That he/she can be anything they want to when they grow up. Don’t fill their heads with dreams and ideas of becoming a famous basketball player, rock star, or the next Taylor Swift. You think are you are encouraging a kid to believe in him/herself, to reach for the stars. But you are not. You are ruining the reality so fragile that it may take years to build back up what you just broke down with your fantasy tales.
See, my kid isn’t based in reality. My kid doesn’t understand how the world works. He/She thinks if “I want it, I should have it.” School, hard work, earning, saving, and deserving are words that are not in their vocabulary. What we call “NT” (neurotypical kids, kids without trauma and damaged brains from god-knows-what was ingested in utero) understand that in order to become a famous basketball player, you first have to learn how to play the game. Then you have to practice and practice. You have to work hard. You have to earn it. And you have to have a whole lotta luck to be in the right place at the right time.
My kid doesn’t have that base in reality. He doesn’t understand that first you have to learn how to play basketball before you can even begin to think about making a career out of it. It seems basic to you, how could he/she not understand that, you think? Welcome to our world. These are the basic understandings of life that our children do not understand, they do not connect the dots, and even if they are chronologically 16 they may very well be two years old in their understanding of life and how it works. It’s not bad parenting on my part. It’s not that we don’t try to show by example, that we don’t talk about it, that we don’t read biographies of people and learn how they go to where they are. But my kid can’t connect the dots.
So when I ask you to not encourage my child to do things outside of the “right now”… do your school work, do your best, work on what’s right in front of you at this minute… Then please do me the courtesy and respect of doing as I wish. You may think I’m a mean-ass parent, too strict, whatever, and you are welcome to your opinion. But my child is not welcome to your opinion, and neither are you welcome to negate what we work so hard to instill in our child, so that someday, just maybe, they might be able to live a productive life and provide for themselves. Because what you’re doing – harsh reality, here, peeps – is showing my kid the path to jail. The path of if you want it, take it, you don’t have to work for it, because you want it. And when that doesn’t happen – because if my kid never picks up a basketball other than to throw it at his brother’s head – he will never learn how to play the game, and will never become a famous basketball player. And when that doesn’t happen, it’s back to living moment to moment. No millions from playing basketball? Then steal what you want, someone else has something you want, so just take it. It’s your right.
Because that’s how our kids are wired. You don’t tell a kid with CP that if they just focused, or tried harder, they would be able to stop the tics or control their muscle movements. You’d look like a fool. Just because my kid’s disabilities and inability to see cause and effect, the linear progression of things aren’t obvious like uncontrollable muscle spasms doesn’t mean they aren’t there. I took the time to explain to you how to interact with my child because I wanted or needed you to interact with my child. But you don’t know my child. You see the charm, the fake, the public personae. I know my child, how he/she thinks, acts, and understands. My child has a disability. Respect that. Don’t tell a kid in a wheelchair that if they want it bad enough and try, they should be able to walk up that flight of stairs. When put in those words, you understand how stupid that sounds. There are some things that not everybody can do, whether you’re disabled or not, whether you have extra challenges or not. I will never be a seven foot tall basketball player. It ain’t happening. I can chase that dream all I want, but I’m going to end up starving on a street corner if I focus just on that idea. And so will my child.
If you want to encourage my child, encourage them to finish school. Encourage them to do what most people would call “every day, mundane things” like learn to wash clothes or change their underwear daily. Because my child lacks those things. That’s where it all needs to start. And I need your help to help my child achieve even that in life. That’s the part YOU need to understand. My child cannot accomplish even those goals without a lot of extra help and support. And that’s what I am doing.
Would I like my kid to be able to do whatever he/she wants in life? Of course, as a parent, I love my child with all my heart. But as a parent, I also need to live in reality, the reality of being able to hold a job, provide food and shelter for oneself, learn how to have relationships with other people appropriately. That’s my reality. That is my sole focus and goal right now.
I need you to help me in order for my child to attain that goal.