Sunday, 24 August 2008

Paul - A Prime Example of Simplicity


My son’s 30 and has what’s termed as ‘profound learning difficulties’. When he was six months old I was told that he would be ‘a vegetable’ (the doctor’s actual term) and was advised to put him into care and forget him. Yes, that’s actually what I was told.

I didn’t. I was just 17 but I knew that with my mum's support, I could give him a life he deserved.

He was 3 ½ when he took his first step and nowadays we call him ‘the roadrunner’ because he dashes along, making it practically impossible for even fit people to keep up, let alone me with my dodgy legs or my mum on her aging pins. He can dress himself (although needs to be reminded put on clean clothes otherwise he’d wear the same things for a year!), he can bath himself if he’s supervised and reminded to rinse himself off properly and given help to wash his hair and get dry, and although he can’t prepare a meal, he can eat without help (although I have to admit that a good deal of it tends to land on his t-shirt or his lap) and he can perform simple household tasks like emptying the rubbish bin, feeding the pets, and vacuuming the floor (but not if it involves pulling the furniture out). In other words, he’s far from a vegetable.

He can’t speak but has an amazing ability to make himself understood through gestures and body language although you’d have to meet him to really understand the extent of his talent (and it IS a talent). He can’t count to more than 3 or write anything other than his name and some crosses (kisses) and he can’t manage complex computer games or even board games. He can sit for hours ‘counting’ pennies and stacking them up though, and even longer with his Magnetix and believe me, he loves nothing more than helping out.

Paul is kindness personified. As long as it’s within his capabilities, he’ll do anybody a favour, and most often he’ll give it a go even if he can’t do it. Unfortunately, the latter sometimes leads to problems because he‘ll have a go at something he hasn‘t been asked to do (like when he decided to change a plug or the time he drilled a hole in the wall). He’s only trying to be useful, though.

He loves animals, nature and sunshine but he doesn’t really complain if it’s raining and he gets wet. He hates it if he thinks people are being unfair to others and cries if a person or animal gets hurt. He’ll comfort you when you’re feeling down and he’s a master at making people laugh. In fact, it doesn’t take much to make him laugh - watching The Simpsons has him in fits!

Paul doesn’t demand much. He doesn’t ask for the latest Cds or DVDs but is happy when he gets one. He doesn’t demand the latest fashions but is happy when he wears something new (unless we’re talking trainers, in which case he’d rather wear the old ones until they fall off his feet). He’s perfectly happy with second-hand furniture in his room and at the moment he’s more than happy with a mattress on the floor in his nan’s room (there’s no room for a proper bed) just because he’s close to her and can be there for her should she need help in the night. He doesn’t want to dine out at fancy restaurants but thinks it’s fun to pop into the bakers for a cake and a cup of hot chocolate now and then, and he neither smokes nor drinks alcohol. He does drink too much milk for his own good, though.

What really upsets him is the way some people react. The stares, the comments made within earshot, and the sniggers from the ‘uneducated’. These things make him both sad and angry.

Recently I told him that I was planning to take him away on holiday. He hasn’t been anywhere for over 2 years - not even as much as a day trip - so I thought that being as he spends the majority of his time either helping Mum with the shopping, helping her with my very ill and dependant father, or just doing some bits and pieces to help Mum around the house, he’d appreciate a break. Alas, Paul didn’t want to go.

Sunshine, beaches, the warm sea, karaoke bars and hotel type join-in entertainment, all of which he usually loves, just weren’t enough to entice him away from his nan. His answer was that she needs him with her to help look after Grandad and to be able to carry the shopping home. That’s a kind and incredibly unselfish heart!

When I see ‘kids’ making demands on their parents for the latest computer game consoles, the latest designer gear, the best holidays and lord only knows what else, and still they’re sulky and miserable and complain that they’re hard done by, I can’t help but think how much better Paul’s life actually is. He’s happy in his simplicity.

Next time somebody says “he’s simple, isn’t he?”, I shall take it as a compliment. He is, he's happy that way and I love him for it.

