Wasn’t it the great Albert Einstein who said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?”
Well Al, call me insane.
And while you’re at it, call my imperfect parental brethren insane, too. After all, so many of us seem to make the same mistake over and over again – despite the fact that we get the same result.
That mistake? Continually doubting our kids. Even when they continue to prove us wrong by succeeding. Over and over again.
Maybe the imperfect system is just set up that way. It seems that from the moment our kids with differences are born, many of the books we read tell us what kids like ours won’t be able to do. And the hired guns or experts we bring in “to help” our kids only hurt them more by presenting them to us as numbers on an intelligence test. Or flat positions on a bell curve.
Before we know it, we start sipping the doubting Kool Aid… lowering our expectations…preparing for and expecting the worst.
I am no exception. There have been so many times throughout my two daughters’ lives when I just assumed they would fail. Come up short. Fall apart.
I felt that way when one was about to be screened for kindergarten.
“Oh well, I’ll just keep her back. She’ll just be the oldest kid in her class.”
I thought that when another was about to make her First Communion.
“Father forgive me because my daughter is about to sin and spit out the Communion wafer. She has sensory issues.”
And despite my erroneous predictions at these and so many other small and large milestones, I continued to doubt my kids at every turn.
“With her anxiety and math disability, she’ll never pass the state test required to get her diploma.”
“She’ll never be able to interview for a job on her own. She has poor eye contact.”
"She’ll never be able to drive a car with those visual spatial issues.”
“She could never live away at college. She’s never been away from home.”
“She might never find someone to love her with her quirks.”
Here’s the insane part, despite ALL these successes, I still doubt them. Just last week, I brought my 17-year-old daughter with sensory issues and anxiety disorder to the oral surgeon’s office to have her wisdom teeth removed. Days before the surgery, she was in full blown panic mode. Going to the dentist was always difficult for her, but the thought of receiving a shot and having her teeth pulled was unbearable.
When I brought her in, I was prepared for a full breakdown, but when the hygienist called her name, she quietly followed her inside. No tears, no protests, not even the usual desperate pleas for me to go with her.
She handled it like a champ.
There in that quiet dental office waiting room (a luxury that has alluded me in my parental dental career), while my daughter’s wisdom teeth were being extracted, I actually gained some wisdom: Maybe after 21 years of being a parent of a child with special needs, I should finally stop believing what I read in books or on test results, and start seeing what my children’s experiences have repeatedly shown me.
After all, wasn’t it the great Albert Einstein who also said, “The only source of knowledge is experience?”
You got that right Al.