When I was pregnant with Ben, in order to stay under my parents insurance plan, I had to remain a full-time student. That meant that I could start to take the blow-off classes I’d always wanted to take but been too busy with my Biochemistry Labs. I gleefully (read: hungrily) signed up to take a couple of lit classes and a child psych class. It was a refreshing change of pace for me.
I remember the day. There were 3 pictures of the 3 temperaments: a happy child smiling (easy child), a child who looks somewhat apprehensive about something (slow-to-warm-up), and a child who was pushing away a bowl of food and looks pissed off (the difficult child). I remember saying a prayer to whomever was listening that my unborn child be an easy one.
Well, whomever was doling out personalities had a good laugh at the child that was dispensed to me. As a baby he screamed ALL OF THE TIME, he wouldn’t eat, he was up ALL NIGHT LONG, never wanted to be held or snuggled, so much so that I found myself wondering if my child hated me. My Ben, he just seemed to hate me.
When he got older, he was diagnosed on the autistic spectrum and went through millions of hours of speech and occupational therapy sessions. It was surreal, raising him, and it still is.
I mean I made the kid eat a hot dog just so he’d try it. A HOT DOG! ALL kids love hot dogs! They’re full lips and butt holes, and salt and fat, and in kid-speak, that means extra-specially delicious. What kid DOESN’T love hot dogs?
Mine, and only mine.
(he loves them now, lest you think I’m beastly for it)
I’m constantly regaled with stories from friends, and friends of friends who tell me about their children sleeping through the night, trying different foods, LIKING HUGS and it always kinda chafes my ass. In all of those stories, I always can detect a certain smugness, a sense of superiority, intentional or not, it’s still there.
And it always seems to do the trick on me, I mean, at some point you begin to wonder if all of these people have normal kids, what in the hell am I doing wrong?
There’s a lot of therapy available for kids with special needs. They’ll teach the kids to try different foods and handle textures, noises, and sensations. If the kid is non-verbal like mine, the therapists work with the child to speak, first sounds, then more sounds, and eventually words, sentences and so on.
But what about us? The parents, I mean. Those of us who sit sobbing quietly in the bathroom, wishing for a hug or a simple dinner without a battle over food. Those of us who know how much it hurts to hear about how we’re fucking up our kids and how inferior our children are.
Where’s the therapy for that?