What It's Like To Have An Oddly Shaped Child - The M Word

What It’s Like To Have An Oddly Shaped Child

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It’s the isolation and all swallowed injustices that are the most difficult thing about having a oddly shaped child. You know the child that simply isn’t a round peg built for the life of round holes.

My girl has a medical diagnosis, nothing life altering, but explains many of her little traits. She has a learning difficulty. We’re on the road for sensory work with an occupational therapist.

Life is simply not as easy for my little button as it is for her peers and her sisters. She’ll be fine, she’ll live a life with all the regular markers and events. It will just be a harder life for her.

It’s the parenting advice I receive when she behaves in a certain way, a manner expected by me and understood within her diagnosis. The unsolicited and completely useless parenting advice. What do you do with this advice?? What do I do with this advice?? I’m always at a loss what to do.

When I defend her behaviour, and defend my response to her, I receive a look and silence that is far from silent. The look and the silence states ‘that’s all nonsense, it’s her mother is the problem here.’ When I don’t respond and simply accept this advice, then I feel like I’ve let her down. Like I’ve looked away from her little brown eyes and denied her truth, her struggles.

When she cries and cries and cries before school and someone advises me just to treat her like the others. When she cries as she dresses and undresses and dresses and undresses and each outfit ‘hurts’ her. Someone else advises just to be firm, to ‘not allow all this nonsense.’

When she will sit night after night with new spellings, and still not know them. Someone advises she’ll just have to do more reading and just get on with it, she’ll have to learn them. She’s already doing an hour a day of homework, she’s seven.

When someone advises ‘not to tell the ground about her, as people will talk.’  These are the people that love her and love me, and these are their responses to our struggles. It’s then my heart breaks, every time someone gives me these pieces of advice.

If I just nod and agree, I feel I’ve let mine and my daughters truth be brushed aside. Her struggling, sad truth. When I disagree and try to explain, the whys and hows of her struggles, I’m perceived as being difficult.

I can’t win. I’m tired. I’m tired of worrying. Tired of phone calls, appointments, school meetings. Tired of cramming a day of work into a half day because I have to make another appointment. I’m tired.

When I look for a listening ear, I get advice. Do you think I haven’t thought of all the different approaches? I have. Don’t give me advice. I’m already my harshest critic, it’s not more tasks and homework I need. It is a friend and a listening ear I need and so many don’t listen, but talk instead.

Bríd Barry
Bríd Barry
Bríd is married to Keith, and lives in Co. Cork. She works too much, runs too little, but her greatest honour is being the mother of her 3 daughters. Their wisdom & insight never fails to impress her.