Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Why does this bother me?

A colleague at work has 2 daughters that are adopted from China. He knows that Callum has Down syndrome because I talk about it and I have a big poster on my office door advertising the Buddy Walk. Recently he asked my advice because his youngest daughter isn't speaking (she's around 2 I think) and his wife had contacted the local early intervention program. So I told him a little about Callum's speech therapy, gave him the contact details of the person who did Callum's speech evaluation and also reassured him that lots of kids are late talkers. I gave an example of my brother who didn't talk until he was 3 and is now doing great, he was reassured and said that he betted my brother was now an engineer or something - I let it slide because I didn't want to get into the fact that he's actually an artist, poet, musician, wood carver, highly intelligent hippie because it really wasn't what he wanted to hear. Why is worth dependant on being an engineer/doctor/lawyer??

I saw the same colleague today and he told me with great glee that the evaluation went fine and that it showed that his daughter is really really smart, I could see such relief in his eyes. I get the impression that anything less than "really really smart" is unacceptable. How will he react if one of his kids flunks out of school or decides to become a mechanic, shop assistant, hair dresser or some other less intellectual job. Why can't he just be glad that he has 2 healthy little girls?


Belovedlife said...

I run into this often enough I can tell you that you and I are different people. We can appreciate the smallest moments, the smallest things our children do, and know that each smile, word, action is a great moment to be shared, treasured and certiainly not taken for granted. Unless someone has walked for a second in the shoes of a parent of any child with any disablity, they have no idea what they are missing out on.
As far as the comment of their child being really smart, and not being able to handle anything less then perfect...that one has a lot to learn ablut life. It is not about the highest SAT scores, or the fact that they are smart. My son has apraxia, he understands everything, but has a hard time expressing himself. I do find myself telling people that he is not stupid, infact he is advanced in his receptive language skills. But does that mean he'll be graduating magna cum laude from HArvard of Yale, not necessarily. But who knows, every child is desreving of a limitless potential. Keep in mind it may also be this individuals wierd way of distanceing their child from your child and your issues. People are funny, they know who to ask for help re: certain issues, yet they will never admit that they have anything in common with you. They are afraid of being different. Yet you, and I have mastered it so people feel comfortable enough to ask you for help, yet will never admit that they have a similarity.
For example a friend asked me about speech issues. I answered, like you did about EI, I was told too that she had her child tested and there wasn't anything wrong. Yer I found out by accident last week that they now have sppech at home two times a week...nothing wrong? Yeah right, more like I can;t admit I am the least bit like you.
Don't take it personally, take it as a compliment that they asked you and be glad you were able to help a child out, even though it may not seem like it.
Sorry to go on forever, just a topic I take personally and find I encounter quite often.

Beanie Baby said...

I always worry about this--I'm so glad when Frances does something "smart," and I constantly worry that my motives aren't right. I mean, should it matter if she's smart or not? No.

I think--I hope--it's just because it would be something she got from me, if that makes any sense. The same way I'd be happy if she ends up liking books or baking chocolate chip cookies--something we have in common. Thanks for the reminder, though, not to fall into the trap of thinking that smarter is *better.*

Kim Ayres said...

Of course what we all want is for our children to be the best that they can be. But as soon as you get sucked into comparing with other people you're doomed. There will always be some kid who is smarter, faster, more coordinated etc.

Naomi said...

belovedlife - I think you maybe hit the nail on the head. Even though he was glad to have someone to ask about EI he really doesn't want his family to be associated with it. Just part of that whole denial thing I suppose.

Beanie Baby - I do know what you mean about looking for similarities with yourself and we all want our kids to do the best they can and Frances is a smart cookie :-)

Kim - I try so hard not to compare, but I think it must just be human nature. I don't have my kids lives mapped out for them like some people do. I just hope they have a fun, happy life and really don't care what job they end up doing (or not doing if they're like their Uncle Will)

Kelly said...

I've got to tell you. I truly believe that children like ours are given to people like us because we have the ability to deal with it. If that makes sense. Not that I'm a saint by any means... but some people were not meant to deal with this crap!