A Private Conversation with a Fellow Parent – Some Reflections (with permission)

Sometimes we parents get to guide our children through learning experiences which are unfamiliar to us, outside of our current comfort zone, and seemingly not within our perception (or another’s) of the mainstream gig of ‘growing kids’.

One way to tackle these moments might be to chat with someone who is further along the parenting journey than we are…so, I recently got to have a great chat with a go-getter parent.

As my adult children have all been blind since birth, this chat was essentially around having a conversation with a child younger than mine, about the differences between a parent/child relationship, and the parent/parent relationship. It came about, though, because the child had heard mum and dad during intimate moments.

Many of us have had the experience of walking in on dad and mum during sex, many of us have had our children walk in on us, and many of us feel either uncomfortable or unsure about how to respond. Some of us also have the consideration of what our children can/can’t see, hear or comprehend no matter what the new experience encountered.

After hearing the parent’s story of what had been happening with their child, how the parent themselves felt about the kind of conversation they may need to have, and the child’s vision impairment coupled with some level of communication/comprehension difficulties, we brainstormed some strategies for the immediate, and some suggestions for in the future.

The child had been repeating sounds heard from mum and dad’s room when they’re alone, and those sounds were beginning to be repeated at particular times. The parent believed that the frequency was increasing and wondered what, if anything, she might do about it. Since there was perceived future negative impact for the family and their relationships, and seeing a potential learning opportunity for the child, these are the strategies we worked out together:

  • Talking with the child about their own special relationships (e.g. with a grandparent or sibling)
  • Discussing something that the child does only with that person
  • Explaining to the child that the sounds heard from the bedroom were only for mum and dad, as their special times with another family member are theirs alone

Because of one of the diagnoses the child has been given, it was recommended that a chat with the educational psychologist that the family already connect with might be a good idea to talk through some of the possible related experiences they may have with the child as they move into teen and adult years.

For the parents, I suggested that the bedroom may not be the only place for physical intimacy. This might reduce or eliminate the child associating what was heard with that room, and the parents. It also brings with it some new interest for the couple relationship…nothing wrong with that!

Who could ever say that we don’t have anything to learn by being a parent?

And thanks to the other parent for trusting me with their story, and wanting to share some of their own journey so others may have a few more tools to work with.

Grateful!

I am grateful for a great many things, some of them healthy and positive in and of themselves; others healthy and positive because I learned, as I was being taught, something/s healthy and ultimately positive, subsequent to those initial “things”.

I am grateful to have grown up with Christian parents; I am also grateful that my parents were first generation Christians, without historical and generational ties to systems, theories, expectations and presumptions – free to learn relationship with their designer and restorer according to design and his character – relatively unencumbered; I am also grateful to see the finite, independent, human tendency to box, enshrine and sequentially define persons and groups, even in those less encumbered (including myself) – we are all human, finite and dependent by design.

I am also, in a broad sense, grateful to be living outside of most “boxes” – some naturally so, others a fight to leave or to stay out of; in the moment, though, living outside of the boxes (and standing for others who do) is hard work, painful, lonely, exhausting; grateful to have been studying community services, learning new experiences of humanity from fellow students and teachers (community servers) – and/or further definition or refinement of my own experience/understanding of humanity.

I am grateful to be the sibling of three other “out-of-the-box” thinkers; I am ultimately (though not in the moment) grateful for the conflict this brings as we challenge each other with regard to our own boxes; I am especially grateful that our love of, and loyalty to each other is not diminished, regardless.

I am grateful that my design by, and restoration to, the image bearing inheritance of the creator – refined by experiential, reflective, learning, growth – led me to tune in to the children granted to me, largely independent of boxes and main streams; my gratefulness also extends to their forgiveness for when I have slipped back into boxes, inadvertently or intentionally tried to box them, and painfully, gradually had to recognise the imaginary nature of said boxes.

Though not true of every day, today I am grateful to be human; today I am grateful to have been designed for a dependent, love relationship with my designer; today I am grateful to have been designed for an interdependent, love relationship with other humans; today I am grateful I’m being restored to be more authentically human, more humbly human – living in acknowledgment of, and according to, the truth of who my designer is, who each of my fellow humans are, and who I truly am in relation to these other truths.

