Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Different Normal

The issue of the Tooth Fairy in my home VS the home of a "typical" child is so different I figured it was worthy of a blog post. Anyone read that super annoying poem that they pass out to newly diagnosed families about wanting to go to Italy but ending up in Holland? You know the one, it's supposed to make you feel better-- you wanted to go to Italy but Holland's not so bad, right? Its just different. Just in case, I'll find it and post it. I'm sure it brings comfort to some, me? Notsomuch.  

I grew up in a "typical" house, you lose a tooth, you put it under the pillow and WOW! Someone (the Tooth Fairy) leaves you money! For us it was 2-4 quarters, the tooth forever MIA. I started to notice that my normal was going to be different when Cameron lost his first tooth. The idea of money held absolutely no sway with him at all. He didn't understand the concept of giving a clerk paper and coins in exchange for a toy or book. Therefore we took out the middle man and the "tooth fairy" hit a clearance sale and stocked up on Leapster games for $7-10. Now that we are starting round 2 of the tooth game with Cam (molars-YIKES!) the "tooth fairy" is going to have to get clever fast! Especially since his tastes now fall to expensive DS games & musical instruments. I'm thinking the "tooth fairy" will become a big time book pusher soon.

For Adam, same issue with a twist. When he lost his first tooth he was terrified! Not because he lost his tooth but because he was terrified of a fairy entering his room at night. This took hours to determine and resulted in a new method of tooth/toy transfer. I emailed the "tooth fairy" to notify her that Adam would prefer to leave his tooth at his seat at the table, Adam wrote the "tooth fairy" a note explaining his fear and thanking her for leaving his reward at the table (a cherished mommy momento). That is where we are today. Last night's lost tooth resulted in a fabulous Chewbacca figurine from the Kenner classic Star Wars line and Adam couldn't be happier. Well, he probably could be happer if he wasn't a sickie pants with a strange fever/headache/sore throat/general ickiness. I know you want a pic of my toothless wonder (with the sickie eyes and everything), so here you go....

And now for a funny story from my Lunatic Autism Mom vault! Some years ago I attended a Defeat Autism Now! conference in New Jersey. This took me away from the boys for 2 days and 2 nights, in that time Cameron lost a tooth! I got a call from Rob saying, "uh, Cameron lost a tooth but we have a problem." I explained the procedure, where the stash was hidden and wondered why this was an issue since he was there the last time we had a lost tooth. He continued, "thats the problem, I don't have the tooth and Cam is freaking out that the tooth fairy won't visit." I'm like, what happened to the tooth? Did you lose it? Find it! Nah....that would be too easy for our family, you see, Cameron ate his tooth. Yep, you read that right. Apparently, the tooth came out, Rob sat it on a tissue to dry and Cameron decided that was wrong. Teeth belong in your mouth, right? So back into his mouth it went and down his throat. Then Rob, not knowing where it went said, "we better find it so the tooth fairy can visit". Insert freak out here.  There is some debate as to who's idea it was to find an old tooth to show Cam and say, "here! I found it!" I like to think my cleverness came up with that, Rob likes to think it was his but either way a replacement tooth was located. For a little while at least. You see, Cameron saw this new tooth and thought (you guessed it!) teeth belong in your mouth, not on the table! And ate the second tooth. Complete gross out factor aside, yet ANOTHER tooth was brought out to a completely freaked Cameron with strict instructions to NOT EAT THIS TOOTH, it was wrapped in tissue and bagged in a ziplok and kept within Rob's sight for the rest of the day. He made it through the exchange and knew forever that even something as simple as a "tooth fairy" visit would never be as simple as we had planned. I guess in Holland things are done differently. And now a poem....(I promised, didn't I?)



Emily Perl Kingsley.

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

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