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“Yeah, well, you are so lucky that Teague can’t talk back or be rude.”
These were the words of a friend when I was sympathizing with her over how rough 3.5 year olds can be.
I know in my heart this friend didn’t intend for her words to cut like a knife. She and I have been friends for as long as I can remember, but even with that, those words hurt. A lot.
I desperately wanted to tell her that she is the lucky one because her son is able to easily find the words to be rude. To thank God that every knew word isn’t drawn out painfully, through prompting, repeating, and gesturing. And that even with the prompts, repetition, and endless work, my son’s words are often unintelligible.
I wanted to tell her that because of Teague’s unintelligible speech I often cannot understand a simple request from him. What takes a typical child his age two seconds to request will take Teague minutes, only to not be understood, leaving both him and me in tears.
I wanted to tell her that when the time comes for the boys to enter school, she should have a sense of ease that her son will be able to tell her everything that went on that day. She will hear about new friends made, what silly thing his teacher did, and heaven forbid if he is bullied on the playground. I fear I will be lucky to hear about these things in notes home in Teague’s backpack.
I wanted to tell her that while she plans her day around dropping him off at daycare so she can go to the gym, I plan my day around Teague’s therapies. Forget going to the gym or having a social life, my son’s therapies have become my life. The line between therapist and friend is now blurred because I see them more than I see any other person.
I wanted to tell her that I live with a seven year old that has more lip than a Revlon commercial, so I understand being talked back to by a child. While there are times I want to pull my hair out in frustration, I am happy to know she is able to speak those words.
Instead of telling her all of these things, I told her that I am lucky. Yes, today Teague can’t talk back and be rude. He probably won’t be able to tomorrow. Hell, I doubt he will be able to next week. But there will come a day when he can, and when that day comes, we will celebrate.
I am lucky because I am able to see how truly wonderful that accomplishment will be.
Miranda is a Navy wife and mother to three kids: Hailey, Josie and Teague. All three have a swallowing disorder, Teague has ASD and Josie has Chiari. She was recently diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos syndrome. Miranda is the VP of Community Outreach for the Military Special Needs Network. You can contact her at MirandaFort@MilitarySpecialNeedsNetwork.com
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