Saturday, August 11, 2007

Expectations

I have big plans for Lili. Not really plans, exactly - I envision wonderful opportunities and experiences for her. Don't worry, we won't be forcing her to do things she doesn't enjoy. But, I truly believe that I will not deny her any opportunity to try something if she wants to. Society comes up with a lot of "well, kids with Down Syndrome won't do such and such" or even better "Downs people aren't very good at this and that" (I'll rant about person first language another time). All the parents I have met have generally agreed that they want the best opportunities for their children, whether they have special needs or not.
But I challenge you all - do we really give our kids every opportunity? Do we hold them back just a little, saying to ourselves 'maybe when she's a little older' or 'well, he's not so good at that kind of thing'? I'll admit, I've been guilty quite a few times. I'm a clingy dad, but if I get up the courage to let her try something new, she usually blows me away with how well she figures it out. And she's 2. I'm a new dad anyway, so I really didn't have any idea how clever 2 year olds were at all. Little did I know she can climb all the way up into the seat of the bench swing and start swinging herself, or tell me all about her day: "sunscreen, outside, swing!, Jesse, play, the sun, hot!, splash, water, brrr!"
I got thinking about all of this while reading a great post called Was I ever wrong on a now-defunct blog by Michael Berube, author of Life As We Know It and fellow Happy Valley resident. These revised expectations are a perfectly natural, healthy way of reacting to the parenting instinct - we primarily want our children to be safe and comfortable. We don't try to underestimate them, we're just trying to be reasonable. That type of thinking is not exactly dangerous, but can lead you down a slippery slope - planning way too far into your child's future, assuming that they won't do this or might not do that. Forget that. I have no idea what Lili will be able to do tomorrow, but I'm not going to tell her what she isn't able to do.

6 comments:

Leticia said...

Archie, I like your can-do attitude! Would you like to post this in the carnival to encourage other parents?
I am hosting the first ever Down sydrome blog carnival tomorrow August 12th, on Cause of Our Joy http://cause-of-our-joy.blogspot.com . If you have a favorite post about Down syndrome to share, please email it to me ASAP, and I'll post it.
Don't worry if you missed this one, we'll be doing this every week on different blogs, so you can join in another time, or host it yourself. I just thought this would be a great opportunity to get to know one another better and spread Down syndrome awareness.
Hope to see you at the carnival!
Leticia Velasquez

Leticia said...

My email is leticia77@optonline.net

Kim Ayres said...

Your basic parenting fears and concerns for Lilienna would be exactly the same as if she didn't have DS. There are times when I catch myself holding my (very able) 12 year old son back from things that I've convinced myself he's not ready for yet.

But when I'm not sure, I remind myself that my task as a parent is tomake sure that at the point my children leave home, they are capable of surviving without us, and they won't be killed by their own, or someone else's ignorance. I find this helps me to nudge them on a bit sometimes and overcome my natural tendency to over protect

Archie said...

Leticia - Thanks for visiting! I'll throw my hat in next time; sounds like a neat idea.

Kim - You are right on. I worry mostly about over-over-protecting because she has DS, but those fears generally diminish more every single day. Thanks.

Shannon said...

I am guilty of that for sure. I am trying to change it though.

Amy said...

Archie -

I am glad you found Michael Berube. Isn't he great? I had a lovely email exchange with him and I really enjoyed his book.