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Saturday, March 3, 2007

Smarty Pants

I have a secret. It’s very difficult for me to reveal. But I think the time has come for me to be honest.

I think that Ellie has permanent cognitive delays.

There, I said it.

I want desperately to believe that she is intellectually normal, but as time passes, I’m not sure about some of her cognitive abilities. I absolutely HATE admitting it, because it makes me feel as though I’m telling the world that I think she’s dumb. Which is sooo not the case. I KNOW that sweet Ellie is smart. I know that her wheels turn. I know that she “gets it” a lot of the time.

I also know that she doesn’t “get it” as quick as other two-year-olds. As much as I try to avoid speculation about the future, I often wonder how she will perform in school. Or, more importantly, in every day living.

I’m fairly certain that she will communicate verbally, and that she will be a delightful adult, who is able to hold intelligent conversations. I’m not as certain about her ability to keep up with “normal” schoolwork, or be as responsible and independent as a typical adult.

Am I a terrible mother for admitting this? My heart wages a constant battle. On the one hand, I want to believe, like every other parent, that my daughter is the SMARTEST and PRETTIEST (which she is!) kid on the planet. On the other hand, I want to prepare myself for the possibility that the brain damage affected her intellectual abilities, and be okay with that.

I want to stop comparing. I’m so sick of the charts and the “what she SHOULD be doing” stats. I’ve long thrown out the physical milestone charts. I have come to a fairly peaceful place regarding Ellie’s physical disabilities, and (on most days) don’t have any sort of yard stick by which to compare. Ellie will physically develop in Ellie time. And I know that she may not develop some physical milestones at all.

Yet, if I throw out the “cognitive abilities” chart, am I not resigning myself to the fact that Ellie IS intellectually delayed? If we don’t compare her thought processes to those of a typical two-year-old, are we just saying, “We know she’s delayed in all areas, and we’ve accepted that”?

It’s so much easier for me to accept the fact that she may not walk independently. Wheelchair Schmeelchair. We’ll adapt. But, every fibre of my being wants my sweet girl to be smart.

I still hold out hope. Perhaps she’s slightly cognitively delayed RIGHT NOW, but will catch up by the time she’s in school. Oh, how I pray for that!

Oh, how I pray a LOT of things….


Sunny said...

You are not a bad parent at all. But do throw away the cognitive chart and mark down every amazing thing that Ellie does. Party with every milestone small or big. You just never know what God can do and will do in your little miracle. HUGS and love you!!!

Peitricia Mae said...

Thank you for being so brave - it requires a lot of courage to face this possibility.

Anne Lamott says that faith is like a lantern that shines a circle of light one step ahead of you. You don't get to know the final outcome, or even much more than the direction, but you are at least shown the next step.

I wonder if your parenting will be that (perhaps all parenting is?). You won't know Ellie's final outcome. But you will show her the next step, based solely on where she happens to be at that moment and not where other kids are.