Parenting a child with special needs is more similar to parenting a typical child than different. After all, each of us worry about our kids and, at times, about our parenting skills. We worry about sleep and school and bullies and wonder how our children will live life once we’ve stopped breathing.
We hope that our children will find and be met with empathy and wonder, inclusion and love. Perhaps the biggest difference is that as parents raising children who have special needs, we’re a bit more sensitive. And, we’re probably more worried about what will happen to these superhero kids once we we’re no longer able to advocate for them.
Friends, before having my son, I’ll tell you that I had no idea whether it was kinder to pretend to not notice a child with differences, to ask about him, or to just say hi to his mom (the answer, by the way is that asking is fine, as is saying hi, but not noticing on purpose? Let me tell you now – you are way less sleuth-like in looking away than you think you are).
When it comes down to it, one of the things I’ve learned about special needs parents is that we worry about what types of jobs our children will have. Will he be able to support himself? Will he find a job that he loves? Will people make fun of him? This question keeps many of us up each night.
I pray that my son will find a crappy first job that he loves and hates and is proud of. That he has a better second and third job. That he’ll be able to support himself. Many people with special needs are not able to work, and so I know how lucky we are that it’s likely that Tucker will be able to.
Speaking of crappy first jobs…
“Please let them cancel,” I thought. As my mom hung up the phone, all I wanted was for her to tell me that Jodi and Julie’s mom had changed her mind. That I wouldn’t have to babysit that night. I hoped that somebody’s mom, my own, maybe, would realize that I was utterly incompetent.
I’d recently earned my Red Cross badge which meant that I was an official babysitter at 11. The two girls who lived up the hill were cooler than I was. Jodi, the older of the two, was in my brother’s grade and a mere 18 months younger than I was. I was much more concerned about surviving the evening and being liked by the girls than I was being in charge, and so when I heard “Please let us stay up! We promise to not tell our mom!” I listened, and let them stay up. The whopping $1/hour I made wasn’t worth a fight.
Of course, the girls told their mother, and the next time I went, her stressed-out, over-hair-sprayed head and too-red lips said with a stiff smile “The girls told me that you let them stay up past their bedtime last time. Please don’t do that again.” I totally did it again, pretty much every time I watched them. She paid me $1/hour after all.
Each day, I’d ride my bike to and from the country club to carry around rich lazy dudes’ golf clubs. I remember some of the bags weighed a ton, were full of extra shoes, a million spare balls, etc. When we weren’t “on a loop” (technical caddy term you see), we played cards in the caddy shack. I was the only girl, which was awesome and scary. That was the summer that I gave my first BJ. But not in the caddy shack. Instead, it was at a boy named Boo’s basement while his mom made us lunch upstairs. I also never did find a good way to ask the golfers if they’d like me to wash their balls.
Later in high school, I worked at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Talk about nasty. Once, I dropped an entire tray of chicken on the greasy slimy floor, and my boss had me serve it up anyway *shudder.* Once you got past the disgusting brown polyester uniforms and always smelling like chicken, it was a fun job. Pretty much everybody who worked there was about the same age, we all went to the same high school and often times, at night, work was like a party. We’d answer the phone saying “Kenfucky Tried Chicken” really fast. At the registers, we’d say “How! Hi are you?” It’s amazing how many people didn’t catch it.
I dated two of the guys who worked there and am friends with both of them on Facebook today. Plus, I know how to make biscuits from scratch and that sometimes, there are tiny feathers on the chicken wings.
I drove limos. Billy Idol wanted to sex me. Maybe I should have, but, as sexy as his lips and his accent are, it’s likely that I’d have wanted more from him than he’d have been willing to give, and been disappointed. Plus, ew.
I got a career in marketing, and canceled it once Tucker was born. I stayed at home with him for three+ years, and now work part-time. Somewhere between making $1/hour and today, I realized that money doesn’t matter as much as I thought that it did. I’d rather hang out with this little dude. Except for when I’d rather work.
But mostly, this guy.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post and the sentence is “My first job…” And here, I talk about Special Needs Parenting and the 80’s.