What is it about?

The rollercoaster adventures of parenting three kids, dealing with disability and mental health - and discussing disability discrimination and how to tackle it.

Monday, 22 September 2008


Beaver came home from school today all upset.

There have been a few small issues recently, and today they came to a head. It might be because he's got a bit of a cold and is struggling. It might be because he hasn't been sleeping well recently. it's the end of the term, and he's exhausted.

His remedial teacher has been talking to his grade teacher to change some of his homework (in essence, give him less). The kids in the class have been given their next maths book, and he has not. And we've just had the sports carnival, always a stark reminder of his difference and limited physical abilities. It may be that many of the parents and teachers and staff at school admire him for his guts to have a go, but he's acutely aware that the kids have no such insights. And like any boy, he just wants to run and win. Today the kids played soccer, and some boys did not want him in his team.

So Beaver came home in tears.

"The kids say I'm a loser".

"I don't want to be different."

"I am the slowest runner in the school".

"I don't want to have CP."

"There is nothing special about me."

"I want to do the same work as the other kids. I need some help, but I want to try to do it."

These are just some of the things that came out. Possum was doing his homework with Jess, Boo Boo was chucking a tantrum - so I took Beaver to our bedroom and had a long chat with him.

I told him that, yes, he was the slowest runner in the school. But also the bravest.

I told him that maybe he wasn't great at soccer, but he's a good actor.

I explained to him that CP is part of his life, and we have to find a way to live with it. That everyone is different, and we all need to work out what we're good at in life. We discussed maybe trying some special needs soccer. Or maybe another sports, like archery or something that the CP Sport and Recreation Association offers. And I promised him that I'd have a talk with his teacher about the homework issue, and that maybe we can do his special homework and then I can help him with the other. I explained to him that our upcoming appointment with the Physical Disability Clinic specialist is to help him manage the effects of his CP, and to make living with it easier. And that it will not ever go away, as the doctors have not found a medicine to make it disappear. But they are trying to find one, and in the meantime, we have to just live life as well as we can, and do what we can, and try, and enjoy life, and be happy.

I told him that he was special in my eyes, because I love him very much.

And I told him that his CP was not his fault. At which he looked at me in total and utter surprise. I told him that it was mum and dad's fault, because when we made him, we made him with his deep dark eyes, his thick hair and his CP. It had never occurred to him that having CP might not be his fault! Oh God! Poor lad!

How could I have missed making that point clear to him earlier !?!


Nelba said...

This made me cry. I admire Beaver though. And you for handling the situation so well.

Susan, Mum to Molly (3) and Lulu (6) said...

Dear Heike

What a beautiful post. You are an amazing mum. Tears are falling, that both you and your brave, brave boy have to have this conversation.

I have often found (mainly with Lulu, bit early to come up with Molly), that much as we try and predict what will bother them - the things they worry/feel bad about are often very different from our imaginings... Its always a great insight into how their minds work though!

I love your answers though. Hope the last few days of school go well (we took Lulu out of school for the last week of term 3 and are having our first family holiday since before Molly was born).

Bye for now, Susan

therextras said...

You have my utmost admiration.

Fiona said...

It's amazing that we explain stuff so carefully to them but never think of the very basic things in their eyes. You did well. Only once I asked Mr S if he wished he could walk. He looked at me like I had two heads and said "No, I wish I could run". Of course he does.

Dianne said...

This is a beautiful post Heike. It brought tears to my eyes but definitely not all of sadness. He's an amazing boy and you're an amazing mum for handling the situation so well.

Your words to your son were very wise and very empowering. And his determination is brilliant. The two of you make a great team.

Thank-you so much for sharing this very special conversation. I can tell your for sure it will make a difference in my world. I'll be bookmarking this page to come back to when I am faced with these sorts of questions in the future.


Antonella said...

We met once, just after your oldest boy was born; I was at school with Richard. This post is indescribably moving. You are a very beautiful woman.

Sharon said...

What a touching post. You have now discovered something he feared and put his mind at ease, so well done.

And how does he think the other children in his school would cope if they had his impairment; in a more evenly matched contest no doubt he'd leave them in the dust!

Karen said...

What a beautiful post.