First up, parenting anxiety. I believe my friend, Nicole, coined something along the lines of "First-time Parenting Syndrome" in which us new parents freak out over every little thing we may have done (or not done) to somehow screw our kids up forever.
I had one of those moments the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
His class was doing a special show for the parents to showcase their songs and crafts as a fun send-off for the holiday weekend. I showed up with the throng of other parents only to feel slightly panicked that my son was not among his classmates. His teacher caught me trying to find him and motioned to the empty corner of the room - far away from the rest of the students who were happily singing and dancing in synch.
I didn't see him at first. I didn't see anyone at first, actually. As I slid past parents holding cameras and videotapes, I noticed an aide's head peeking over a bookshelf. Behind the bookshelf she was sitting with my son on her lap. They were reading a book together.
I was confused. Why wasn't he with the class? Did he do something wrong?
The aide explained that he refused to participate in the sing-along. They had tried everything to get him to participate, but he would have none of it. So instead of singing with the class, he sat off in the corner, physically separated from his peers, and looked at books.
Immediately, a thousand thoughts raced through my mind.
Did he suddenly get stage-fright? No. This ham of a kid is willing to dance and sing for complete strangers. Shy will never be a word used to describe him.
Maybe he wasn't feeling well? No. He was happily reading his book and looked perfectly fine.
Was he being disobedient? Yes, but he's not typically the rebel and was very likely skirting the show for a reason... so why?
And then that terrible feeling set in... the parental anxiety I spoke about above... the one in which you can't help but feel ultimately responsible for everything.
I remembered several instances of Vincent being corrected - by his classmates - for his speech impediments. As many of you know, Vince was practically deaf for two years of his life. He finally got his hearing corrected two days after his 2nd birthday. I spent countless hours and likely thousands of dollars getting him treatment and professional help to work on the skills he never developed due to his hearing issues.
So even though he's made incredible progress in the last year, he's still not caught up with his peers - at least verbally. Everything else he's either on par or excelling with. Speech and comprehension, though... he's behind. Making progress, but definitely behind.
I cringed at the thought that Vince might finally be understanding his impediments. I don't think he really understood that he was behind his classmates with speech. He just babbled happily at everyone and typically got his point across because his basic communication was passable; however, now that his peers are speaking in complete sentences and articulating clearly...
You see where I'm going with this?
They're picking up on Vince's weakness. I don't think anyone's been outright mean to him, but kids are kids. They don't realize how mean they sound as they say things like "Vincent sounds funny" or "Why do you talk like a baby?"
I can't help but wonder if Vincent wouldn't sing with the class because he felt self-conscious about his own ability to articulate the words as well as the other kids. He can't really sing along to very many songs because he just can't articulate the words fast enough. He's great with beats and can "babble" in time with the music, occasionally getting out a clear word or two where they're meant to go. By and large, however, he babbles along and I've heard kids call him out on it. I've seen Vince look at them cock-eyed and keep on going, oblivious to what they meant by correcting him... but what if it's finally dawning on him that he's not "on level" with the other kids? What if he's starting to feel bad or not smart because he can't communicate as well as the others?
I had to choke back tears as I took him from the classroom. Again, all those thoughts of inadequacy came flooding in.
I should've gotten him more help. I should've found more doctors to side with me on surgery before he was two. I should work harder with him at home on his communication skills. I need to hire a new speech therapist to coach him one-on-one!
Mostly I just kicked myself on the way home, angry for having put him in a position where he could possibly feel stupid or shut-out from the rest of the group. God forbid he was embarrassed or something. Even now just thinking about it... I'm upset.
Rationally I know this isn't really my fault. As a parent, you can't help but feel responsible, though. There are just days that you are overcome with fear of being the source of your child's pain. The fear that you did something that could possibly harm the most precious little heart you know... it's enough to make your heart bleed. And that was how I felt the entire night.
I talked to John about it, crying the whole time. I couldn't help myself. I felt like such a failure - even though I knew full well I'd done everything in my power to salvage his hearing from when he was nine months old. John patted my hand and told me what an amazing mom I was and that I might've just caught him on a terrible day. Maybe he just didn't feel like singing that day and wanted to read a book instead. Who knows? He didn't seem upset or sad when I picked him up, so maybe John was right... maybe it was some freak incident and I got myself riled for no good reason.
This is just the end result of having children, though. Constantly worrying that their issues are somehow caused by your inadequacy as a parent. *Shakes head* Goodness. It's a good thing I trust God to make up for all the things I'm lacking. I'm not a perfect parent. Far from it. But I do love my son, and I trust that even though I will do a litany of things that will cause my little munch issues, God will be there to set him straight again... to somehow take my broken-ness and fix it up enough so that it IS enough. At the end of the day, that's all I can hope for, huh?