|Is it HATE? Is it ENVY? Does it even matter?|
Okay, consider yourself caught up.
Let's get back to hatred, or lack thereof. Hatred of neurotypical children, specifically yours. Only I don't, hate, I mean. Right, I don't hate your neurotypical child, after all, I have two neurotypical children of my own right here in the Tripped Up Castle and I love them immensely. I don't hate my kids with autism either, although I think I can safely say I do hate the autism itself. Sorry if I offended anyone in the autism community with that, but there it is, that's the fact.
I hate how every day I see kids learn and grow and say the cutest things and make everyone smile, while two of my triplets struggle with the simplest of communication, like saying "Mommy" or "Daddy" or "I want drink."
I don't begrudge the success of your neurotypical children - I celebrate them! Just like I celebrate the successes of Lotte and Sunshine triplet. I will admit, however, that in every celebration of success there's an inner struggle for me as I wonder, "will my Princess and Angel triplets ever reach that goal or one similar to it?" Will I ever just smile in wonderment with them as they show me some amazing feat they've accomplished? And the answer comes, I just don't know.
According to one of the teachers at the girls' school, a typically developing child has to repeat a skill 1 to 200 times before it becomes a learned behavior. With special needs kids, you can ramp that high number up to 2000 repetitions. And the kicker? We don't know exactly what or when our kids will learn or what or when they'll actually retain. We don't know what skills may always remain elusive for them. We live our lives trying to presume competence, trying to have high enough expectations, knowing that if we don't, then we aren't helping them to reach their full potential. It's a constant struggle, and you feel like you can never let up, otherwise you'll fail your child forever. Trust me, as a parent with special needs kids, I've become an expert at piling up the guilt on myself, been doing it for years now.
Sometimes I really want to let go of the pressure and the strain and just enjoy the marvelous wonder of my children - each and every one of them. I find I can easily do this with Lotte and Sunshine, but it's almost as if I'm afraid to let go with Princess or Angel. It all comes down to a fear of losing ground in the basics of what we have right now. The good stuff that is happening. If I'm not constantly focusing, will she forget how to use a sentence strip? Will she stop reaching out and holding my hand at dinner? Will she stop singing with me? Will she decide stimming is more important than trying to communicate?
I used to be the type of parent who believed strongly in "let kids be kids," let them play and experience, let them set the agenda. It fit my spontaneous personality quite well. As a family with triplets, and two of those triplets with classic autism, spontaneity has disappeared and been replaced by a never-ending structure. Simple parenting has been replaced by a strange mix of guiding/therapy/teaching/hoping/loving that always requires more than you ever thought you had, and you're always worried there isn't enough.
No, I don't hate your neurotypical children. Really, I don't, but in the middle of Autism Awareness Month, I do find myself still grieving the lack of typical neurology that exists for two of my children. Sometimes green eyes are pretty, sometimes they're not, and envious eyes are probably some of the ugliest around. Bear with me as I work through the grief and anger of still coming to terms with this diagnosis and what it means to our whole family.