Sometimes I have no clue how to do this parenting thing. I was just putting T down for his nap which is quite a production. He tries to draw it out for as long as possible, Z and I have come up with an order of events and we work hard not to deviate from them no matter how much he whines/sobs/pleads. We got to the second drink of water portion of naptime prep (no, I’m not kidding) and he said, “I’m being Molly!” and he went limp in my arms, head back, mouth open, tongue out. My breath caught in my throat and I started to cry.
“Molly” is the not-real-name of one of the little girls in T’s preschool. Her developmental issues are so severe that she is unable to sit up unassisted, she is blind, she does not speak, and from what I understand it is unclear if she will ever be able to do those things. She is the youngest of 3 or 4 kids and I think she is the only member of the family with developmental issues. Every time I see her my emotions cycle so quickly I have whiplash. I hurt for her and her family, I rail at god for being so unfair, even though I know it isn’t useful and her family probably would resent me for it I pity her, and the small, selfish, shitty part of myself feels fear. I want another baby. I’m 35 now, we have two healthy boys. Would I be temping fate if we have another? But ultimately I’m happy she is there. I’m happy she has qualified professionals with her at school helping her to participate and enriching her life. I’m happy she has a caring family.
T’s school partners with an awesome preschool in Syracuse that has been educating “typical children” and “special needs children” in the same classrooms since 1975. There are trained special needs teachers in each class. I love it. Kids who need something extra are quickly identified by the wonderful teachers and the school facilitates getting those kids help. I also love the idea of T growing up with special needs children as a way of de-stigmatizing them. It is so easy for kids to fear or reject “different”. I want my son to be the kind of kid who accepts all kinds of people and who will help others who need it. Pretty lofty goals, I know. But exposing him to all kinds of kids and making them part of his normal seems like a great start.
So when he started mimicking Molly I didn’t know how to explain to him why he shouldn’t do it. I like to think he’s a pretty smart kid, but he isn’t quite two and a half. I understand he is just “trying on” what he is seeing and that it is normal. There certainly wasn’t anything malicious behind it. And I asked him to stop. I told him that Molly isn’t playing, she actually can’t sit up and needs to be held. So it isn’t nice to pretend to be like her because she would love to be able to talk, and sit up, and play with the other kids. I don’t know. Was that the right thing to say? Am I expecting him to understand too much? What is the correct way to handle that situation?
I handed him the cup of water and held him tight and said a prayer to the god I’m not sure I believe it, thanking him for my two perfect boys, begging him to forgive my selfishness and send me one more, and asking him, “How could you? How could you do this to Molly and her family?”