AsÂ parents of small children and babies, how many of us have looked at our four, five, six-year old, screaming, half-dressed kids today, and longed for the good old days when they were still itty bitty babies, who would wear whatever cute little outfits you bought for them, and survive on breastmilk and mush, and stay in the three-by-five footprint of a basinet/carseat that you could carry around to yoga class, the supermarket, and in some cases, even the movies?
Well I have. I was just telling Karli today after we’d just put four screaming kids into the back of her minivan that I’d admired her so much how she could always keep her cool, and how I’d need to look at baby photos of Rae and Sky to remind myself how angelic they used to be, every two or three days, just to get through the week without ‘accidentally’ leaving them on the street one day, to be raised by wolves.
And just when I start to dream about how nice it would be if my kids could be as easy to manage as they were when they were babies, a little article like thisÂ puts things into perspective.
Along with hormone doses to limit her growth, Ashley’s parents also opted for surgery to block breast growth and had her uterus and appendix removed.
Ashley’s parents say that because she will remain the weight of a child, it will be easier for them to move her around, bathe her and involve her in family activities – movement that will benefit her physical and mental well-being.
Far be it from me to judge these parents. God only knows how many sleepless MONTHS they must have gone through agonising over the decision to stunt her growth. But is it fair to the child to be denied the chance to grow into a human being of normal size, even though her life will never be normal? Is it really so hard for us, a society of normal parents with normal kids, to accept such drastic measures which can benefit both the caregivers and the child? A good example is the removal of her uterus. If this prevents her from having to deal with menstrual discomfort, AND if this also relieves her caregivers from having to, on top of her other needs, keep her clean, it is simply a practical measure.
In the end, it all boils down to one question: Who’s to say what the needs are of a special needs child?
I’d like to think of these special needs children as babies we still carry in our wombs. We have a responsibility to give the unborn child the best we can to these little beings. We can’t drink. We can’t smoke. We can’t eat raw fish or bad cheese that might not be very good for the baby.
But at the same time, we must do what makes us comfortable and happy as well, and try to achieve the optimal balance, whatever that is, to make the relationship good for both mother and child. We have that extra piece of cake or ice cream. We have sex. We lay in bed all day just to put our feet up.
In the end, WE decide what we need because like it or not, WE are the ones who have to provide for the baby.
Who are we,Â who have never spent a day living theÂ tragedy of a special needs child, to say, “My convenience has nothing to do with this. I am a parent. Screw my life since I’m the one who brought this child into the world”?
Even as parents of normal children, it is a struggle to keep things in perspective. All of us want to be perfect parents for our kids. We want to give them the best. We want to be patient, loving, understanding, nurturing and in Asian societies, even subservient.
But seriously, how long can you do it without resenting your child just a little?
How long can you sit and reason it out nicely with a four-year old why she can’t have just ice cream for dinner when she screams bloody murder at you after a long, hard day?
How hard should you work to care for your handicapped child without making it just a little bit easier on yourself, for the rest of the world to believe that you love him or her – when he or she may not even know it her/himself?
It is impossible for the rest of us to imagine the enormity of what Ashley’s parents are going through. We can only thank God that we may never have to.