“Judge not, and ye shall not be judged.” 2 Rachel, 27:12. OK, it’s not really from the book of Rachel, that’s just an inside joke from our Circle Bible Study. The verse actually comes from Matthew 7:1, and as a former gossip girl and judger of many, I have often pretended this verse didn’t apply to me. As I grew up and faced more trials, I learned that my rational actions and decisions probably looked crazy to most people: i.e. crying in airports when I was taking infertility drugs. I now understand that God wants us to leave the judging to him because we cannot possible know enough about other people’s lives to accurately judge them.
I say all of this because I am constantly being judged by strangers. Preschoolers draw attention. It is just a way of life for this time in their lives, and my son Alex seems to draw a lot of attention. Everywhere we go, people know who Alex is because he either strikes up a conversation with any given stranger, or they hear me yell his name as I run after him. Alex lives life to the fullest, and pushes the limits whenever possible. Strangers often see Alex as a child whose parent doesn’t make him mind, but that isn’t reality. I know more about him than anyone else, and most of what I know is kept secret.
Denial is the second stage of grieving, and I have been in this stage for over a year now. Last May, we took Alex to a specialist in Chicago because we had some concerns about a few developmental delays. The short story is this: Alex has some adoption-related special needs. They gave us two diagnoses. One I agree with, and one I wish wasn’t true. They are experts in this field of study, so I am sure they are right, but I like to pretend they aren’t.
I was actually hoping they would tell me he had ADD, which they didn’t. I just wanted someone to tell me that Alex has way more energy than any other child ever. The one diagnosis everyone agrees on is this: Alex has SPD, sensory processing disorder. He is a sensory seeking child, who loves to touch everything and always needs to be moving. He loves running and is in heaven if someone is chasing him. If he doesn’t have anything to do, he will chew on anything close. If nothing is close, he will chew on his fingers. Since I didn’t agree with their other diagnosis, I took Alex to another specialist last winter. She said that Alex does have ADD, but she wouldn’t formally diagnosis that until he is 5 or 6. Our family doctor still believes that there is another diagnosis out there, maybe something on the autism spectrum. I think he is probably right.
In two weeks, Alex will have a screening for preschool. I am going to have to share this with them, and I dread it. I am afraid of two things: What if they say there is nothing wrong with him (and all of the unmentioned challenges we face every day are typical, and it’s all in my head)? OR What if they say he does have special needs (they probably will, but I am still in denial!)? I live with a strange dichotomy: I don’t want Alex to have any letters explaining his behavior, but I don’t want to believe his behaviors are typical.
Here is another paradox. I believe people are judging me based on how my child behaves, but if they knew what I knew, they probably wouldn’t judge him. I don’t want anyone to know about his special needs, but they need to know so they can better understand him. I just think he is so great, and I don’t want anyone to see anything less than I see – a terrifically wonderful “perfect for me” kid.