With two special needs kids, we have different expectations.
As parents, I think we often fall into the trap of providing things and experiences for our kids that really do little benefit other than to push us a little further up the ladder of social success.
I remember hanging out with the ballet moms – it was an excruciating experience. I realised very quickly I was not going to make it in this game. I didn’t have the right shoes to wait outside the ballet hall and my children were not the appropriate shade of pink, so we stuck out like a sore thumb.
Besides, we had not had the appropriate introduction to the fancy moms’ fellowship at the moms and tots group 4 years previously, and our attempt to infiltrate their ranks now was just too little, too late. The bus had left. And we were clearly not on it.
So we moved on to OT
. Very fashionable, it is, to talk about your child’s difficulty crossing the midline at dinner parties. I could never see how playing with shaving cream was going to help my child get to Grade 1. And if, by some magical effect, this was going to shift her brain, couldn’t I just buy my own tin of shaving cream and pull it out at bath time?
By this time, baby number 2 had arrived. Despite deep misgivings about its true efficacy in raising superior human beings, I was not going to miss my chance on the mommy bus.
I booked the little wriggler into baby swim. She showed a great facility for splashing and gurgling
, and I thought I might just raise a prodigy after all. But then a persistently wheezy chest put paid to that. So I joined the who’s-your-paed club and the oh-she’s-asthmatic club - scant consolation for falling of the babyswim train, but still better than being a nobody.
I don’t know what happened next, but I stopped trying. I didn’t stop trying to raise my kids to be the best they could be, but I stopped trying to do it like everyone else. I stopped trying to make them be like everyone else.
Maybe it was because, finally, they got through to me that they never would be like everyone else. I could accept that, love them for who they are, revel in their eccentricities and uniqueness. Or I could keep fighting this battle to climb up that murkily-defined ladder of social parenting success and find at the end I had miserable children who felt inadequate and isolated.
I have chosen to surround myself and my children with people who value their differences, who accept their limitations and who celebrate their achievements – no matter how insignificant these may seem to the ballet mom brigade.
My baby’s first sentence, at 5 years old, was far more precious than seeing her do backstroke at age 3 would have been, and right then, I didn’t wish for her to be anything other than who she is. Do we put too much pressure on kids to be good at everything?