It happened again. We were in the waiting room of our doctor’s office waiting for Abigail’s eyes to dilate so we could go back to see the doctor. Abigail was in my lap eating goldfish and watching all the other children running around. Me and her are good people watchers. One particular father was having issues keeping track of his son. The little boy kept wanting to run away and run straight out the door, so the dad kept running around after him only for the son to escape again. At one point the dad sat down across from us and tried to offer his son his own goldfish, to try to entice him to be still for a minute I am sure. The dad made a passing comment that made me cringe inside. He turned to his son and said, “Why can’t you be calm like that little girl?”
It is not the first time that comment has been made about Abigail. Obviously, she is calmer than a typical two-year-old. I mean she can’t move for goodness sake. And this was not our first rodeo in a crowded doctor’s office full of typical kids. So you can imagine when parents are chasing after running toddlers, and trying to keep their young children occupied in a boring office that seeing my child just sitting in my lap calmly chowing down on her snacks could easily make you jealous. I mean selfishly does not every parent want an Abigail who does not move and get into things and all the normal toddler things that toddlers do? A selfish parent wants an Abigail, but a parent with any bit of love for their child would never wish this on their child.
I wish I could tell that father that he really does not want his son to be calm like Abigail. I wish I had the time to explain our story, but a crowded doctor’s office is not the place. That dad wouldn’t care. If anything we would just get all the pity stares from everyone when I explained why Abigail was sitting in my lap and not running around. We receive enough pity stares already, so we do not need those either. My favorite response from strangers are the ones when they comment on how cute Abigail is, or how her pink glasses are adorable, or how blonde her hair is. I just want to stop and thank those lovely strangers for taking time to talk to us and to see my girl for who she is and not what she can’t do. I know these comments will decrease and the pity stares will increase as Abigail gets bigger and we actually have to use her new adaptive stroller or wheelchair more. Kids in wheelchairs are different and our society does not like different. Right now that only thing that sets Abigail apart from a typical toddler (at least from what a stranger can see) are her glasses and we get so many comments about those!
“Why can’t you be calm like her.” I won’t ever forget that small comment. I would not wish any parent to have a child with special needs. It is a whole different world (that I am only beginning to learn about) that comes with struggles, heartaches, and a dash of hope. While I am thankful for our journey and I could not be more blessed to be a mom of a special needs child, I want more than anything for Abigail to be normal. I want her to be able to be the independent child that she thinks she is. I want her to be able to walk and run and just be a kid. I want her to play pretend with her baby dolls and help my bake a cake. I want her to talk my ear off in the backseat and tell me what a cat says. I want her to learn her ABCs and sing made up songs to me before nap time. Oh these are just some smalls dreams I want. I know she is progressing daily, and for every baby step we just cannot believe it. As long as she is moving forward we know there is hope that one day she could do all these things.
What I would say for any parent of young children out there is that I know the days are long. I know you are tired and maybe even burnt out. I know toddlers are crazy! I know you have amazing days and then you have some horrible days. But please don’t take these days for granted. Be thankful for them being toddlers. Be thankful they are learning how to be little people and how this big world works. Protect them, love them and be patient with them. Soak in every silly song, every kiss for a boo-boo, and the sound of those little feet running towards you. They grow so fast and they need you more than ever right now. And if you happen to know a parent of a special needs child, or just see one out and about please do not offer the pity stare. Just say hey like you would any other mom. Tell them their child is beautiful and get your child to wave at them. You will make that parent’s day I assure you. All a special needs parent wants is the same thing you want – someone to stop and give us a smile and say hey I notice all you’re doing and you’re rocking it!
And to all mom’s that is what I leave you with – you are rocking it! Keep going moms! Drink your coffee, take a shower, do whatever you need to do for you and then love those babies with all your heart. We are in this together, and together we can do this thing called life. So find some mom friends and encourage some mom friends and love some mom friends this week. We need each other!