Wildflowers for Jade: October 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Looking in closets and under beds

Photo from Wikimedia
I’ve been up all night again, with no intentions to stop anytime soon. Tonight I’m working on a very important article, an in depth look at Seclusion and Restraint in schools. I think it’s important anyway. I’ve been putting off finishing it for too long, because the subject is hard and the research is terrible. I don’t think I’ll be able to convey even a small percentage of it.

In a way, I feel that I’m doing this for Jaden. He will be homeschooled, but the discrimination and mentality that allows and drives these practices is alive and cancerous in our society. The unspoken idea that our children – these precious, innocent children – are subhuman. That somehow, having a developmental disability, a communication disorder, a physical handicap, makes you “a soulless empty shell” or “unable to contribute to society.”

You see these, and many, many more comments I’ve had to read already. Had to, because I’m not doing this for glory (who looks at the byline anyway?) or money (minimum wage looks downright wealthy compared to my pay-rate). Heck, some of the top advice about writing online for money I am breaking all over the place right now. “Write quick, short articles. Don’t spend time and research on them because that’s not financially worth your time.”

But that’s not why I’m writing. If it were I could plug my TV cable back in and write about Snooky, whoever that is. I’m writing because somewhere, a little child is going to wake up on Monday with a rock in his stomach, dreading the day. Somewhere a little girl is going to be forced into another broom closet, and not have the ability to tell her parents it’s happening. So I am. I will try to tell them, to look under their beds because sometimes there really is a boogey-man there. I know. One of them posted a comment on the video of Jeremy’s ordeal. Instead of the human response of being sick to her stomach as many of us were, she was angry and defensive. I believe that only a person who has done this would react that way.

And they think of our children as subhuman, soulless, non-contributors? Is that what qualifies as quality contributions to society? I’ll take instead the beautiful smiles, innocent eyes, the pure displays of unfiltered human emotions, that I see on the face of my son and in my friends’ children.

What kills me is that the wrongness of it needs an explanation. That I have to research experts to back up the obvious - that this is a horrible and barbaric thing to do to a child. ANY child. That it's archaic, that it's torture. That it "causes PTSD" and is proven to be ineffective should be something that shouldn't need to be told as evidence of it's being wrong. Being a human should tell you that.

Back to work. My least favorite time of the year is upon us. It’s Halloween and I have monsters to flush out.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Jaden's Journey

What's behind that fence? The dog park of course!
Searching through my (literally) thousands of photos tonight, I came across this picture. It was taken 3 years ago, almost exactly, when Jaden was little over 13 months old. We took Jaden to the park that day, to play in the grass and pull him in the wagon. Suddenly he became very focused. Walking was still new to him but he was determined. We were curious. Where did our little one want to go so badly? Slowly and with many falls along the way he climbed up the hill. That’s when we saw and heard what his keen senses had picked up all that long way. He’d made his way to the dog park! Later, I cut and pasted the photos that we took and dubbed it “Jaden’s Journey”.
Looking back, I believe it’s that fierce determination and fearlessness that has brought Jaden this far, and will bring him the rest of his journey, wherever he wants to go. He’s always had his very own ideas and “no” is a hard concept for him. Sure, that’s made parenting an interesting and sometimes scary challenge, but I love that about him. I’ve always thought “But it’s these determined children that are going to change the world!”
My baby boy told me yesterday that he was going to be an astronaut. Then he decided he was going to be “Buzz Lightyear.” Because he’s a hero.
I’ve no doubt that Jaden will find a way to go wherever he’s determined to go on his journey. I am also determined, and am working to clear away some of the obstacles in his path. Hate, prejudice, stereotypes, neuro-typical entitlement, pity.
It’s his journey but he doesn’t go alone.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Just Jaden

My son doesn’t like to be called a “big boy”. It’s not incentive for switching from diapers to underwear, or to try new foods in Feeding Therapy. It’s not praise for accomplishing something that was hard.
“I NOT a big boy!” he cries.
“What are you, then?”  I ask. “Are you a baby?”
“No! I’m Jaden. Just Jaden.”

Jaden likes to put his towel over his head and pretend that he’s a ghost, and I pretend that I’m scared. Then he pulls the towel off and says calmly “It’s just Jaden, Mommy.”

It took a lot of work just to get Jaden to answer the question “What’s your name?”  Now he says it proudly. Repeatedly. Hit himself in the chest with enough force to make me wince and leans forward. “I’m Jaden!”

He’s confident that that’s enough. If I’ve done one thing right out of the multitudes of screw-ups and wrong choices, it’s that I have managed to instill in him self-confidence. He’s bursting at the seams with it.

Tonight he painted a little wooden leaf I bought from Hobby Lobby. All I did was open 3 colors and handed him the paint brushes. I watched how much he’s progressed as he remembers – this time without my prompting – that he can dip the brush in for more paint when the brush runs dry. He turns the leaf over and paints the backside, too, little tongue sticking out of the corner of his mouth in his classic look of concentration. My praise and joy are genuine as I exalt “You’re such a little artist!”
“I’m Jaden,” he replied.
“You can be Jaden and an artist at the same time. ‘Artist’ means someone who likes to paint.”
His brows furrowed as he repeated my last sentence several times. I could almost feel the protest still rolling in his head. I don’t know how much he understood.

It’s been 14 months since I’ve moved into my own little spot of “my child has special needs” hell. 1 ½ months since diagnosis. We have our regular therapies and are working on integrating more therapies. There’s 2 different medical appointments scheduled with a promise of more. I constantly deal with all the nagging, clawing questions of the future. How will he function? Will he be able to take care of himself? Will he be happy?

Maybe on some level he understands the tension in me, it’s almost as if he knows I need the reminder.

“I’m just Jaden, Mommy.”

Yes you are, baby. I wouldn’t change that for the world.