Growing up, I had a very typical childhood.
It was probably better than that.
It was wonderful.
I was lucky enough to be born in a small town near my family’s farm, and before a time when mothers thought they were meant to hover over their children.
My brother, cousins, and I would set out for hours without adult supervision.
While this did result in the occasional mishap, it mostly resulted in a firm sense of independence and an insatiable curiosity about the world.
How in the world will my son experience anything resembling my childhood?
How will he develop independence and curiosity when he needs us for everything?
He cannot move across the room without aid.
Due to vision impairment, he likely cannot see across the yard, let alone be curious about what lies beyond.
Due to the extent of Danny’s physical disabilities, he cannot sit up, walk, or talk independently.
He is extremely social and particularly loves being with other children.
However, toddlers his age move pretty fast.
Before Danny can even fixate on one playmate, they dash off and are running to the next thing.
He loves the activity, but struggles to meaningfully interact with friends on his own.
This makes me a little sad, and so we have filled our lives to the brim with therapies, lessons, and activities.
He goes horseback riding.
He swims twice a week.
He goes to school four days per week.
We have done dance and music classes, we go to the library, plan play dates, and are starting adaptive karate.
But this does not replace normal childhood.
It does not replace riding your bike down the street with your friend, wandering through the park, and building forts with sticks and branches.
What we do are planned, adult-led experiences that leave little to a child’s imagination.
I have learned through the years to leave tomorrow’s problems to tomorrow, but this is one that seems to come around and around.
I long for him to come home with muddy pants and a gash on his chin.
Because then I would know he would be out in the world exploring and learning and creating.
While I don’t know to what extent total independence is possible for him, I will not let this dream go.
I will find a way for this boy to get lost.
Do you use a voice-activated speaker such as Amazon Echo or Google Home?