Sunday, April 11, 2010

Being Friendly

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Chris and I took Noah out for some afternoon shopping together. I put him in a different stroller and he seemed to enjoy it must better than our last difficult trip to the grocery store together. It's all about finding a comfort level for Noah. I have no doubts that he still battles sensory issues - I even suspect that clothing can often be difficult for him. He much prefers no socks on his feet, and silky types of materials to sleep in. But I hear of lots of children that have sensory issues - many that had normal births and are considered "normal developing children."
When we were out shopping I seen another mother with a child in a walker, I casually mentioned to her that he looked like he was doing great, and that my son was special needs too and that I hoped he'd be able to walk with help someday too. She wasn't at all friendly. One would think that if you had something this difficult in common that somehow you'd have this automatic bond. But that isn't the case. Some moms I run across have become so opinionated about treatments, doctors and therapies that they try to push all of their views constantly upon you and they leave little room for your ideas. Some parents I see not being able to recover from the traumatic event that caused their child to have special needs and they fall into this constant state of permanent depression. Granted I'm the first in line to say I have my bad and good days, but I'm always able to pull myself out of the bad days - I don't permanently stay there. Then you have the parents and families that follow your journals and blogs, not because they really care if your child is doing well or are rooting for them - or even genuinely care about your family, but because they need ideas to either take for their own blogs, or need to find a way to pick you apart in unsolicited email comments or are only reading about you so that they can compare children.

Saying that there is an automatic bond with special needs parents is like saying that families that have blond headed children will always gravitate towards each other and they'll be best friends for life. People are fickle regardless of what they may have in common. A lot of people have the "what's in it for me" attitude. Sure there is a level of understanding of what it takes to care for a special needs child, you know how it feels, the ups and the downs, the pain and the joy. But I think the bond stops there. It's certainly not a club, sisterhood, or special union.

Granted that's not to say that I haven't met and become friends with some very incredible families, but even if we didn't have special needs children they are the type of people I would have wanted in our life regardless. Having a special needs child doesn't make you an automatic "good apple." Nor does it give you an excuse to be a "bad" one either.

I want Noah's journey and the experiences that come along with being his parents to be a positive one. We have no sparkling glitter to make our family look "cool", we are simple parents trying to raise a sweet precious little boy that has a lot of physical challenges. I will always try to demonstrate love, compassion and hope for Noah, even if I find those along my way that refuse to be "friendly." I say give them a smile and a hello anyways, even if you know they will reject your kind ways. Don't become cold and hard because the rest of the world can be. Show them the warmth and the difference a smile can make. Even if the only thing you may ever have in common is a special child.

Here is a beautiful quote from my favorite childhood book:

"You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what's a life, anyway? We're born, we live a little while, we die. A spider's life can't help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone's life can stand a little of that."

E.B. White - Charlotte, "Charlotte's Web

Stacy, Chris & Noah