I’ve had many many well meant but infuriating things said to me over the last almost five years. So here is my own personal list of things you should never say to the parents of a special child (or maybe just me because I’m a grumpy sod)
1) “I don’t know how you do it”
Over and over and over again. Enough. We do it because we love our children. It is what any parent would do. We do it because we HAVE to and no other bugger will. It’s not a path we chose, it’s the one we were given and it’s our normal. We do it because of love. I love my child, that’s how.
2) “You’ve got your hands full!”
Yep, yep I do. Two children, two hands. Stop saying it. I like to let go when people say this and shout “no look! Hands free! I can still Snapchat!”
3) “I’m sure she’ll catch up”
No matter how well meaning you are, don’t say it. It takes a LOT of heartache to come to terms with the fact your child isn’t going to catch up. Comparing them to “typical” children the same age is a very painful experience. Alternatively, don’t ever put a limit on them. I heard of a doctor once telling a fellow SWAN parent that her son had boarded the train but would never get to the station. Awful. Our children will get to their own station and it will be a bloody marvellous station, bet the coffee there will be excellent.
4) “Special parents for special children”
I’ve already had my say on this one. This is NOT true. Special children make special parents. Not the other way round.
5) “Well she looks normal”
Oh yeah? grab me an EEG machine and lets have a wee look inside her brain then eh. Stop it.
6) “It’s such a shame”.
I kid you not, I hear this a lot. No it’s not a shame. My child is joyfully happy, she doesn’t know any different and she brings so much to everyone she meets. Where’s the shame in that?
7) “Is it life limiting”
Erm, no parent wants to discuss their child’s mortality. Go home and google it if you really have to know the answer to this one.
8) “Will you have more children?”
People ask me this for many reasons, one is so that I can have a daughter to look after Tilly when I’m older (sexist much) and secondly because, you know, there’s a big old risk I could potentially have more children the same. The short answer here is no. I will continue to search for an answer for Tilly’s sake and for my brothers sake so he can have a family of his own one day. But no, my womb is closed for business forever.
9) “Did you do anything naughty when you were pregnant?” Usually said with a wink.
Ah yes, ask an already guilt crippled mother if she could’ve done anything to have caused this. I cannot tell you how many hours I have agonised over whether or not I ate anything I shouldn’t have or how diligent I was with counting the kicks. Don’t even mention it. We carry enough guilt. Wink and see what happens 🙃
10) “Are you her carer?…but you’re so young?”
This has been asked a few times, people assume that only older parents have disabled children. I was 22. This isn’t the case. Parents of special children come in all shapes and sizes. More on this point later.
Here are some things you should say to parents of special children:
1) I got you some gin (and tonic)
3) Yes, I will offer to babysit when she’s 25
4)Your eyebrows look excellent, have you lost weight?
6) You don’t look tired. You look radiant.
7) Shall I walk your dog?