Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Few Kind Words

The right words, spoken at the right time can make a big difference.

Sometimes a few kind words can change someone's life. Of course, the opposite is true as well. A few ill-timed words can be devastating. I've been on both sides. I try very hard not to deliver the pain causing words. That takes a lot of restraint. It's much easier to give in to the moments of anger and frustration. It's often hard to keep your cool.

This afternoon, I was waiting to pick up my special needs son from a program.

There was another mother waiting-someone I recognized. We started chatting. I know her son's name and diagnosis, but I don't know her name and I don't know their family name. Still, I've watched her son grow up and we see each other from time to time.

We talked about schools and she asked if we were having any behavioural issues with our son. They are becoming teenagers, and developmentally disabled kids enter puberty a little earlier than most kids, and have various issues that they have to deal with.

Her eyes looked sad. They just did.

She said that she was sad because he was approaching Bar Mitzvah age, but as he was not toilet trained he would not be able to put on tefillin, and that though her son appeared relatively high functioning, that he wasn't-in many areas.

I told her to just relax. In an entire lifetime, if it takes a developmentally delayed kid a few more years to learn to go to the bathroom-what does it matter? They will get there. She said the relatives, the friends-always asking-when, when, when. And of course-we have gone through this also.I said we are planning to celebrate my son's life.

The theme is: Shehechiyanu, V'kiyemanu, V'higianu La Zman Hazeh. 

That's from the Hebrew prayer-thank you to G-d for bringing us to this day. That's what we've got: today.

I told her that anyone who questions her parenting abilities because she is "unable" to "make" her child do something should be ignored. If we could "make" these kids do things-we would.

We want their lives to be healthy, we nurture their precious souls and fragile bodies-we want their lives to have meaning and for people to treat them kindly and with respect.

We can't "make" them do anything before they are ready.

I said-did he sit up before he was ready? No? But he did it.

My son, I reminded her-only started walking when he was 18 months old. Almost two years old. Could I "make" him do that faster? No. It was when he was damned well ready.

I told her that another special needs mom recently told me: it's a marathon-not a sprint.

It's a marathon, not a sprint.

We wish, and wish again that it was a sprint. If we just finish THIS leg, then the struggle is over.

But alas-what we wish and what we've got are such disparate things.

So, we trudge along to another specialists. We add another diagnosis to the list. We worry. We try not to worry in front of the other kids. We carry on with the rest of the responsibilities.

But a few kind, well thought out words-that can make a difference. It doesn't change the difficult reality. But it can make the difference between going to bed with red eyes and salt stained cheeks, or adding a little bit more strength in the emotional and spiritual reserve fund to carry on with the marathon.

A few kind words never cost anyone anything-ever.

They help us run the marathon. Always choose words wisely.