrass him. People in general, and kids in particular, can be mean and hurtful when they do not understand someone who is “a little different” than they are. Instead of trying to become educated, there is a general acceptance that it is ok to just make fun of people (I’m looking at you, Ann Coulter).
Max began his speech by introducing himself and then said why he was running, which was to bring back the vending machines. He was pretty much done, and an awkward silence filled the auditorium. Then, he began to explain to the students why he is how he is, because he has Asperger’s. His Asperger’s makes him “tenacious,” and also makes it difficult for him to look people in the eye and introduce himself. He said that most people think that having Asperger’s is detrimental to him, but that he was happy he has Asperger’s, because it makes him who he is. And it makes him tenacious. That tenacity, he said, would lead him to pursue his objective until a favorable resolution is reached. The writers did a good job in displaying some of the very positive aspects of Asperger’s. At the end of his speech, Max got a rousing standing ovation.
If you watched the show, you were probably a lot like me when they revealed that Max won the election. Maybe I am looking too deeply into a TV show, but I think writing into the show that Max won the election shows that understanding and education can lead to positive results.
I always try to look for ways Max’s character relates to something that is currently going on or that we have experienced with Kaitlyn, or something that has a strong chance of happening. I guess what I most connected with last night was that there is good out there, and that all it takes is a little effort to understand people who are not “normal.” I know that Kaitlyn gets picked on and made fun of in school, and I struggle to contain my emotions and reactions (so does Amber). There are times I want to tell her to respond with a snarky comment about the kid who is picking on her being jealous of her because Kaitlyn is smarter than them and will be more successful, but I know deep down that it is wrong to encourage that response, so I hold back. I know that, should she be transitioned into gifted sometime soon, other kids will target her and pick on her more. Amber and I want to protect her from that, but we know that there is only so much we can do.
What I want most is for people to learn from watching shows like Parenthood that people who are different should be embraced. People like Max, and like Kaitlyn, who have Asperger’s, and can use the strengths of Asperger’s to change the world (or the school). I want people to denounce people like Ann Coulter who spew hate in our society and who help to spread ignorant views of people.
A little understanding can go a long way.