Monday, September 13, 2010

Aside: Developmentally Delayed

Developmentally Delayed.

What does it mean?

All parents face the anxiety of their children not developing as quickly as others.  Will they stop breast feeding or bottle feeding before the neighbor's kid?  Will they potty train as quickly as Susy down the street?  Will the speak early?  Read before kindergarten?

Developmental delays are different.  How different?

developmental delay: any significant lag in a child's physical, cognitive, behavioral, emotional, or social development, in comparison with norms. 

The key word here is "significant".  In comparison to "norms".

Your child isn't just a month or two behind Johnny and Susy.  He/She's a year behind.

Or two.

Or maybe three.

The thing is, developmental delays are sneaky.  Not always so easily visibly in public, and that's actually worse in some ways.  People on the outside don't see  the struggles and battles being fought at home - much longer than they should be fought - and that makes it very lonely for parents of developmentally delayed children.

We feel chained. Trapped.  Corralled by a behavior that worked itself out of our friends' children long before ours.  We also feel selfish - our children should be our priority, right?  Not cooking and cleaning or keeping house or getting the lawn mowed in a timely fashion or working on the lawn.   

We also don't want to talk about it.  We don't want to complain.  There's always someone who's had it worse than us, so we should just suck it up.   Deal.  When our child goes through the "Terrible Two's"  as a three and half year old, we should just count our blessings.  Wait it out.  Not complain.

When our child's vocabulary and intellect has blossomed but he or she still throws tantrums and fits because he/she doesn't know how to control their emotions, we should just put on a straight face and be thankful.

When our children are still clinging to us - much later than they should - and suddenly neither of us can leave the house even to run to the gas station without said child throwing a tantrum, when sometimes it feels like we can't even go outside because we have to watch our three year old like he's still an infant, we're supposed to pretend to be happy and grateful for all that God's done for us.

Sometimes, though?

That's just really, really hard.

But we still do it.

Suck it up. Put on the happy face.

And pretend everything's okay. 

Because there's nothing else we can do.