Oh, the things we do as parents. My mom tells me, when I was a child, I would only wear clothing from Sears with a Winnie-the-Pooh tag. She eventually started cutting the tag out to put in other clothing. She didn’t have to do that, but it was a simple solution to keep peace. I was slightly spoiled.
In watching the Olympics this evening, I heard the commentators mention the family of a young gymnast who recognized her talent, uprooted their family, and moved to be closer to a gym to best fit their daughter’s needs. I couldn’t help but think about Charles and I who made the decision to move, from the only community I have ever known, to the city. We wanted Caden in a centralized location and close to our work, so we could attend school parties, IEP meetings, etc. during lunch hours.
As parents of special needs children, we have even more “things” we have to do. We have more doctors’ appointments, more tests, more medical worries. We attend more meetings at school listening to our child’s struggles and accomplishments. We spend more money on therapies to help ensure progress to maximize our child’s potential. Some parents get to stop fundraising when their children progress out of the educational system, but we must continue fundraising for our causes. Many special needs parents continue to coach athletic teams until physically impossible to do so. We fight for inclusion, advocate abilities, research, and work toward financial security for our loved ones. I suppose these “things” keep us youthful.
We trudge to amusement parks, buy tickets to the biggest events, buy all the necessities and more, and are rewarded with hugs, smiles, and sometimes non-verbal “I Love You’s.”
Oh, the things we do. Oh, the places we go. We recognize what our children need. And, to some, our actions may seem crazy. Caden will say the alphabet when cheerleading. So, Charles and I practice our cheerleading to get the verbalization. “T-O-P-S, Tops Tops, Tops” is a favorite, as we teach Caden to cheer on our WKU Hilltoppers. On our latest trip to Florida, we decided to take Caden’s favorite stuffed animal to help him sleep at night. When the magic side door opened on our new minivan, a wide-eyed Caden produced a grin. Waiting for him, securely belted in the passenger seat, was a 3 ½ foot, 5-8 pound stuffed “Hippy.” The stares on the interstate were priceless as Hippy bounced down the road. After all, for Caden, a hippo’s gotta ride.