Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Being different is hard

I am not there yet. I am no where near being ok with Matt's differences.

I guess this isn't really the politically correct thing to say,  but it is my reality in this season. I have been wrestling with this issue since Matt started school this year. I blogged about it a few months back, where I thought I had worked through it. Recently I wrote an article for a non-profit that helps parents who want to mainstream their child with learning needs, here too I shared my difficulty watching Matt being different to his peers at school.

Clearly I need to grapple with it on a deeper level because right now my honest feeling is that being different sucks. I have this overwhelming desire for Matt to be like make friends, to be able to share with me about his day, to tell me why he starts sobbing unless his dad or I sit with him until he falls asleep, to engage with other children without being so physical, to be out of nappies at night, and, and.

I have never considered myself to be a follow-the-crowd type of person, rather I see myself as an independent thinker, someone who doesn't just buy an outfit because it is fashion, someone who is confident enough to question the status quo. So it surprises me that I am longing for Matt to be normal. I must clarify, that I don't feel embarressed by Matt - I am happy to take him shopping, enrole him in community activities, and include him in our church and with friends. It is not that I am ashamed of him.

I have been seeking the root of my struggles and I think my difficulty is in part because my relationship with him is not as close as it might be if he could pour out his heart to me. I watch other kids interacting with their parents and my heart aches for that. Despite his blossoming speech, and despite the iPad communication device, there is still so much of his thinking to which I don't have access.

Also I think I am really scared that others won't like him because he is different. And that he will be lonely. My heart ices over at the thought of him being without friend one day - just surrounded by people who are paid to be in his life. I find it hard to believe that Matt will have a place of belonging and acceptance in a society that honours "the normal" and where people invest time and money to be IN so they won't be OUT. I see his differences and it feels like they are a passport to loneliness.

A couple of weeks ago, in the midst of my wrestling, I had an intriguing encounter that has stopped me in my tracks, and that has offered me hope...maybe I can make friends with Being Different. But more about that in the next post.

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