Before you read this post, go read this one by my new friend Jeannett. It’s about her daughter Jill, and it’s the inspiration for what I’m about to say.
Ok, are you back? Did you need to go get a tissue? (Or don’t you have a soul!?)
One thing that my whole experience with Sophie’s developmental delays has brought to my life is a sensitivity for people with disabilities, and their families. Especially their moms. Seeing your kid looked at as “different” is hard. Sophie only got weird looks because of sometimes-crazy behavior, as she is phyiscally “normal”. And that was bad enough. To watch the gawking or ignoring that kids and adults with obvious physical disabilities endure is very unsettling. To be a parent or loved one having to watch your kid get gawked at? I truly cannot imagine.
Because Sophie used to see kids with all kinds of disabilities at her therapy clinics or at her school, she treats a kid in a wheelchair or walker, or a child with Down Syndrome the same as all her other friends. It’s awesome to watch. There was a girl at school and a boy at OT that she especially like to keep tabs on. I can only hope she doesn’t lose that as she continues on to “regular” kindergarten. I know, as an adult, that I KNOW BETTER, and I know that I need to teach my children early to KNOW BETTER and to DO BETTER. Sophie’s got it, but I need to teach my boys. To be the one that treats everyone with kindness and respect. To look someone in the eye. To smile. To hold a door, or a conversation, whether that person is in a wheelchair, on a walker, has a mental disability, or whatever.
I love my kids. I love them just the way they are. They are mine. And you know what? If Sophie’s delays hadn’t been temporary, she would still be my amazing, wonderful, rock-star daughter. I never wanted her to be anything different than what God made her to be. And I wouldn’t want to be treated as if either a) she didn’t exist or b) she should be avoided like the plague or c) I should be pitied because of my poor, disabled child.
Would you ?
Tell me, if you have a disability, or your child or loved one does, or you’ve worked with people with disabilities, what do you want us “typicals” out there to know and do? Help us get it right. Let’s learn together how to love one another better.