Difficult Children: The Ones Who Fall Short

It is true that every child, even the most lovely one, knows to be pretty nasty. Surely there is no such child that would never get on the parents' nerves, give them a chances to explode, and test their patience. Children are children, not small adults, and child-like behavior is always connected with expressions which irritate adults. That is why there is training in the sense of leading a child, training in HIS way, not ours (Proverbs 22:6), training that builds up a character, that inculates values and directs destructive power, sets up boundaries.

Each child is like a spring of water. Some are strong right from the first appearance on the surface and has many waterfalls. The parent is like a manager of water supplies, wise enough to know where the riverbed is to be deepened and given the firm boundaries in order to prevent endangering everything around by floods, and where there is a need to build a dam so that the inner strength works for benefit of all. The stream and its power cannot be stopped (that would not be wise), only direct.

Other children, intriverts, are like underground rivers with careful flow, which is more complicated for the parents. These are harder to be corrected, nevertheless they perceive every touch on the surface very senzitively, too. If they are not cared for with caution they can unexpectedly burst out from the surface like a crazy geyser--or get lost underground totally.

Even such situations of "normal" children give parents hell. As one saying puts it: "The mother is happiest when the kids are asleep."

But we shal not talk about such children. This page is dedicated to the children who, although given the same inner strength, are not so lucky to meet the "norms" dictated by today's world. Let us take, for example, the developmentally delayed children. Under the communists they were locked in the institutions, their mother were being convicted to disown them, for their entire life they never left the institution in order that the ruling regime did not give the citizens an oportunity to think that this person could perhaps also be considered human, the top of the evolution. There was a phobia created in us on purpose towardes anything different, whether the children with mental of physical disability. The native Americans, on the contrary, adored such kids as the divine children, they enjoyed special privilegies and they were listened to.

Today the situation is slightly better than under the communism but the inculated xenophobia (fear of anything and anybody different) remains. So the parents of such children can expect misunderstanding on the side of doctors (there are doctors who have said to mothers: "Abort it, why spoil your life? Make another, a better one."), on the side of family (sometimes spouses end up divorsed: heavier burden gets them estranged, one of them cannot bear it), intolerance of the people around (gossips like: "They have a stupid boy." "He is retarded because they do not care for him.") To that pressure from outside, already great enough, one has to add also the pressure from inside. From the feelings of failure, self-acusing, to fearing the future, to financial uncertainty, to changes in life-style, to enormous frustration which only raising of a developmentally delayed children brings about. A healthy child is set inside to grow, to learn, to be flexible, willing, changing, improving. These features are (in vrious degrees) developmentally delayed children lack.

Where the parents of healthy children experience the good feelings of well-develping child ("Gee, he made his first step, and he is only ten moths old!"), compare the kid with his peers, have the well-done-job feeling (and they deserve it because the kid really does develop thanks to their love and care), are amazed by the expressions of his creative personality and rejoices over the pictures hanging on the board in the kinderkarten, there the parent of a developnetally delayed child suffers with the fears of unballanced development, acuses both himself and others, experiences disapointment (teaches a child something for a year and the child still does not know it), despair (when after a year or two of teaching some dexterity just one flue makes the child forget everything), and the feelings of inability, forfeiture, tiredness.

It is as if a gardener cares dilligently for his garden, works hard on it to fertilize it, turn it up, eradicate parasites, carefully ties the stalks, watered, and... the plant is weak, weary, instead of strong, clear green leaves there are just yellow, flabby little leaves, the stalk lying on the ground, and no blossom, no fruit. Such gardener is tired, suffers the feelings of vanity, the only reason why he keeps on is that the little plant would not die out. He is never to pick up any fruit. He is alone, left deserted with his troubles in the middle of a garden colony filled with fruitful gardens, beautiful blossoms, weighted with tasty fruit which bring joy to their owners whose work is half compared to his own. Therefore he needs to know that his heavy work is not in vain, that his feelings are understandable, thet he is not alone in the world, that there is someone willing to help and appreciate him. And we believe that our treasure are not here on earth but in heaven, and that the reward is awaiting for for thse who suffer under burdens like this.

However, we also believe that such developmentally delayed child can become a grea enrichment for his environment even here on earth, and that the Lord scatters on earth them like a little diamonds hidden in mud. They teach their educators to perceive more important things than just achievement and success. They teach them to appreciate each single step, because no progress it to be taken for granted (it only appears so with the healthy children). They teach them unconditional love and acceptance (both are forten lacking with the successful children of the successful parents), thay give them thankfulness for each day when nothing horrible happens but we just can be together and enjoy sunlight. They also unmask the hypocrisy and falsehood of the people around and helps to find friends and solidarity in people frm whom we might never expect it.

