Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cute Kid, For Now

Since he was a toddler, my son has frequently been described as cute or adorable. And, though I am biased, from the pictures below, I’m sure most of you will agree that he is, as are all young kids, pretty darn cute.

His cuteness has been a shield of sorts, as much for my wife and me as for him. He could have all sorts of bad or odd behaviors, and, to some extent, people would overlook them because his appearance projected his innocence.

At age six, most kids are probably near the tail end of their cute period. Kai’s already may have lasted a little longer because he is small for his age and he still has such a guileless quality about him.

At age three, he was adorable:

At age four, he was very cute:

Age five, still cute:

Now, at age six, not so much:

Okay, okay, he is still pretty darn cute.

But, for how much longer?

The recent story in The Atlantic talks about how adults with autism are denied the empathy and support we give kids. But, I think it goes further than that. I think that adorable little children are more likely to get support than older, bigger kids.

When a cute little boy asks someone for a hug, their heart melts and they gladly give him a hug. But, what happens when a not-as-cute, medium-to-large-size boy asks for a hug? Or, wears his clothes backward? Or, says something strange? Or, has a meltdown? Instead of being endearing, it might be perceived more awkwardly at best, and perhaps even frightening in some cases.

Many of the things that are excused or even welcomed with small children will be frowned upon as inappropriate. That is among the many reasons why I feel a sense of urgency to try to correct all of my son’s poor behaviors. I know that is not going to be completely possible, and one day we will have to deal with the extra scrutiny we will get. Our shield will be gone.

But, I also know that our son will always be adorable in our own eyes. And, I will learn to deal with whatever reactions we get from others.

In the meantime, I won’t mind hearing about what a cute kid he is.

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