She’s just a girl. Not special. Not any different than any other toddler. She’s infatuated with Princess Sofia and Doc McStuffins. She has a stuffed lamb, Mi Mi, who she can’t be without. She adores her daddy and loves playing school because her mommy is a teacher. She’s a pint size philosopher who packs a punch with wise words that are seemingly beyond MY years. But she isn’t special. She’s just another child in a world of children.
But to us, her father and me, she is everything. She is quite extraordinary and yes…she is special; special in ways that are too numerous to ever recount in a single post let alone a single novel.
But she also has special needs. She needs help making her muscles strong; to get her core to fire, her left thigh to not fail her, her ankles to hold her steady. She needs help getting her fingers to work in a coordinated way so that pulling a sticker off a paper isn’t a monumental marathon-like task. She needs wait time so that her mind can map out a succession of movements. She has needs…special needs.
Over these last few years, I have been awestruck with the humans that we have encountered; professionals whose sole desire is to get her to develop to be her best self. On the way to stronger muscles and more coordinated fingers, they have taught her the satisfaction of persistence, the wonderful feeling of meeting goals, the necessity to pay attention and follow directions and the invaluable knowledge that a desire to work hard even if it is inconvenient or difficult is one of the most important characteristic one could possess. For these humans who have a constant presence in my daughter Ila’s life, I am more grateful than I could ever pen. Our daughter is special, as special to these helping humans as she is to us.
As with most toddlers, she belongs to many different types of groups. Each “group” has a leader. And while many are willing and able participants in our quest provide every opportunity for Ila’s brain to develop new pathways for movement and the processing of that movement, unfortunately, we have also come across humans, adults, who see our daughter’s special needs as a burden; “an extra thing to do.” They seem overwhelmed or put out that perhaps they may have to do something different than they typically do as their role as leader to help her to be successful.
If our requests were all encompassing or would take away from the group in any way shape or form, then I would totally understand their reluctance. But Hindsight reminds me that there are regrettably people out there that feel threatened or aggravated when an expectation comes across their desk that might be out of their job description so to speak, and it makes them hostile.
We were often in this situation with our oldest son. A neurologist identified him as a genius at the young age of two. From that moment on I made it my mission to get him “special” treatment. Some of the requests were necessary. However, some I made weren’t reasonable in any realm and made with the brain of a twenty-something. But not realizing it at the time, I would do anything to bend the situation so that it went my way. That kind of thinking backfired in various ways, especially the feeling that it was us against them. So Hindsight taught me to choose those battles that are imperative and fought for the good of my daughter. But it also has taught me that the harder the battle is to fight, perhaps that is a sign that winning it isn’t as important as realizing that this isn’t the kind of human being I want having in my child’s life. So this time around, when I meet up with those who are disinclined to do what is best for my child, it is probably time to find someone else to do that particular job, or time to find another group in which she can take part because there are many special people out there who are willing to do what right no matter what. And our special daughter deserves those special people in her special life because, after all, she’s so special …to us.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s Motherhood, Eye on Education, Faces, and Appleseed. Logan’s previous column for Hilltown Families, Snakes and Snails: Teenage Boys Tales ran bi-monthly from June 2010-Feb. 2011, sharing stories of her first time around as a parent of two teenage boys. — Check out Hindsight Parenting: Raising Kids the Second Time Around every first and third Tuesday of the month.
[Photo credit: (ccl) Chris Keating]