Thursday, August 11, 2011

silly or slow

My children are funny creatures. They love to talk about nothing in particular and about nothing particularly interesting, at all times. Hanna is notorious for grabbing some off the wall topic out of the clear blue sky and start drilling you with questions about it, non stop, until you tell her to go away. Or, she might have decided that she needs to show you a drawing she is working on. But instead of showing it to you once she's finished, she'll give you a second by second viewing of every pencil scratch she makes, for hours on end, or until you tell her to go away. More often than not, Hanna is the one desperately seeking constant attention or approval that sadly backfires because we get tired and irritated and end up telling her to go away.

My head swims with her chattering about the shape of bird feet, why rocks are gray and how come the vein in my forehead seems to pulsate when she talks to me about birds feet and rocks. Sometimes I find myself just praying that one of these days soon I will be able to have a conversation with her that doesn't involve me wanting to chew my finger off just so I could have an excuse to leave. "Gee, Hanna, I'd love to stay and finish this interesting talk but I seem to be bleeding pretty profusely here. Guess I should go to the hospital now. But maybe Andreas wants to hear your theory on why Lizzy's butt is bigger than her head."

This morning we had an actual conversation about this. Hanna was all confused as to why Lizzy's butt looked bigger than her head. To which I replied, "Why is that so hard to understand? Your butt is bigger than your head." To which she got all offended and it ignited this long drawn out idiotic thing about butt to head ratio that lasted the length of what could have been a very pleasant walk. So often I feel like time is just wasted on trying to explain silly things that have no meaning or purpose, it actually makes my head hurt. It makes me crabby. I wonder if she does it because she has nothing she really truly wants to talk to me about, yet she wants to talk so bad that she'll just grab some random thought as it floats around her brain, bumping into cobweb covered equations and forgotten vocabulary words. Sometimes I ignore her questions completely. But I don't think that is any easier than enduring an hour long rant about what sarcasm means.

Which reminds me of being in the airport restaurant the other day. Emma and Eden were acting all goofy and wild and Andreas shushed them and told them to sit down. I said, "yes, we don't want to disturb all the people sitting by us." (we were the only ones there) Hanna said, "But there isn't anyone in here but us". I said, "I know. That was sort of the point." But she didn't get it. So I tried to explain sarcasm. She still didn't get it.

My first born has a learning disability. And even though she looks and seems like any normal teenager, behind the exterior there is a girl who was born 3 months too soon, took years to catch up physically and developmentally to kids her age, and is someone who might have trouble understanding the simplest things for the rest of her life. I'm not saying she is dumb or incapable of learning, because she does quite well in school when she applies herself.

I think it's hard to deal with having a child that has a learning disability when they seem so normal in every other way. I almost wonder if it were easier if she looked handicapped or acted out in such a way that it was obvious something wasn't quite right. Because then, people would expect her to be a little off. But when there is no tell tale sign that she might be slower than the average kid, it becomes more difficult. I sometimes feel like I should explain why she says such silly things you might expect a kindergartner say. I look at her knowing about her rough start, yet expecting her to understand everything right away and act more mature than I'd expect any 13 year old to act. I don't look at her and see anything wrong. Maybe that's a good thing. Because I don't use her disability as an excuse for her to do poorly in school. I push her harder because I know she can do it. She can learn the same as any other kid. She might have to work harder or study twice as long, but she can do it.

We have our ups and downs together. One minute we get along great and the next minute we are teenager who knows everything and mom who doesn't. Like any normal mother/daughter relationship. But what is normal? Is it average? If everyone is different, how can you even classify "normal". I dislike labels, yet I know that some are necessary. I am happy that she has been labeled with this disability because it means she gets the extra help she needs. But until she is done with school it will be a label that will define her as different, slow, special. I get sad for her if I sit and ponder it too long. Which is silly, I should be rejoicing every day at how miraculous she really is, all things considered. Odds were that she would face a multitude of serious problems and we've been lucky not to have encountered any. She can walk and talk and think and do everything you and I do that are considered "normal". And most importantly, she is here with me now, a healthy teenage girl who likes to bug her mom with hundreds of silly questions every day. That's ok with me.

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