I love music. My wife and dearest friends know how deeply this passion of mine runs. So, about 6 years ago, I started collecting vinyl records. If I’m going to be a music snob, might as well go all the way with it.
Last week I received my first monthly shipment from Vinyl Me, Please, a record subscription service. The first album I received was Weezer’s cult classic Pinkerton. Released in 1996, the album was darker than their first record and, at the time, was not considered a success. If you believe the internet legends, it almost destroyed the band, and may have caused Rivers Cuomo to have a break down. Now, years later, it’s considered by many to be one of the best rock records of all time.
Have I mentioned that I love music. And that I love collecting records.
And have a I mentioned that collecting records is a stupid hobby.
I mean, let’s be honest about this. First of all, records are expensive. I once paid almost 100 bucks for a Wilco box set. It was before I had kids, but still, that’s kind of ridiculous.
Records aren’t portable. Have you ever tried to move a record collection? Even just moving a couple of hundred albums from upstairs to my office downstairs was a tiring task.
There will never be a record player in my car; it’d skip too much. I can only listen to them in one room of my house, unless I get multiple record players. Which, come to think of it, isn’t a bad idea.
Collecting vinyl is a very, very impractical hobby.
But would you tell me not to collect them? If you saw how much joy they bring me, how much delight I get from opening a limited pressing of one of my favorite rock records of all time, would you tell me it’s a stupid hobby and that I shouldn’t collect records?
Probably not. Probably, you’d nod your head, say something polite, and never think about it again.
So then, why do we expect different of the individuals that we love, who happen to have disabilities?
Years ago, when I worked in a different state, I had a client who was a high functioning aspergers dude. He was funny, nervous, and in love with trains. He was in his teens, doing well in school, didn’t really have any friends, and loved Thomas the Tank Engine. And his parents had real problems with this. They felt it was holding their son back. They wanted him to stop collecting trains and to stop watching train videos non-stop. They thought it made him look like a baby, and they were worried that their only son would be continuously mocked the older he got. They were worried he’d be hurt, emotionally.
Now, for the record (no pun intended), I get this family’s point of view. These parents LOVED their boy, just like I love my boys. They wanted nothing but the best for their boy, and they wanted this in absence of Thomas the Tank.
This devastated the son. He was visibly shaking after we did the intake for the evaluation. It was rough. Everyone in the room was upset.
Now, I agree that this kid needed to be taught that not every conversation can be about trains. He needs to understand that these conversations have appropriate times and places. If I started every discussion with the history of the Weezer’s cult hit album, it would not be appropriate. However, teaching restraint is different than forbidding all outlets to explore his interests.
Sadly, when I expressed this to the family, they decided not to choose me as their therapist. And maybe that was for the best.
I hope that this kid is in college and has joined a model train club, or that maybe he started one. He would be a great club president.
Or maybe he’s went to school to be an engineer, and has gotten a job designing trains.
Or maybe he owns a model train kiosk at the mall.
Or maybe he will have a family one day, and will have a son who he gets to share his love of trains with.
Maybe, sometimes, we should show these kids how to enjoy what they want to enjoy. Let’s teach them how to live their lives, not how to live ours.