Friday, August 19, 2016

A NORML Mom Goes to the Mall

My kids like plushies & princess dresses. How normal is that?
After leaving the hospital with my son in April, I've become more reclusive. Meanwhile, fall is approaching, and a new school year has begun. This means I will begin commuting about 60 miles daily to and from Kennesaw, Georgia.

See. My children think differently.

My son is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and my daughter functions from a similar space, somewhere sort of to the side of the spectrum, in the land of sensory processing and integration differences leading to learning delays. In layman's terms, she's brilliant but can't read, and a traditional classroom's sights, sounds, smells and energy also set off a series of alarms further getting in her way.

I have instead enrolled each of them in Appleseeds Learning Center, an awesome environment where children like mine (but very unique in their own ways) can interact with therapists, teachers and friends who meet them where they are (so to speak) and help them reach and exceed their learning and behavior goals.

Thus far, it's been working out well, and being self-employed myself pretty much means I can work anywhere my laptop can go. Recently, that place was Town Center Mall.

Personally, I'm not much for malls, but my children love Town Center, and sometimes it's the perfect way to decompress after school. We walk in, ride the escalators, head over to the soft play area and, usually, hit the Disney Store. If I'm lucky, my kids will let me work some more while they play, and that's exactly what I was doing the other day when I got re-introduced to my activism.

It happened casually and ,just a touch, awkwardly, enough to be endearing. A nice-seeming dad from across the soft play area approached me and commented on the NORML Women's Alliance sticker he and his wife had spotted on my laptop. It turns out his name is Marshall, and along with his wife and their friend Connie, he was on the verge on beginning a new chapter of Peachtree NORML, meeting in Woodstock to better serve the Northwest Georgia area. Thanks to his invite, this Tuesday, I re-entered the fray. I will be writing more about the new chapter (and the fantastic leaders and members I encountered there) in Peachtree NORML's upcoming newsletter, but I do want to go ahead and encourage anyone interested to connect with Northwest Georgia NORML via this link to their new Facebook page.

For the sake of my NORML Mom column, I want to share my personal take-away from meeting Marshall at the mall: 

Wearing the NORML gear out publicly isn't just an opportunity to educate. It's also an opportunity to connect with each other, to signal each other that we're here, ready and willing to work together.

I went back to Town Center Mall yesterday in a NORML shirt for this post's photo opp. No one blinked an eye really, but as I snapped the shot outside the Disney Store, I got to thinking: What does Disney (bastion of family-centered creative American culture that it is) think of pot?

Not much, one way or the other, it seems.

After some Googling, I found only musings on pot-smoking princesses, an interesting Leafly review of the strain Disney Blue and this article about how Osceola County, Florida (one of the places Disney World is located) has recently passed measures for decriminalization. As a result, Disney visitors caught with less than 20 grams of marijuana on the Osceola side of the property could walk away with no criminal record and a $100 USD fine. At least my search tuned up a little good news. It also pointed my mind back to Georgia.

Since I've been off-line, the town of Clarkston, Georgia, passed municipal laws which allow law enforcement to choose between issuing the standard state penalties or allowing people who possess less than one ounce of marijuana to pay a $75 fine and forego jail time. It's a small but important step, which you can read about here.

If you're feeling the movement, as always, please let this post be a seed. Comment, share & watch it grow!


  1. This is awesome, I almost went to a Peachtree NORML meeting about 6 months ago but the meeting I found was being held in Athens Georgia.
    Having a chapter in Woodstock is a great thing. Funny, I was telling my business partner about NORML today, strange coincidence.

    1. Hi Max! Thanks so much for following the link on my card & commenting, no less! It sounds like a happy coincidence indeed. The main Peachtree NORML meeting this month will be Tuesday, Nov. 1 at Manuel's Tavern in Atlanta @ 7 pm & the Cherokee County chapter will meet on Nov. 15 @ 6:30 pm at Las Palmas, 2210 Holly Springs Pkwy, Holly Springs, GA 30115. You are invited!