“You’re so amazing.” “Special children are given to special parents.” “I don’t know how you do it.” “You cope so well I struggle with a ‘normal’ child.”
You know what? Shut up, please, it’s patronising at best and damn annoying at worst, and I’m being really really polite here. What else are we meant to do? Give them away? Walk away? Sell them on eBay? That last one isn’t possible, I have checked, eBay has rules about selling people annoyingly.
The big thing is I have to do it, this is my child, these are my kids, I made them and I have to care for them. Your child might be an annoying little shit, but you haven’t put them up for adoption, have you? You just learn to live with it or try to make the situation as palatable as possible.
Then there’s the truth behind it all. I’m not an amazing parent, I certainly don’t feel like one. I shout and scream, I want to hide away for the day and not have to deal with kids. I cry. I cry a lot. I don’t cope well, I don’t manage well. But somehow, amazingly, I get through the day.
Do I wish my child didn’t have special needs? Yea sometimes I do if I’m being honest. But the other side is I don’t know how to care for mainstream children. I certainly couldn’t be coping with tantrums because they can’t have a toy or some sweets in the supermarket. I’ve never had to deal with a tantrum, we have meltdowns, they are on another level and can’t be helped. Tantrums are available on demand.
I’m on a range of pills for my physical health (Fibromyalgia and restless leg syndrome) and mental health (severe anxiety and chronic depression) which all the doctors are pretty sure is all bought on because of my caring role. My kids have quite literally made me ill. I have days when I don’t know how I will survive to bedtime, I have days where I don’t want to get up in the morning.
Then I have days where I see mini miracles happen. My children developing in ways nobody expected. The laughs, the cuddles and affection, the silly humour we share, the fun little games we play as a family, this stuff makes up for it. My teenagers are not hanging around on street corners or trying the next illicit product, they are not falling in and out of love almost daily, they are not harassing me for more money for the next fashion thing. My kids don’t care what they look like or what they wear, and when it gets dark and I lock the front door I know my children are safely indoors playing with their toys, watching telly, enjoying our family home.
My life is full of mundane routine, more-so than for most families I’d guess, but mundane can be ok, at least I know what’s coming next. I can be hit with the biggest surprises too, and the endless appointments with professionals assessing this or that for one or the other is kind of relentless.
You know what? I wouldn’t change a thing. I adore my children – even if I have seriously checked to see if I can sell them on eBay – and I love that they are so happy and content with their lives. They don’t want anything, and when they rarely ask for something its a pleasure to buy it for them. They are home safe with us, they are kind, caring, full of love, beyond polite and have impeccable behaviour.
I’m not special, I don’t do anything amazing, I do just do what you would do, I just get on with it like millions of other parents around the world. What I’m amazed at is how you can cope with your mainstream neuro-typical child, how you can put up with the behaviours I see, the tantrums, the attitude, and how you cope with the stress and worry when they want to stay out with their friends way beyond nightfall. I wouldn’t be able to sleep until they came in, and then they will move on, they may well move away, they may emigrate, you will rarely see them. You joke how lovely that will be, but I bet deep down you wish they would stick around like mine all plan to.
I’m not amazing, I don’t really cope well, but I do adore my children and they are very content with the life I’m providing for them. I don’t know how you cope with your children. I believe I couldn’t do what you do, but then I guess if things were different I’d just have to cope like everyone else.