Friday, August 20, 2010

We Ask Different Questions

It's exciting to watch children grow up.  Not only do parents get the privilege of seeing their children learn and grow right before their very eyes, they also get to engage in speculation as they wonder what their children will do when they grow up. Will they get married and have their own children? Will they go to college or trade school? If your son loves Legos, will he be a civil engineer or a carpenter?  If your daughter loves to draw, will she be an architect or an interior designer? 

I enjoy listening to other parents brag about their children. When you add a special needs child or a child with a chronic illness into the mix, however, the speculation is a little fuzzy and there are different questions to be asked such as:
  • I wonder if he'll be able to live independently?
  • Will she learn how to use public transit?
  • Will he be able to have some sort of a job?
  • Will she ever learn to read?
  • Who should act as a guardian and make the hard decisions after I'm gone?
Aside from not wanting to be labelled "Captain Bringdown" or "Major Killjoy", I try to avoid discussing these things with parents of typical kids and instead discuss them with parents of special needs kids.  I do this because (1) I don't want to appear to be fishing for sympathy; and (2) I don't want other parents to feel uncomfortable or guilty.  It's one thing to talk about how your 12 year old son is excelling at baseball and might make the All Stars team; it's quite another to talk about how severe your 12 year old son's seizures are that he has to wear a helmet in order to protect his head should he fall and hit a coffee table. Not to mention all of the medications he might be taking.

On the other hand, I don't want to give the impression that I'm embarrassed by my youngest son.  I'm very proud of his accomplishments; his accomplishments are just a little different from those of most 8 year olds.  His future will look a little different, too.

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