On Accepting Acts of Kindness When You’re A Special Needs Parent
There is a weird line I walk as the parent of a kid with special needs. In many ways, I want people to treat Max like other kids—to look past his disabilities and see the child he is. But I am also OK with occasionally accepting special treatment for him.
That’s what happened this past weekend, when we were at an amusement park. Max has issues with transitions—everything from walking into restaurants to getting onto rides—because of his sensory issues. We’ve gotten to the point where he can wait patiently on line, although if it’s very crowded he gets unnerved and upset. We got to the park early, so the line for the kiddie ride was short. Phew. What inevitably happens, though, is that Max wants to go on the ride again, and getting him off it and back on is hard. For one, he’s getting big and he’s heavy to lift out of the ride; once, another parent had to step in and help me. But the most challenging part is Max’s inevitable meltdown about getting off and on again.
I do my best to make sure Max doesn’t go through life thinking he can get special treatment. And yet, I appreciate it when the attendants at the rides let him stay on a second time (yep, I pay for it). Do I feel uncomfortable with this? Uh-huh. Do I feel it’s not a good lesson for him? Yes. Mostly, I do it for the sake of my sanity. There is a whole lot of juggling you do as the parent of a kid with special needs, and sometimes you accept help even as you doubt whether you should.
Sure enough, Max wanted a repeat ride, and the attendant kindly let him stay on. “Max, they are giving you special permission just this once,” I told him. He nodded, and seemed to get it. Then off he went, a big grin on his face. I had to smile, too, even as inside I wondered whether it was the right thing to do.
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