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In the Thick of It

Whenever I talk to people whose child has just been diagnosed, or has just entered elementary school, or just transitioned into public school, I am reminded of how it felt to be in that place. The place where self doubt is surrounding you. Your own thoughts and questions a cacophony of uncertainty enveloping your every waking moment. What more can you do? What other therapy or treatment can you try? When will you see improvement? How long until the next hurdle? When’s the next milestone? When will this get any easier???
When our kids were babies, we went through these same phases. We thought these same thoughts until, one day, you realized you now had DIFFERENT questions. We all go through these cycles…not just with our children. We go through them in our marriages; in our relationships with our families and our friends. Sometimes the cycles with those we love correspond with the more difficult times with our kids because, after all, what is going on with our kids is not so easily compartmentalized. You can’t just put the fact that your three year old can’t say a full sentence, or feed himself without being covered in his lunch, or that you can’t take him to a store to pick up eggs without him running away from you with not so much as a second thought into a box of its own worry!!! No, that stays with you through your day, your week, your month, your year, affecting every decision you make, until that behavior stops. And then another takes its place.
Once things get better day to day–like, he can go to the bathroom by himself and KNOWS that privacy is a necessity, and can keep himself occupied without breaking anything (or anyone, for that matter), he goes to school with just a whimper, and not a tantrum–there are still MOMENTS that bury you in their weight.
Take, for example, a visit last week to the pediatric dentist. Now, the dentist used to be a very traumatic experience for J and myself. You see, from when he began going to the dentist, about age three (right?) I would have to physically restrain J. I would first lie on the chair. He would lay on me, and I would restrain his legs by wrapping my legs around his, and the same with my arms around his arms. It was as if I was having a physical fight with my son. The amount of force it took to keep him in that chair just for a simple cleaning, it exhausted the both of us. Now, at almost nine, he goes willingly into the chair and, with very little protest, lets the dentist do what he has to do.
But, on this visit, I was slapped with a wallop of memory. Not MY memory though. As J went to take his place in one of the two chairs, I mentioned to the dentist that maybe J and his sister should switch hygienists. See, the lady who was to help J really can’t handle him. Partly because she is very hard of hearing and cannot understand what he is saying, but fakes along, obliviously, all the while J is getting frustrated not understanding what the hell is going on because she can’t understand what he’s asking!!! And, because this woman is way too timid for the likes of J. So, as I ask the dentist if the kids should switch, this lady, the hygienist, says, “Yeah, ’cause he’s got A LOT of issues.” What the F#*K??? Listen, we love our dentist. He is a great guy and when I walked up to him immediately after this happened and I said, very calmly, “Listen, you GOTTA tell her she can’t say that in front of the parents”, he apologized profusely and admitted how embarrassed he was for her behavior.
And while that is very much appreciated, it doesn’t quite wipe away the pain, the reminder that your kid is different. That you are, in that moment, still very much in the thick of it.
Although the days, the occurrences, may become less and less, when they hit, they still sting. They still smart, and leave a mark. Those are our battle scars to bear, my friends, as the warriors we are for our children. We should not be embarrassed by these wounds, but trace our fingers over each one to remind us of how far our children have come, and how proud we are to be their protectors, teachers, providers, nurturers, friends, companions–their moms and their dads.
Soldier on.

Categories: Uncategorized


One Response to “In the Thick of It”

  • Natasha says:

    This helped me a lot. We go to a special needs dentist who is so wonderful. Now I just want to go punch that dental hygienist in the face. Thanks for this.

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