Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Filed Under (Inspiration, Poetry) by Estee on 22-09-2010

I’ve been told that Adam adapts well — it’s not something we hear when it comes to autistic kids.  It’s only been a couple of weeks now and he seems happier and settled in his school. As for myself as Adam’s mother, it settles me. For the first time ever, Adam has a desk that flips open, and I’ve already had a chance to see the stacks of binders in his desk. I can’t imagine his little body, for he is the smallest kid in his class, carrying those big things. He has a cumbersome communication device (Vanguard), because he cannot talk fluently. There are always many things for him to take wherever he goes now. It is not a light load.

As Adam becomes more independent, my views of him, of our lives and parenthood are shifting. This is not a journey I will ever attempt to predict. So much has changed in our lives, and now that Adam has switched schools, these feelings are  punctuated. I feel that we have reached the second phase or our autism journey, if we can parse life into phases.

These past couple of weeks we have been reading an array of Dr. Seuss’ stories. Every night, I ask Adam to choose which one he wants me to read to him. This evening, he chose Oh, The Places You’ll Go! It is the wisest poem I’ve read in a long time. I thought I’d copy some of the lines because I became rather pensive with all of these changes going on — with Adam’s growth,  maturity and the road ahead. While I was reading this story, the lines of the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button also popped into my head.

What an important a lesson it is for Adam, as it is for us as parents who sometimes get caught up in the idea that our children won’t end up doing or being anything, to think again; how critical it is to see all the autistic adults contributing to society in their own unique way, while also re-evaluating what “success” really means to us. It reminds me, also, of how important it is to have mountains to climb.

 Enjoy this abridged version as food for thought:

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go…

…You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in the Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare stay out? Do you dare go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

…Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t.
Because, sometimes, they won’t

I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.

And then when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on…

…On and on you will hike.
And I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are…

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed.
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed)…

be your name Buxbaum, or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea
You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!


This is the video clip where Benjamin’s daughter is reading a letter written to her, from him. You can choose to make the best or worst [of what is handed to you in life]. “I hope you make the best of it.”


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About Me


I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (www.taaproject.com), and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.