This is my series on parenting a child with a higher set of needs than his peers. Our beautiful boy, has a diagnosis of sensory processing disorder, mainly auditory, with some emotional/behavioural issues. We don’t know if this is because of the earlier ear/infection/hearing issues he had, or if he will “grow out of” his issues. What we do know is that we mostly look “normal” as a family, but there are things we do, or deal with as parents that other parents might not. It can be hard, to explain that we do “x, because of our son” or “that doesn’t work for us, he can’t cope or manage” .
People can be very quick to misundersand, judge or try to offer helpful advice, that may not be what we need or want (that’s typical of all parenting, I do know that, too) but sometimes it gets hard to have to explain or justify how we parent or the things we choose to do.
What you see, and what you don’t see…
What you see:
An invitation to an event, that requires a babysitter. Easy, right? You find someone you trust or who has been recommended, they arrive, your children are either happily in bed, and fine with a babysitter, or are willing to allow the babysitter to put them to bed. You go out, have a nice evening, all is fine. Simple, really?
What you don’t see:
The lively, intelligent, seemingly happy little boy, that cannot cope with change to his routine, or new people being introduced to him, and who doesn’t just “get on with it”. The little boy for whom bedtime is a real struggle, to wind down, to settle to sleep, and who still struggles with sleep issues. Who still needs a lot of help to make bedtime calm, relaxed and easy. (And believe me, it isn’t always) The little boy who gets very anxious unless he’s very familiar and comfortable with the person he’s being left with. This has a knock on effect on his sleep, his behaviour and affects the whole family.
The parents who have had to adapt to this and learn to be patient and work around this. The parents who have worked hard to have a small number of reliable and understanding babysitters with whom their son is comfortable with, and they feel confident to leave him with.
Babysitting for us, takes a lot of work, and planning. It’s not always possible for us to both be at events, because our handful of trusted babysitters also have lives and can’t always help us out. We don’t have family close by who can help out, either.
So, we do what works. We rejoice when we can get a babysitter, and when we can’t, we get on with it. I used to feel a bit resentful, about this, but not any more.
So, what you do see is a family with parents who don’t always accept invitations to events, or one if us will come, whilst the other stays home. We aren’t rude, we aren’t being soft or silly, what you don’t see is the little boy we do this for, to help make life for him and us work.
Sometimes explaining what you don’t see is the hardest part…