The Different Child!

I’m not one to go to coffee shops just so I can sit and watch people, there is just too much to do … personally I think it is a bit creepy and its reserved for stalkers and weird people. Having said that, at least once a week, due to the nature of the ritual and place, I am required (as are my children) to sit in silence and commune. I LOVE IT! The enforced silence calms my overstuffed mind and stills my weary spirit. I do however, enjoy watching the exchange of moments between people (I’ve mentioned this before in … Zenith - When are we enough?) reading body language and witnessing the most intimate of unspoken connections.

About 6 months ago I found myself at Children’s Mass one Sunday mid-morning, not a mass I usually attend for various reasons. The light however at this particular mass streams in beautifully across the pews as the sun hits the coloured glass window panes. Looking across I remember thinking how beautiful it was, when my eye was caught by a well-dressed suited women in her early 40’s (or was she) wrangling with a beautiful little girl about 2 years old on her lap. There was no dad (for whatever reason) and another little girl of about 8 years old next to her trying to distract the little one in her mother’s arms. It took me a moment, but then I realized that the 2 year old child was a child with special needs … a Different Child! I looked to the mothers face, she was bone weary, tired (it was 10am), she wasn’t losing her temper with the little girl, she was trying to manage the situation as quietly as possible with absolutely no opposition. The little girl was arching her back, moaning and pulling away from her mother and sister … even though I noticed how much the 8 year old was trying to sooth the little one … my heart sank!  When I looked up into the mother’s face she looked numb, absolute resignation, this was the situation and she was doing her absolute best to manage it but honestly she looked like she was a shell of a human being … doing what was required. I wanted to burst into tears … the look on her face has stayed with me since …

Then there is another family in our parish, this family have a child with Downs Syndrome. Just due to the nature of habit we regularly end up sitting behind them at mass. As I sit in the pew and repeatedly remind my children (like I do every week) to sit still, stop fidgeting, be quiet, stop fighting, keep their shoes on, stop picking their nails or nose, use a tissue, don’t set themselves on fire when they light candles, listen, whisper in my ear but actually don’t talk - I watch the family ahead of us. There is a dad, a mom, an older sister and then this Different Child. She is quite mature of age for a child with Downs, in her late 30’s. I watch the interactions between the older “normal” sister and the younger sister. It’s beautiful to see. Such patience, such gentleness and if you speak to the mum, she once told me that this Different Child taught them how to love with such purity. It regularly fills my eyes with tears watching them, as I look back at my absolutely BEAUTIFUL, HEALTHY, PERFECT GIRLS and I have such a short fuse with them … shame on me …

Our Youngest, absolutely completely beautiful and healthy beats to her very own vibrant drum, which I absolutely love love love!  She is our Different Child!  She doesn’t mean to be naughty (she is not malicious) but she just doesn’t always ever agree with what we need her to do.  Recently we have been at logger-heads with teachers and Intervention Specialists around the use of Ritalin with her. I am adamantly against it! I can not stress this enough!! We didn’t use Ritalin with our oldest (“they” said she needed it too) and she is doing so well at school now. But Junior does not fit into societies mould (which I absolutely love about her) but to be absolutely honest, she doesn’t really want to be in school. Too regimented, too many rules, too early … and she is learning too many consequences. She wants to be a care-free spirit that is in the garden with her Grandma watering and planting flowers or playing for hours with her My Little Pony’s or Barbie (don’t we all). But alas at some point we must all grow up …

So what have I learned … beats me … I thought I was better prepared for round two but I am at a complete loss! I believe we are firm but loving parents (but of course I would), my family believe we are too hard on the girls. But I believe in the realities of the harsh world out there, somehow melding that with allowing the girls to explore and development their uniqueness. I don’t want drones! I love the sassiness of Junior! I love that she wears 2 different shoes!  I love her individual’ness!  But\And how do I force understanding, ramifications and maturity on a 7 year old (which I don’t believe in) … were you or I forced to understand ramifications and consequences at 7 years old? Were you and I not taught (over time) to focus and concentrate, instead it being a MUST HAVE on Day 1 of Grade 0? And don’t give me that BS about it is a different world and time, it shouldn’t be! Children are like cooking the best results are from slow and steady constant preparation! Nothing tastes good from the Microwave!

One thing the fight for our older child taught me … someone has to be their advocate!  And for just a little longer I will stave off Ritalin and encourage Junior (and Senior) to live boldly, celebrate their uniqueness but somehow remind them regularly and kindly that they can live boldly but know when to conform to the rules.

Love you all madly!Warm regards …             
Collette in Cape Town

Song of the Post … Don't You Worry Child!  by Swedish House Mafia


Cathy D said...

Hi Colleen,

My daughter was also told to put her son on Ritalin and she flatly refused - with me right behind backing her up.

I phoned my Homeopath and explained the situation, and he prescribed some medication which helped tremendously.

The teacher at school said he had to be put onto 'Teachers' Report' daily, in which each teacher had to mark him out of 10 at the end of each lesson. That kept him very focused, and at the end of the year, the teacher admitted that he had not needed the Ritalin and that Heidi had been right to refuse it.

I'm sure there must be a Homeopath in your area, and mine works in Claremont.

Hope this helps


Cathy D said...

Sorry - wrong name - I mean Collette - senior moment - forgiveness please....!!!!!

SkyMommy said...

It sounds like you love your children for the unique people that they are. That is so refreshing. Everyone can't and shouldn't fit into one mold. Life would be so boring if we did.

Zenith Thinking said...

@Cathy D - I've had a HUGE aHa moment about Junior and Ritalin this week ... it so aint happening! Thank you for stopping by and commenting!

@SkyMommy - Agreed, I don't want my children in any mold. I love their individuality ... and it is my job to clear that path for them ... Thank you for your comment!

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