Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"Fakin' it", special needs style

Ah, Valentine’s Day time again. Only this year, we had two days notice to write 22 valentines - not a bit deal for "regular 'ole" kids maybe, but for kids with disabilities that make writing difficult, it can be a BIG deal. In years past, Sayer would dread this task and he would wear out after four or five cards at a time. We needed A LOT of advance time.

This year, Sayer was able to write the names of all his class mates and his own name in short order (with the help of a promise to Burgerville). Luckily, I found Valentine cards that had ample space to write both the name of the sender and the receiver. In past years, the spaces were so small writing was next to impossible (one year I simply typed and pasted all the class mate names).

But full disclosure – Valentine card writing was a major "hand-over-hand" activity. I held the pen with Sayer - well, I did the bulk of writing to tell the truth. However, I did make sure that it had that "Sayer" look - deliberately a bit sloppy, like designer jeans with ripped knees. And Sayer did help with spelling.

I spoke with another mom, who wishes to remain anonymous, who confessed that due to time constraints she wrote her child's Valentines, and was also careful to make sure they looked like her child had done it. This reminds me of the beginning of the book I Don't Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother. This novel is about an executive woman in England who is trying valiantly to balance a demanding job with being a mother. In the opening scene, she “roughed up” and smeared the frosting on a store bought cake for a school function. She was determined that her cake would have the "I baked this at home myself" look, and if that required baked goods trickery, so be it.

Similarly, I think that we mothers of children with special needs sometimes have to do our own fakery just to get by. At times, the expectations of what we can accomplish are too high, given the extra vigilance required to guide our children through activities others take for granted.
If anyone had any "fakin' it" secrets to share, I'd love to hear them. They may not be as bizarre or cynical as the confessions on (l love the one about the "vegetarian" who eats burgers") but we can try!

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