I spent last evening flipping between my regular Tuesday night television show (the only one I really watch) and the Independent Lens production of The Horse Boy as told by one courageous father from Texas. Did anyone watch it?
Never really sure how shows about alternative healing methods for disabiling conditions will turn out, I will admit I was a little jaded from the beginning about a story of a family who traveled from their home in Texas to the upper reaches of Mongolia to connect their autistic son to horses in a most intimate way. Oh, and to be healed by many a Shaman along the way. But, like most parents with kids suffering from this socially crippling disorder, I'd probably do what I thought needed to be done when a sliver of hope presents itself.
I enjoy Independent Lens as a general rule, and I was not disappointed by this father's filmmaking ability. It was wrenching to see their little boy, Rowan, engage in temper tantrums and non-verbal spars with his parents, flailing his body from top to bottom. Watching Rowan astride a horse, I could clearly see how his presence upon the animal immediately soothed and calmed his anxious heart, but I also felt for his mother whose initial reaction to trekking the family across the world to ride horses in Mongolia made her just a bit nervous. Yeah, the airplane ride alone would make me terrified.
The short of the story was that Rowan and his mom and dad stumbled, fell, then picked themselves up and did indeed ride across the beautiful starkness of the country for a month, during which time Rowan was prayed over, made to drink vodka and mare's milk, and other interesting rituals performed.
I came away with a few interesting thoughts, the most of which was a statement made by Rowan's dad, who said "Rowan's autism has made me a better dad. I don't think I'd be nearly as good if he didn't have this."
That alone was startling, and made me think. Am I a better mom because of Wolf's Asperger Syndrome?
Maybe. I'm a different person, that's for sure. I have to shelve my agendas sometimes, and remember for whose benefit I am working. It's not about me, anymore. It's about him. And that's a fine line to walk as a parent, isn't it?