Monday, November 12, 2007

One in every family

There seems to be at least one person in every family who is either unable, or unwilling, to comprehend the nature of a special needs child. This person usually speaks without thinking, often causing us parents to cringe, or worse, to cry. We are used to strangers coming up and saying things that astound us by their complete ignorance. These people don't know us or our children, and often don't realize their comments hurt. However, when it is a family member who says, or does, something completely ignorant, it is hard to let it go.

In my family I have one major offender of the above crime. This person is constantly saying things that make me slap my own forehead, when really I want to slap hers. The last time we were at a family gathering she introduced Thomas as her "special grandson." UGH! The time before that she asked me "do you think Thomas can understand what we are saying?" To which I replied, "Yes, of course he can." Her next question, "Do you think he wonders why he is different than everybody else?" Oh my God woman! Did you not hear my previous answer that he DOES indeed understand what you are saying? Then why on Earth would you ask such an asinine question as a follow up? The last time I saw her was at a smaller gathering which included a friend of my uncle. This friend, who I did not know, asked my cousin if Thomas was the "special one" she had heard about. UGH UGH UGH!

What in the world are we supposed to do with family like this? Strangers are easy, we don't have to like them, we don't have to explain anything to them, and we likely will never see them again. But with family we do have to see them again, we do have to like them, and we do have to explain. Or do we? It has become my new policy that I will only surround Thomas with those who are supportive and who lift him up instead of those who seem to thrill when he falls. I have received a lot of flak for this policy. Other family members think that because She is my family I should forgive and forget. They don't understand what it's like to fight tooth and nail for every small achievement in a special needs child's life. To fight the insurance company, the schools, the doctors, and whoever else out there wants to stand in the way of our child and what we believe is best for them. It is my opinion that family should be the one group I shouldn't have to fight. They should be supportive and helpful. They should be next to me, cheering Thomas on to his next goal, that next great achievement. By allowing those who do not do those things to be in his life I am doing a disservice to him. Thomas has enough hurdles to face in this world, I won't knowingly give him another by allowing anyone, family or not, to stand in his way.


~Sarah said...

Hi. I know you don't know me, but I was browsing through the interests and found your journal. I am 24 years old, and I have CP. I'd just like to encourage you on some things. Growing up, I had family members like that too. We all you said. My parents did their best to provide a normal life for me. Still, some days, I even had family members make fun of me.

That being said, you're the mother. You're doing what you think is best for your son. Keep doing that.

I'm very blessed that I have great parents. I grew up, got married, and now my husband and I live in Alabama.

People are always going to say things and be rude. It's really because they don't know any better. I always tell them that while CP is a part of my life, it doesn't define who I am.

Good luck :)

abecker07 said...

Oh family! So many idiotic comments over the years. "What's wrong with you" I hate. Absolutely nothing! what's wrong with you? is what I'd like to say, but we smile politely and give the canned answer over and over again. I know they mean well, but OMG.

To their credit, they don't mean to be so rude (at least that's what I tell myself) and I think of us as teachers and they are our students.

Our children can do anything, just modified! As the years go on, some actually learn from the teacher and realize it as well. Nothing makes me more proud to show up at a family gathering where someone put a little thought into it and made or thought of a slight modification so my child could participate (not that it would stop us, just slow us down til we did it).

You are a great educator!