I know everyone develops at their own rate. My motto is, “don’t compare yourself to others, grow in your own way, in your own time.” Yet sometimes as much as my mind believes this saying, my heart longs for me to really believe it. It may have been years of public schooling, where children are constantly compared to a standard, have goals to meet, and contrasted to their peers. It may be because I am 5th of 7 kids, and despite my parents best efforts to not compare us to each other, I still compared myself to my siblings. Maybe it is just part of human nature. A part of human nature that I believe God wants us to overcome.
Despite my best efforts, I still struggle to not compare myself to others. And worst of all? It is a struggle to not compare my children to other children. I have one child in particular that just isn’t like other children his age. He is different. He dances to the beat of his own drum. He probably could have an official diagnosis, and if he was in public school I could have an IEP for him—I am sure. He isn’t the hardest kid I have ever dealt with, but he isn’t what I would call easy. My friend came over the other day, and in the course of our conversation his behavior came up. She later admitted that she was trying to figure out how to tell me that he isn’t a neurotypical child.
Due to his differences, he has a hard time with friends. They don’t understand why he acts the way he does. In most cases he is typical though, just sometimes he isn’t. Unfortunately he is typical in the fact that he wants friends. He wants to be liked. He has a hard time when he is misunderstood. These all sound like normal human experiences . . . right??
And then I homeschool him on top of this! People wonder why I don’t just send him to public school so he can be socialized. Unfortunately for him, I went to a public school where just because you spent all day with kids your own age, it didn’t mean you automatically fit in. I went to a school where if you were different at home, you were probably still different at school. The only difference is hopefully at home it isn’t thrown in your face that you aren’t “typical.”
Then kids his age started losing teeth. It is so hard to not compare! I knew that he was still in the normal range for tooth loss, but he didn’t understand why everyone at church had lost teeth and he hadn’t. Well, a couple of months ago he bit on a pencil eraser and his two bottom teeth started wiggling loose. After constant wiggling for quite a while, a few weeks ago, his dad pulled out one of the bottom teeth. He really wanted my grandma to do it (she pays $1 if you let her pull it.) But it was a Friday night, and I was worried that it was going to swallow it in his sleep! Later my dad (whom is a dentist) tells me that it is near impossible for a tooth to just fall out in the night. In reality we could have waited.
Josh pulled the tooth out. It bled a little. He was so proud he called both sets of grandparents. I felt so excited for him. A whole new world of losing teeth, and growing up was all his to have. He didn’t view it the same way. After the excitement of calling his grandparents wore off, he started bawling. What I thought would be a rite of passage for him, was nothing but another step in his overall hatred of growing up. He begged me to put it back into his mouth. He declared that he didn’t want to grow up. He then was so upset because he wasn’t ready to grow up. He didn’t know which way to go. My little boy was so worried about choosing the wrong path in life. at.the.age.of.six. He is sweet, he is tender, why in the world would I want him to be neurotypical?