I really hesitate about posting this, but . . . .
I saw this news story about a family out for dinner with their son with epilepsy. Seems a stranger picked up their tab and wrote a note saying “God only gives special children to special people.”
As the parent of a “special” child I’m totally weirded out & massively angered by this stranger’s horrid idea of God & His gifts.
“God only gives special children to special people”? Do people actually believe developmental disabilities are some sort of divine gift? to the parents? to the child? What kind of God is it that would “bless” a child or a family in this way rather than giving the gift of health to the child? What kind of parent doesn’t wish a life of good health for their child?
I’m not “special” because of my daughter’s developmental disabilities. And I truly wish my child were “special” because of what she could do rather than what she can’t. I find no comfort in the repugnant idea that some all-powerful being gave here the “gift” of a brain that doesn’t work quite right, oddly-shaped fingers and an autoimmune disorder that leaves her far too often suffering from excrutiatingly painful GI bleeds.
The painful truth is that children and families must play the hand they’re dealt. Some are lucky. Some are not. And we all rise to play that hand to the best of our abilities, abilities that have themselves been dealt by the hand of History, genetic and otherwise. If “special” children were only given to “special” people, there would be no children with disabilities in foster care or waiting for adoption. The tragic truth is that “special” children — like all children — are born willy-nilly, whatever the abilities — the “specialness” — of the parents.
If a stranger had ever done to my family what was done to the family in that news story, I would have told them to keep their money and their evil god. And if it were possible, I’d have their evil god take back my daughter’s “special” gifts so that she could have an ordinary old, non-special life reading books, riding a bike and playing a cello. And without all the vomit, blood and shit.
It’s extremely common for parents to make comments, both serious and joking, about how difficult, challenging, aggravating and, yes, rewarding it is to have children kicking around. But if a parent of a special needs child takes issue with the idea that that child and her disability are a special gift of a god – a god who didn’t see fit to relieve the child’s pain – then that parent is labelled angry and guilt ridden and not “special”(see comments below). You know what? Parents have always complained about their kids. But parents have rarely been allowed to complain about their kids’ disabilities. No! A kid who wakes you up at 5 am on a Sunday morning is a pain in the ass, Hardee-har, but a GI bleed that keeps you up for weeks on end camped out at the hospital while your beautiful eight-year old who loves the Mole Sisters and just wants to go home is living off an IV and can’t eat or drink – FOR WEEKS – is a gift from some weird sadistic god because you’re “special”.
No. I’m not special. God hasn’t given a gift. If God wanted to give a gift, He would have done something far different for my daughter. Suggesting that her disabilities are a gift to her or to anyone else is an insult to her and to her strength and her bravery. If you can’t see that, I pray for your kids.