Somewhere between giving my son his first and second cookie, I thought about the fact that I was raising a child.

Not to say I haven’t thought a lot about other aspects of parenting. 

I have spent endless hours contemplating loving a child, taking care of a child, and raising a child WITH a disability. 

I just realized that I had spent almost no time thinking about the kind of person I was raising him to be. 

I realized that I have been so consumed with the daily tasks of his care that I have taken almost no time to consider his growth and character as a human being.

It is easy to give my son, Danny, a pass on life lessons.

For one, he’s adorable. 

Although he has little verbal language, he uses his infectious smile and laughter to persuade you to do pretty much anything he wants. 

“Why stop at one cookie, mom? How about just one more?” says his grin and dimples. 

Also, he has been through so much. 

He has endured countless procedures, hospital visits, and therapies. 

On a daily basis, he perseveres through therapies, tube feedings, and eye patching. 

His life revolves around struggle. 

Physically, nothing comes easy to the child, and he has to work for every reach, step, and grasp. 

So it is very, very easy to hand this boy a second cookie.

However, what if it is better to say “no”?

What if the best thing I could do for my son is to make things a little harder?

Shortly after Danny’s diagnosis, my husband read a story from another mother. 

Her son also had cerebral palsy, and she described his first morning of school. He was nervous and eager, and a bit unstable with his crutches. 

As he got out the door to head to the bus, he fell. His bag and crutches went flying. 

She looked at him and said, “Get up! The bus is waiting for you!”

This story made me weep. 

The thought of my fragile, eager-to-please son sprawled on the pavement was almost too much to bear. 

But, the admiration I have for this mother is fierce. To love your child so much that you would set aside your natural instinct to rescue them from any measure of pain or hardship is almost heroic. 

It is easy to save; it is hard to watch them learn to save themselves.

I have repeatedly spoken about wanting the world to accept my son exactly as he is, and to treat him no differently than any other three year-old boy.

Regardless of his ability to communicate, sit up independently, or walk - I want my son, Danny, to belong to this world.  

If that means I have to learn to say no to a second cookie - I’m going to try.

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