This nice story about smelling the tulips of special needs children is becoming well known. So well known that it is easy for people without special needs children to dismiss the difficulty of special needs parents with a "well, she's in Holland, nice!" Similarly, people who had seen "Mr. Hollands Opus", or read/seen "My sister's keeper" felt like they knew what having a deaf kid with leukemia was like.
One nice thing about this "Welcome to Holland" is the idea that there are people who live in Holland of their own joy and choice. That applies nicely to the people who choose to embrace Deaf culture.
And the Holland analogy works nicely for how you were fluent in one language, studied another, but ended up in a place where nobody speaks your language. And occasionally you meet someone you can talk to and it's rather nice.
Something not overtly discussed in the "Welcome to Holland" analogy is that people in "Italy" don't have it so easy either. "Normal" kids, or kids without a diagnosed and accommodated exceptionality, can get into a lot of trouble. That's why we're so shocked when someone with special needs is killed by police. But so many "normal" kids suffer from depression, aggression, self esteem, etc... that is the norm. Kids with special needs go to physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. When a kid goes to just plain old therapy, that's not as celebrated, but it should be.
I guess I just live in Holland, and I wish the rest of the world would try as hard to be nice, as we try to speak clearly. Every kid could do with some one on one time with an adult trained to see their difficulties and help them be more whatever.
WELCOME TO HOLLAND
byc1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved
Emily Perl Kingsley.
Emily Perl Kingsley.
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.