I have a friend, who, when her son with Down syndrome was young, would create all kinds of learning experiences for him.
Like filling a tub with jello, letting it set up, and then sticking her son in it.
She figured that her son may have Down syndrome, but he would be the smartest kid with Down syndrome there ever was.Â Everything she did with her son was focused on some sort of therapy or another.
One day her husband came home and pointed out that this little boy was their son, not a science experiment and maybe she should focus a bit more on typical little boy stuff with him.
At that moment my friend experienced quite an epiphany.Â She gained a bit of insight into a new faucet of what it means to be a special needs parent.
Being the parent of a child with special needs not is an automatic entry into a contest to see who’s kid is smarter, quicker to walk, faster to run,Â the superior potty trainee, owner of the biggest vocabulary,Â or the first to figure out how to escape that supposed triple secure lock you just installed.
In between the therapies, lessons and doctor’s appointments, there is a not just a kid with special needs, but a kid with lots of typical needs mixed in as well.
I know I’ve been guilty of forgetting this at times.Â An extra five minutes?Â Let’s flip through those animal flash cards again.Â Therapist didn’t make it?Â Well, not only do we need to make that time up. we need to add more to it just for good measure….or to stomp down some sort ofÂ weird Special Needs Mommy guilt I’ve been known to lug around.
(There’s no type of guilt that even begins to compare to Special Needs Mommy Guilt, lemme tell ya.)
Last nightÂ I was feeling exceptionally frustrated with a masterpieceÂ that Parker had created for me using the result of his latest bowel movement.
For a moment all I saw was the extra chromosome. THAT was the reason this happened. The extra chromosome blocked Parker’s ability to understand that what he was painting with was gross.
Then I remembered a few others in my crewÂ doing the exact same thing when they were little.
I remembered having to turn their jammies around so that they zipped in the back making certain the would be artists could no longer reach for their medium of choice.
(Instead of stressing, maybe I should have celebrated the fact that not too long ago Parker would have never had enough control over his sensory issues to put his hand intoÂ the texture of material hiding out in the back of his diaper.)
It’s times like this I need to remember that my son is also a kid.Â It’s not all about the extra chromosome.
What about you?Â What have been some of your moments where epiphany has struck?