A couple weeks ago during a few minutes of peace and relative quiet on the Bionicle battlefield (also known as my family room), I did a quick Facebook scan…one of my guilty pleasures. A particular entry caught my eye. Someone expressed displeasure at parents who “allow” their child to cry and misbehave in public. I clicked to read the 20 plus comments on this entry. I anticipated a backlash to the status.
Hearing voices getting louder and noting ever-growing invasions of personal space, I knew the Bionicles’ peace treaty was crumbing so I read faster.
I grew flush. My pulse raced as the solution to my children’s misbehaviors was spelled out for me in black and white on the screen of my iPad. 1) My husband and I needed to be more diligent and committed to the discipline of our children, 2) spanking at home and in public must begin, 3) regular attendance at particular church was required and 4) if 1-3 failed we would be obligated to keep our children away from all public venues. (This paragraph should be read with a sarcastic tone because how could I possibly get to this specific church if I even can’t take them out in public?)
The imminent demise of the Bionicle peace accord necessitated I put down my iPad to mediate. In retrospect I am so grateful for literal crumbling of the Bionicle world requiring me to step away and to reflect on the emotions evoked by those statements.
I realized the following:
1. If you are a parent, you understand the unrealistic nature of those statements. (Unless of course, you are at a midnight showing of Nightmare on Elm Street with your sugar-ingesting, caffeine-drinking 3 year old then May the Force Be with You because you are on your own!)
2. And if you are the parent of a child (or children) with any special needs or challenges, you live the opposite of those statements each and every day.
3. My outraged reaction to statements unrelated to me, my kids or my family was driven by my personal insecurities and fears. I have filled my brain with voluminous information about SPD. I am always well armed when taking my offspring out in public. I wear a brave face and put on a good show, but there are days when my heart aches for my boys and my mind ponders how others perceive (aka judge) our family.
Several days after the Facebook parental advice, a college friend posted the following quote by Wayne Dyer: “How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.”
I have read many heart-breaking stories of hurtful, stinging, and ignorant words uttered by friends, strangers, educators, healthcare professionals and family members. I can count on one hand… really just on one finger (use your imagination to figure out which finger I use)… the incidents of uneducated and poorly chosen words spoken to my son after a sensory induced tantrum. So I strive daily to remember Mr. Dyer’s karmic wisdom.
My family’s journey down the SPD highway has only just began. The traffic has at times been heavy, the road unpaved and the signs in a foreign language but our friends and our families have risen to the occasion around every turn. I try to take every opportunity I can to thank and celebrate them personally. And today I get to do it publicly!
So raise your glass and help me celebrate the people in my life…
I CELEBRATE the never-ending supply of coffee, margaritas, Zumba, queso & chips and Glee.
I CELEBRATE the unconditional love, support and acceptance you have given us.
I CELEBRATE our pediatrician whose son has SPD.
I CELEBRATE your willingness to allow me to pass out lollipops at any given time regardless of meals potentially ruined.
I CELEBRATE our amazing OT who cares for me as well as my boys.
I CELEBRATE your emails, your phone calls, and your interest in arming yourself with knowledge about SPD.
I CELEBRATE my son’s first grade teacher who educates in every student, every day in a sensory friendly way.
I CELEBRATE your smiles as my boys hug your children. (My boys have been known to hug like anacondas squeezing their prey.)
I CELEBRATE your three-hour drive to help me with the laundry.
I CELEBRATE your willingness to care for my children and to brush them.
I CELEBRATE the mother of an SPD Aspie I met this week at the gym who offered books, OT supplies, ideas and hugs to a very sweaty stranger.
I CELEBRATE the childcare provider we discovered who is applying to OT school and who is fascinated (and not intimidated) by the behavior of my “seeker.”
I CELEBRATE your casual nature as I depart your house with a kicking, hitting, and screaming child under my arm.
I CELEBRATE the way you say “See you tomorrow” and MEAN IT as I leave with the previously mentioned hysterical (and physically aggressive) kiddo.
I CELEBRATE your sharing with me the names, phone numbers and email addresses of your friends with kids with SPD as support.
I CELEBRATE your lack of concern that you might be hit or pinched by my son as we attempt to remove him out from your vehicle because he is not ready to get out and is holding down the lock from inside.
I CELEBRATE my best friend, my husband of 17 years. I love you. Thank you for always pushing me to be Superwoman.
I CELEBRATE my boys who are forcing me to know myself better and who are teaching me to reexamine the world and how we experience it. (I carry you in my heart.)
And I CELEBRATE each and everyday whatever fate, karma, destiny or divine being brought me to this place and to these people.