There are also children who are not handicaped and still they are different. Dyslectics, dysgraphics, dyscalculics, hyperactive, ones with the concentration disorder... From outside it might look as if a dyslectic is a normal child who simply little interchanges some letters but with a little effort everything would be just fine. Who would think that displacing the letters begins already in the brain strucuture where some connections between the hemispheres are missing. The hemispheres then have harder time to communicate. Such person perceives the whle world differently. Normal situations he interprets in his own special way, includes them into his unusual categories and stillmore unusually talks about themn woth others. Tu put is in a simplified form: Thing A happens, he interprets it as thing B but presents it as thing C. (When you say it was A he insists that you say it was D.) No wonder he has a lots of problems in usual average situations, does not know why he irritates other people, feels stupid, embarrased, ridiculous, misunderstood.

Since we are parents of one such child we have to admit that we also did not understand him for long years and we punished him for things that he in reality was not guilty of, and we often felt condemned by others for not raising him up well, we were encouraged to be more strict. For example, how would you handle the situation when he forgets the aids to school, homework, looses excercise/note-books, overshoes, pairs of compasses, rulers, caps, training dress including hall sport shoes (frequency 10-30 items a week). The teachers shake their heads, punish him with rebukes, notes, reprimands, yelling at him, putting him down in front of the class, and they insist that such behavior is unacceptable and that it proves our neglect and lack of controll. So we too yell at him and try to check the content of his school bag but it is a superhuman task because the schedule is lost daily and if, by accident, not, then it is unreadable or with errors. We foprse him to write his homework but he doeas not know whetehr they have any because he forgot to write it down. So we buy a task-book but he looses it. We buy another one but he forgets it at school. We buy another and he makes 300 of paper steamboats out of it during few breaks (and probably classes, too), the cleaning women complain to the principal. We buy still another one but he forgets to write down the homework in it... Help, oh God!

Although we understand the teachers and surely the children like our son cause the losses of their nerves, failures of their blood systems, and increase the occurence of stomach ulcers, there is nothing we can do about it. The only thing that is for sure, is the fact that the school "sarcasm in the classroom" has NEVER brought about any change for better. Perhaps because the cause is NOT neglection and laziness, as some of the teachers claim.

Once our son declared: "Deni is lucky, she is stupid and she does not know it. And I am stupid and I do know it!" Yes, it is so. Deni is mentally developmentally delayed and she is satisfied in her world. She brings all A's and praises from the school. But Domi struggles for each single C and a day when he does not forget anything is a little miracle. At the same time, he is intelligent, gifted boy. However, his selfesteem is greatly damaged by our and the school's attempt to "normalize" him. For example, he draws interesting pictures (as his dyslectical view of the world allows) but already in the kinderkarten he was rebuked by the teachers for not being precise and not drawing in a sleek way. His picture was never on the board, not even once.

Today's world focuses on technical-analytical thinking, the ability to sit for a long time (at the PC), concentrate, fill out the forms, never fight, never run (if so then only in a gym under the controll of a supervisor) and not be oneself. And for on ediagnozed with dys-... and a concentration disorders this is imply unthinkable. But what if these are not DISORDERS but only different personalities? They love large muscles groups playing, they can be courageous, manually skilful, they have good ideas which could enrich us "normal" because the show the world from a different angle. But we would not allow that just because they misplace letters, have dicattions full of mistakes, and gad about hallways.

When raising our eight kids (out of which two have their specific problems, and the others are strong personalities, too) I learned that raising children is about us, parents, more than it is about the children themselves. About how much we are willing to change, leave the old patterns and seek new ones, give up our own ideas about what the child should manage (from the appearance to school results to directing his future). Then we might be enriched by relationship with every child. There is no bad child, there are only parents unwilling (or unable) to change as the child requires.

Certainly there is no child who is only good, nice, smart, and lovely. I picture it as a pendullum principle. Pendullum cannot be up without swinging down. For example, our Julie is very fast-learning child with extraordinary strong will. This will allowed her to ski in age of nearly two, in age of three she could swim, and in three and half read. On her own. But the very same will caused her in infant age to cry sometimes even for six hours in row. She would cry to the p˙oint that she vomited, turned blue, shaked, and there was no way to calm her down. (For two years we slept less than four hours a day.) With the same strong will in age of three she decided that we have to massage her back at 3:00 a.m. She cried so much that she woke up the whole family! Or once in downtown she lay on the sidewalk (4 years) and declared that she was not going any further. When I tried to lift hr up she screamed like a siren, she reared up, beat around, simply could not be carried away. Given the fact that I had another three children with me, too, and also the bag with groceries, I had to call my husband by mobile to come help me. He arrived soon but it was a problem to get her into the car. With her feet she got stuck in the car's door, when we tried to turn her around the stiffened like a plank and could not be broken, during the fight she destroyed the husband's glasses. The whole time she screamed so much that the people from all around were stopping, opening their windows, pointed at us and I would not be surprised had they called police...

Now have a child with a strong will!

And so we wish all the parents of "special" children a lot of patience, love, and a bird's-eye view. These children will become a source of enrichment for you. It is only a matter of finding it.

Back Home