Sometimes (when I feel like it), I stop and try to patiently answer their questions. “Yes, he’s blind, he rides by listening to what’s around him and I give him cues, he doesn’t need to ‘see’ with his eyes to know where he’s going, Yes, it’s safe.” Sometimes though (more often than not), I don’t say a word – but just keep running alongside my munchkin as he slowly and steadily pedals his bike. The grins on both of our faces silence the critics and gawkers and, in my opinion, is THE answer to any more of their lingering questions.
This physical and non-verbal response of mine is a relatively new one. Previously, when others doubted Alejandro’s abilities, I hate to admit it but I did too. Does this ring true for you too?
I didn’t doubt things all of the time nor did I do it immediately, but rather often later on, when I would find myself lying wide awake in bed mulling over a comment, observation or prognosis that someone had said. ‘There must be some validity to it or they wouldn’t have mentioned it, right?’ I thought. This would go on for days despite me witnessing Alejandro constantly defying what had been said about him. Thankfully a ton of bricks hit me and knocked some sense into my head and made me realize what I was doing: underestimating my son and his abilities based off of someone else’s overestimation of their own opinions about him. Crazy!
And besides, to estimate is simply to guess, based off of incomplete information. For eg.: It’s extremely difficult to accurately guess how many pieces of candy would be inside of a full candy jar because much of the candy can’t be seen from the outside of the jar. Likewise, much of what others think about our children (and us as parents) is often based on what they ‘think’ they are seeing from the outside coupled with their own assumptions. In other words, an incomplete picture.
‘Why do we automatically assume less of (i.e. underestimate) others who are different or differently-abled?’ and ‘ Why do we look at them from a deficit point of view focusing on what (we think) they don’t have, can’t do, instead of a surplus one – what they DO have and CAN do!?’ My answer: because it’s easy. It’s takes far more work, time and energy to think about and get to know someone who is different/differently abled than it does to make an instant judgement/assessment/estimation about them.
Don’t take the easy route. Believe in & celebrate your child’s strengths and capabilities, no matter how small they may seem to others (& dare I say you as their parent).
Many children like Alejandro, who are former micro-preemies and/or who have special needs, are quite capable of achieving greatness in a myriad of ways. Their way of doing things might not be your way….but it is still a way and this should never be minimized or ignored.
So as another school year gets under way for many of our kids this year – and even those of you whose kids aren’t in school, I encourage you to never underestimate your child and his/her abilities, regardless of what others may say. Also, never underestimate yourself and your own unique ability as a parent to look at, listen to and really know your child…..as well as yourself.
I would love to know your thoughts regarding this newsletter or just about anything else that’s on your heart. Feel free to share them by dropping me a line in the ‘Comments’ section below or by emailing me @: firstname.lastname@example.org.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS:
1) (Only 3 weeks away)! Annual Preemie Parent Summit; Building Relationships, Creating A Strong Community; September 20-21, 2012; Pricewaterhouse Coopers, One North Wacker, Chicago, IL
Sponsored by Preemie Parent Alliance (PPA): http://preemieparentalliance.wildapricot.org/, this event aims to bring preemie parent leaders together to support and network with one another and to actively engage in a spirit of openness so that effective joint-partnerships are created.
I am super excited to be co-facilitating the summit with PPA! It promises to be a great time, so if you or someone you know is part of a preemie parent organization/group (in person or virtual), please join us!
2) 5th Annual Rainbow of Roses Rememberance (Georgia)
A special event in recognition of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness. To find out more out more, click on the link below:
3) Neonatal Nurses Day (sponsored by NANN, the National Association of Neonatal Nurses: NANN) on September 15th!
A day to recognize all of the amazing NICU nurses out there. If you’ve had a nurse who made your journey in the NICU a little bit better, smoother – let her know on this special day. Click on the link below to find out more about it and ways in which you can acknowledge your child’s special nurse:
You can also like the NICU Nurses Day on Facebook and send them a BIG thank you: bit.ly/NICUNursesDay
4) A Petition about Preemies and RSV (Urgent Action Requested!) . Please sign and pass it on!If your preemie had RSV and received Synagis, then you might want to consider taking part in this petition. For more information, click on the link: ow.ly/dfJL5
Until Next Time, Wishing You Hope and Clarity,