Little Person has an atypical development. She’s a big fan of numbers, and maps, and dinosaurs. She interprets language very literally, doesn’t really talk much, and a few other anomalous things. The point is, I have watched this unfold, becoming more and more aware of the problems and potential problems, and I have got myself twisted in knots. But over the weeks, and months the knots have untwisted, as Little Person has taught me a beautiful lesson about acceptance.
Acceptance can be messy. We like to think that acceptance and love go hand in hand, but they don’t. Accepting that Little Person had developmental differences that made it difficult for her to fit in at school was not easy. I did not love her any less, but for a long time, I wanted to pretend that what was right in front of my eyes did not exist. I wanted to pretend that if I spoke firmly enough, found the right discipline technique, used the right words in just the right ways, she would be able to understand things, and do things, and be like all the other children. All I managed to achieve was spiralling anxiety – for her and for me.
Acceptance means acknowledging that things are not as you wish that they would be. If it were all perfect and brilliant and just as you wanted it, there would be nothing to accept. It means acknowledging the truth of the situation that you face. And then deciding what, if anything, you will do about it. This meant checking Little Person’s hearing, taking her to speech and language therapy, meetings with teachers and appointments with doctors. This means there may well be more of all these things in Little Person’s future, but she is in that grey area where they are not quite sure what we are dealing with.
But Little Person is more than just her atypical development. She is all her smiles, and achievements, and potential too. Accepting that she is somehow different means accepting that some other things need to change. Because this is the reality. Be it person, or object, when you know something is different, you don’t treat it the same as everything else. You consider how that difference impacts on its function, and the way that it interacts with its environment. You don’t put your really nice non-stick pot in the dishwasher. You don’t make banana bread out of plums. You don’t expect a Little Person to express herself verbally, but then you discover she uses paints and crayons to tell her story.
Ever since I took Little Person for her assessment and they agreed that yes, she has some sort of atypical development issue, things have been going better. Little Person hasn’t changed. She’s still the same intelligent, observant and playful child she always was. I’m the one that’s changed. I have stopped trying to make her into something she’s not, and instead have the privilege of witnessing who she is trying to become.
It’s the power of acceptance.