...then YOU go to Holland. Anyone who has been online for any length of time, especially anyone who has a special needs child, has probably been sent this sappy email about how the writer bought a ticket to Rome and ended up in Holland, wasn't happy, but then realized all the wonderful things about Holland. The point of the email is that parenting a special needs child isn't better or worse than parenting a normal child; only different, with a different set of joys--and troubles.
To stay with the Rome/Holland analogy, our plane landed in Rome and we did some sight-seeing. After a couple of years, we realized that we weren't seeing what the guidebook said was in Rome, but rather, we thought we were in a suburb, or maybe in Milan or Venice. We worked to get the tour back on track and at times we could even see the Coliseum in the distance--and we had run into plenty of people who were trying to get back to Rome who were set firmly on the road for Holland, so we considered ourselves pretty lucky. However, that Coliseum seems to be getting further and further away, and I don't want to go to Holland.
It seems that the older my son gets, the more his differences stand out. He made it through elementary and middle school with average to slightly above average grades, but he (and I) worked hard for them. Now he is in high school, on a track that is considered average and he is not only working harder than he ever has, he is also making the worst grades ever. He brought home his first F on the last report card--and it was in Algebra, which last semester was his strength. It has become obvious that college is not in his future, and frankly we don't know what is. We've always known he wouldn't make it in this world due to his great personality, but figured his brains would get him through.
We were with some friends the other night. They have a daughter three months older than my son. We've shared potty training stories, gone to each other's birthday parties, talked about choosing schools, and otherwise been a support system to each other over the last fifteen years. This time they were talking about their daughter's first boyfriend. They mentioned that she is rarely home, is busy with dance team, friends etc. She is taking driver's ed this summer. She is looking for a job. She text-messages them when she wants something. She lives on her cell phone. In short, she is a normal teenager (and a cute one too). My son doesn't have a cell phone--and wouldn't have anyone to call beside me and his dad if he did. He has no friends, he has no extra-curricular activities (he dropped chess when they started meeting on Saturday mornings and interfering with his cartoon watching). His grades stink, but he spends at least two hours on homework on school nights. The divide between him and normal kids seems to be widening, not narrowing. I had a kid a couple of years older than him here tutoring him on Sunday. I told them to go ahead in the book if they had time, and my son had a crying screaming slam the door temper tantrum of the type I'd expect from the three year old.
I'm looking forward to high school being over, yet, I don't know how he is going to make it as an adult. No matter what job he gets, he is going to be expected to come in, get to work without further prompting,and work until it is time to leave. No one wants to have to keep telling him to get busy. He is undergoing his three-year re-eval at school and the psychologist asked me what his strengths were, and I couldn't tell her any.