Right now I am reading a great book with an odd title. It is called, My Baby Rides the Short Bus: The Unabashedly Human Experience of Raising Kids with Disabilities by Yantra Bertelli, Jennifer Silverman and Sarah Talbot . It is a collection of memories by moms and dads who have done it. Lived the life as a parent of a special needs child.
In the book there is an offering called Glass Houses by Sarah Talbot. She tells of how instead of institutionalizing her son, they basically turned their home into an institution. The State they live in actually agreed that it was less expensive AND more healthy to raise their son at home and bring the services (including aides) to him. However Caleb is not their only child. So by turning their home into the institution they also (for lack of a better word) institutionalized the entire family.
Not only did the parents lose any hope of privacy, so did the other children.
It made me think back to when Boo had Early Intervention coming to the home 3-4 times a week. And how (especially in the beginning) I would “company clean” the house the hour before they arrived. You know what I mean, when you know your MIL is coming to visit so you make sure if she “unexpectedly” opens a closet nothing will fall on her head. You know the stuff that is generally on the floor/counter space? I can even recall telling my husband once not to use the bathroom! And forget the semi-annual evaluations when we not only had our regular EI Specialist but 3-4 more people coming to (in my mind) inspect us while they evaluated Boo.
The day after Boo’s last EI appointment was the last time my kitchen counter was spotless.
But reading Glass Houses brought the memories back and made me think of how under the spotlight we are. Even though EI is over (thank goodness!), we are still under the “view” of the various therapists, teachers and aides. I am sure parents of ‘normal’ children probably have moments of second-guessing themselves. However I bet it doesn’t happen everyday at therapy or when you talk to your child’s aide and realize that you forgot to give the child a bath that morning because you had both been up all night. Let’s face it, sometimes Boo is lucky to have on matching socks!
When we got drafted (since I know I signed up for the child who slept at night, not the one who wouldn’t for going on 4 years) into this life we never expected that on top of everything else we would be opening our lives to constant surveillance.
We have to worry that Boo will bite someone other than herself. We have to worry that when she goes to school, the doctor or a million therapy appointments they will not believe the bump on her head came from herself and not us. We worry about going to the ER that they will think we are a hypochondriac or worse. We worry about that woman in the parking lot who doesn’t understand that we are not hurting our child as we force them into the car seat.
When Boo was in the NICU I worried A LOT. Over the years I have worried more. But back in the NICU I never imagined that when Boo entered our life we would be opening our lives (and Allies) to life on display.
I better make sure Boo’s socks match.