Saturday, November 03, 2007

Oops! My brain just exploded.


Did you guys read Shannon's post yesterday? I mean. Dude. Do you love her forever right along with me?

I couldn't write myself, as I was attending a three day conference called Parents Encouraging Parents put on by the Colorado Department of Education. It is for parents and support people (teachers, various kinds of therapists, educational advocates, doctors) involved in raising children with disabilities and exceptional needs.

It was seriously and in all honesty one of the best things I have ever done for myself as a parent, ever. I learned so much, and I got to stay in a cushy hotel room in Breckenridge. I had a beer or two. And I felt so in tune with 100+ people in the same room with me and at the same time. That's saying a great deal for me.

My brain is processing. Unfortunately for you, dear readers, you will be getting numerous posts on this conference for the next few days. I'm going to chew this sucker over for a long time. So, I have to move to the meaningful but trite... They read this to open the conference, to a packed house of dewy eyes:

byEmily 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.


Mr Lady said...

I heart that.

Em said...

I look forward to hearing about the conference. I've used Welcome To Holland when I've done some parent trainings...and it always makes an impact!

Alison said...

Damn you and your tear-jerking posts!

Diane said...

Looking forward to hearing about your conference and Breckenridge even. One of my favorite places.

Do they have snow yet?

caty said...

What an awesome perspective. And i assume quite apt.

Leslie Dillinger said...

You are awesome.