Last week I attended a presentation on bullying and special needs children. I learned that not all special needs kids get bullied. The ones that are really different — seriously impaired, for example — don’t get bullied much. It’s the ones who fit in, but don’t fit in, that can get the royal treatment.

That would, of course, be kids like Joseph.

Bullied children fall into two categories: the submissive or passive victims, and the provocative ones. Special needs kids are likely to fall into either of these categories.

Lately I’ve seen Joseph go from the passive type to what could be seen as provocative. Up until recently (like last week), he’d look at someone and say loudly, “That’s a fat girl.” I think I’ve finally drilled into his head that we don’t comment on people’s body size in public, but it’s just a matter of time before the next inappropriate thing comes up. Autistic kids don’t have the social barometer that comes so naturally to the rest of us. Joseph could easily, and innocently, piss off a kid on the playground — the number one place for bullying.

But you know what? I’m not worrying about it. I went to the presentation to get the facts and to learn what Joseph and I can do about bullying, but I am seriously and intentionally not worrying about it.

Here’s what I am doing:

I am focusing on being present and developing what I need now in order to deal with whatever comes later. The thing about the present, to quote C.S. Lewis, is that “there, and there alone, all duty, all grace, all knowledge, and all pleasure dwell.” It’s only by being present, which to me means aware, open and connected, that I can be prepared for that future stuff. This goes for bullying, financial crashes, and happy Christmas days.

I learn to listen now, when it’s easier, so that I may still be guided and connected later when, perhaps, it’s more difficult.

Fear lives, not in the past and very rarely in the present, but, by and large, in the future. In our fantasies about what could happen. In our “mind stuff,” as the yogis put it. We weren’t given the ability to peek around the corner at our future. We weren’t meant to, I figure! Yet these fears we have, which we project into the future and which seem so very real, have got to be one of the best tools that the Dark Side has.

In a rapid switch from the Dark Side to the Light, I will bring in Yogananda, who said we should have our feet on the ground and our head in the clouds. I love this analogy. With my feet on the ground I learn about bullying, and with my head in the clouds I trust that, wherever Joseph goes, God is.

It seems to me that this is truly a place of peace. Finally letting go of the need, or the imagined ability, to take care of it all myself, but nonetheless doing my part. Finally trusting that God’s love is a real thing — something constant, steady, and deep that will hold Joseph and me tenderly through the rest.

Is it just me, or does everything end up back at God? 🙂