Different is All We Know

I have one child who loves bath time and one child who hates bath time.

I have one child who eats a mere 5 bites on his plate and grows like a weed and one child that we pump full of food all day long and grows about one clothing size a year.

I have one child whose skin is fair and smooth and one child whose skin is dry and rough and flaky.

I have one child who can sweat and one child who can't sweat.

I have one child who sees a doctor only for well child visits and one child who sees a doctor or therapist a couple of times a week on average.

I have one child who tolerates pain or discomfort every day of her life and one child who thinks that pain is a hangnail.

I have one child who gets way too much attention - a necessity for her health - and another child who takes it all in stride.

I have one "typical" child and one "special needs" child, although I've never really related to the term special needs. Of course Brenna can be classified as special needs, as her developmental charts show a lot of delays and she receives every therapy under the sun.

But to me, my children just have different needs, as other groups of siblings do, and they are both special in their own way, with their own struggles and their own gifts.

Parenting one "typical" child and one "special needs" child is not something I often think about, and sometimes I am caught off guard to see a friend with her two "typical" children because I really can't imagine what that would be like. This is completely normal to us, and at this point, it has become completely normal to our children. It's all we know.

Connor usually equates all of Brenna's "special needs" to her being younger. He'll ask "did I have a feeing tube when I was a baby too?" We'll give brief and simple explanations about why Brenna needs some things that he didn't as a baby, but it doesn't really seem to sink in, because he doesn't see her as different. That's just how she is and what she needs.

A while ago, I commented on my blog that now is a unique time because both of our kids don't realize Brenna has a skin condition. Right now, they are both completely oblivious to any sort of difference - despite the extreme difference in their care. I wondered when that might change.

That week, we had dinner with some friends, and the mom told me that she had grown up with a sister with mental disabilities. She had seen my musings on the blog, and she admitted that actually, realizing her sister's differences is something that never really happened for her….at least not until she was well into adulthood.

Though her sister behaved differently and sometimes in a way that could be embarrassing, her siblings never really noticed - their sister was how she was and there was really nothing strange about that.

Her sentiments really touched me, and for the first time, I believed that could very well be the case for my own children.

After all, if we as parents hold our children to the same standards of participation and discipline, push them both to excellence, help them both to be the best people they can be, and teach them that they are as different and as similar as any other siblings…that's all they will know.

Being the parents of these two children is all we know, and having each other as siblings is all they know. So I guess different won't be so different, after all.


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