It's award season, Oscar, Emmy, Tony, Grammy – you know, the time of year when all the celebrities get together, wear expensive clothes, and gush over each other. Watching the Oscars the other night I was amazed by the sheer number and variety of awards. There is not only the top film and top actor awards, but Best Original and Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing, Best Song, Best Documentary Short Subject, Best Live-Action Short Film, and the list goes on and on. So, I started daydreaming – what if there were an awards show for parenting a child with disabilities. I know, I know, weird, huh. But just go there with me. What would we call it? Well the Oscar is named after an Academy employee’s Uncle Oscar who purportedly looked like the statuette. The Emmy is named after a camera, believe it or not. The Tony is named after a famous Broadway actress, and the Grammy is a diminutive form of gramophone. Ok, let’s see – how about the Maddy (mom and dad), nah, or maybe the Tressy (a diminutive form of stress)? Or, better yet how about a lovely statue of a gilded hand – the Handy – since we never seem to have enough hands (especially while trying to push a wheelchair through any door).
What would the categories be? Well, of course, the top categories- Best Mom, Best Dad - would be so crowded with nominees that a winner could never be picked. But what about Best Adapted Environment (recognizing the ingenuity of parents with inaccessible homes who can’t afford to move), Best Interpretation of Non-traditional Communication (when only the parents can tell what their child is trying to communicate), Best Live-Action Short Car Trip (traveling anywhere with your autistic child who can work a seat belt buckle), Best Documenting of Medical Conditions (for the parent that has had to update a new doctor now that the pediatrician will no longer treat her 21 year old.), Best Song Memorization (for the parent who is still singing The Wheels on the Bus as requested by his adult child), There could be a Humanitarian Award for the parents who have gone the longest without a child-free vacation. Then, of course, there’s the Lifetime Achievement Awards. There would have to be a waiting list for that one. But, that would be OK. Parents of kids with developmental disabilities know all about waiting lists.
I wonder where we could hold the ceremony. Of course, it would have to be accessible. And, they’d have to bring the awards to the recipient’s seats since it would be a logistical nightmare otherwise. Plus, those seat fillers (the people they stick in the empty seats so the camera only shows a full house) would freak a lot of kids out. The best part would be the acceptance speeches. Can you imagine what parents would say? “I’d like to thank my husband. I wouldn’t be here it he hadn’t pulled me off the ledge last year after I found out my son was number 4,369 on the residential placement list.” Or maybe, “I owe my performance all to my doctor who is always there to renew my Xanax prescription.” Or, more likely, “I’d like to thank my daughter who has made me a better person than I ever knew I could be, who has shown me what is truly important in life, and who has so much to share with the world, if the world would only acknowledge that God doesn’t make mistakes."
It could be a grand night. We’d love to wear pretty clothes and eat wonderful food (Do you think Wolfgang would be available...or maybe we could ask Emeril!). Would it be in California? – I bet it’s warm there this time of year. But, of course, few would be able to get there. And, who could afford it?? Who would organize it (don’t look at me)? Wow, how different two worlds can be! But it's fun to fantasize isn’t it? So indulge me for one more minute as I accept my award for Best Attempt to Escape Reality – “I owe it all to my family – my daughter who grounds me and my husband who indulges my flights of fancy, between the two, my sanity remains as golden as this Handy.”