Sharon J

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20 comments:

Jack said...

What a wonderful description of true simplicity. In the end, he may be the most content of anyone I know.

J

http://adventuresinvoluntarysimplicity.blogspot.com/

apieceofwood said...

Amazing post Sharon. You have a unique way of putting things that really does make me stop and think..

Chris said...

Hi Sharon ,

Thank you. Thank you for sharing your wonderful son with us all. My feelings about other people's comments are possibly best kept to myself but in the main it is their ignorance , fear ( fear of what though I ask?) and their own inabilities that make them respond as they do.

Would Paul like a day trip instead of some longer period of time away?

Hope he can have some time to really enjoy something soon. I know he enjoys caring but as you say a break would be good - it is for all of us. Sounds like a few trips for a hot choc and sticky bun might be needed!
Thanks for the comment on my blog. I have replied. Chris

Laura @ move to portugal said...

Hi Sharon, thank you for sharing, a lovely post that makes you stop and think
- A day trip sounds like a good idea.

Sharon J said...

@ Jack. He's certainly the most content of those I know. Nobody else comes even close.

@ apieceofwood. Thank you. If only more people would take the time to get to know Paul, I'm sure he'd make them stop and think too.

@ Chris. Fear of the unknown, no doubt. I'm sure he'd appreciate a day trip but being 200 miles away from him at the moment makes that quite difficult for me. I'm going down at the end of the week to spend some time with him and Mum but there won't be time for a day trip. Hopefully we can do something next Spring.

@ Laura. Once the caring has come to an end, both Mum and I plan to make sure he's 'repaid' for his kindness. There will be plenty of day trips and weekends away then :)

WebSmith said...

It's unfortunate that the Doctor wasn't enlightened enough to envision Paul's future and the contribution that he would be making. It's always the ones who are supposed to help who are part of the problem.

A man who gets his satisfaction and self worth from serving and making others happy is by no means simple.

He is filling a useful role in society and setting an example for others to follow. Very few could give everything they have to others and ask nothing in return.

Those who don't understand this are the ones who are simple.

Pink Bunny Ears said...

Sharon....Paul is amazing. and is a part of you, my dear. I wonder where he got his "amazing-ness" from? hmmmmm...

there are sooo many things that i feel and want to express right now...but the only word coming to me is wow!

wow.
wow again.
wow.

you blow me away!

Sharon J said...

@ Websmith. I didn't mean 'simple' in the way that blinkered people use it, but as in 'living simply'. He has a very simple life and knowing how happy and contented he is just makes me more determined to find more simplicity in my own.

@ Pink Bunny Ears. Please don't transfer his success to me. Paul's a person in his own right making his own choices and should have all honour for that :)

WebSmith said...

Having gone through it, I know that you understand Sharon.

My comment was only directed at those who don't appreciate what Paul has accomplished even though I know that they won't be taking the time to read about this.

Sharon J said...

I very much doubt they will either, Websmith.

notesfromthefrugaltrenches.com said...

Oh Sharon, this post has me in tears. What a wonderful wonderful post and an amazing mother & son you are!

Sharon J said...

I don't know about being an amazing mother because, believe me, I've made my share of mistakes with Paul but what I do agree with is that I have an amazing son :)

paradigmshifted said...

oh, how sweet. :) i think we all contribute in our own way, and just because it's not the "expected" way, it's no less important and valuable. he sounds truly amazing.

Jennifer said...

HI Sharon
I was also in tears with this one. I hope he knows what a special mom he has as it's clear you already know what a special son you have.

Thank you for sharing this about your son with all of us and please let him know that the Simpsons can have me in fits of laughter at times too!

jen
x

Sharon J said...

@ paradigmshifted. Very true words. The world would be a worse place without those like Paul.

@ Jennifer. Thanks for your kind words. I'll be seeing him tomorrow so I'll tell him then.

Anonymous said...

Your son sounds incredible. You have every reason to be proud of him.

Sharon J said...

Thank you :)

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