I've read some blogs and Facebook posts from parents who are angry that someone said their son or daughter with special needs was like a child. Some of the phrases I've read - and heard, "They will always be like a child" "Perpetual children" and "So child-like."
But I wonder if some parents think it means their child is childish.
When I hear phrases like that said about Beth, I try to remember the heart of the person saying it and 99% of the time, they're not being mean or facetious. They just notice a child-like innocence about Beth that honestly, most adults no longer have.
Beth isn't cynical
She doesn't look for the bad in every situation
She looks at the heart of a person
Doesn't care what clothes you wear
Won't judge you by your shoes
She forgives easily (when she understands the situation)
But you know what, Beth also has a lot of childish qualities.
She still eats garlic bread by taking a huge bite right out of the middle. When I suggested she cut the second piece, she did but she wasn't thrilled about her mom telling her how to eat.
She eats too many sweets. Her idea of a snack is a half a bag of marshmallows. And when I suggest to her that those are not healthy and she shouldn't eat them, she gets mad at me.
Then I have to remember, "How did I feel when I was in my 30's and my mom would tell me how to live my life?" Course, now I realize my mom was right, but at that time, those poor decisions were mine to make and I was gonna make them if I wanted to!
That's one of the privileges of finally becoming an adult. We get to make our own decisions! Good or bad. No more mom and dad telling me what to do, I get to choose for myself!
So where do I draw the line with Beth? When do I let her make those poor decisions like a real adult and when do I step in and tell her how to live her life?
That is the age old question for every parent of a child with special needs.
I remember when she was a teenager and still wanting to watch kids shows, like Dora the Explorer. I would occasionally let her, thinking she knew all the answers and maybe it made her feel smart. I don't know. But I also remember finally saying no. I would turn on something a little older like iCarly. And I noticed those were the shows she really liked and she never went back to the younger ones.
I will always step in when I see Beth being childish, but I believe she will always be child-like. And I'm okay with that.