…grateful…

28/5/2017

A Heart Pierced

Assumed I, you would not see me

This, for us, not the pain to be

But stabbing, piercing agony

At tries to sever the heart and soul of thee

 

Eating, sleeping, snuggling you

A people’s person; loyal, true

Though you will seek to please, retain

They will puncture you, to stay the same

 

Affection will your offer be

To those who will not ever see

Your insight and your contribution

Dismissed, unseen, is your confusion

 

Loving, you will love complete

But many will not save a seat

A pierce-ed heart with bloody stain

Like mine, you will sometime sustain

 

4/12/2016

A Heart Squeezed

Revisit a potential loss

To manage, will expect of course

With loss confirmed, it’s no surprise

This time ready, more the wise

 

Feeding fast, though sleep eludes

Enthusiasm, but holding wounds

No praising, hugging, teaching for

This one, will even any score

 

Assured of self, from day of birth

At home assured of all her worth

But other’s insecurities – and need for all conformity

Will squeeze, compress my heart with ease

 

To know your value and your worth

While others doubt, you yourself birth

Your own heart knows compression’s squeeze

As stifled, thwarted you’ll not be pleased

 

4/12/2016

A Heart Pricked

My heart was pricked; a short, sharp sting

My first-born, as I looked at him

Would not, in turn, behold my face

My gaze of love, he would not trace

 

It’s true, there was a heartfelt ache

This path of life I would now take

The ache did not, though, linger long

But late in time, return in song

 

The latter song of long lament

Came with fever, a nightmare sent

And seizures; vacant, empty gaze

Salivate, then sleep for days

 

Lamenting long, and spent of days

To fight for teaching, what a maze!

Some would try to empathise

But weary soon of compromise

 

And now the sting, it lingers on

As time now brings you, your fight song

A world not used to other wise

Lamenting sting now your sweet prize

 

4/12/2016

You

What’s in your heart?

Are you afraid to see?

Will it be what they’ve told you?

What you think it will be?

 

What is more frightening,

The truth or the lies?

In truth, is there freedom?

In falsehood, bondage and ties?

 

Around your heart’s surface,

Have you set up a shield?

Detachment, a pretence

For what your inner-heart feels?

 

Your outer-wall surface,

Your shield around self,

Is not intrinsically you,

But sheathing observed on a shelf

 

The inner-most substance

Of your design before time

By internalized truth and love

Is being strengthened, refined

 

21/10/2016

Talking with My Child About Being an Exception from the Mainstream

I must confess that this is a question I had to consider for a while when first asked, particularly as it was a question of ‘when’ to talk about it. After knowing that my first child was not able to see, there had never been a moment where this was not now part of our life – so it was talked about.

I realise though, that this is not everyone’s experience.

Acceptance of change into our lives is part of the course toward a new ‘normal’; as is denial, resentment and embracing the change. You may not be ready to talk to yourself about your child’s experience (or your own), let alone talk with your child about it. Also, your child may not be ready to talk about their experience, which limits any talking you may do as well.

From my life’s experiences generally, my degree of acceptance determines not only if, but also how, when and with whom I will talk about my life’s experiences – generally or specifically.

 

My experience was that my children were blind from birth. Though my eldest was not diagnosed until 5 months and my two other children could not be until after birth, they have always been blind and we have known no other experience of each other. When I consider unknown vision deterioration or sudden vision loss of a child or young person, I recognise so many differences to my ‘normal’. Having said that, acceptance of the new ‘normal’ (even a still changing ‘normal’) by parent and child, will still be a determining factor around talking about the vision loss.

My children were unfortunate/fortunate (you’ll have to ask them) to have a mother who talks about everything and anything – can be a hindrance with teens and young adults but that’s another post – but I was also taught by early childhood educators and speech therapists that I needed to talk about everything; describe everything; provide opportunities to experience everything (that we could anyway); encourage a developing understanding of all that was experienced and described. This included explaining that I could see what they were doing through the glass of a window, but not a timber door, and that they could not ‘see’ through either of them; that we were walking up stairs and counting them, then down stairs and counting them; that I could see the trees in the paddocks (fields) through the car window, and as we drove past them it appeared as though they were moving because we were (actually, that took a lot more explaining); reading print means my eyes can see the words without them touching the page like their hands do when reading braille…If the fact that they do not see, and I do, was not discussed and described then they would have had a limited view of the world in which they live, and the people with whom they live.

It was also important for my children to know that there were many others who did not see, sometimes in a similar way to themselves and other times in a different way; that I wear glasses to be able to see things clearly; that glasses wouldn’t help them (and why – glasses don’t help a retina which isn’t working properly, what part of my eye benefits from glasses); to meet braille readers, children and adults; using canes; meeting dog guides; riding with people in their wheelchairs (which requires someone else who has accepted their own ‘normal’ – also, the rides were offers not requests, looking at someone’s wheelchair is something I would have requested though)…

 

Much of our fear and resentment in life comes from not knowing, from the unfamiliar, the unrecognizable (difference). Knowledge isn’t every thing, but it is a very important thing. As parents, the more we embrace and pursue our own knowing and learning, the more we will pursue opportunities for our children’s own knowing and learning – of their own, they will not and should not be carbon copies of us.

My hope for you, is that you will embrace who you are and who your children are – each individual, valuable, worthy one…whether these children are your own, your class, or under your training of any other description or timing.