My kids both have unique challenges that are somewhat invisible — you need to get to know us pretty well before you get the full gist. Or you may connect the dots when you realize how often I’m preoccupied with my children’s doctor and specialist appointments and therapies.
A few times, people have pointed out straight to my face, as if it was a shocking revelation: Both of your kids have special needs?!
I’m usually rendered speechless and inching for the door. My pulse quickens and a wave of defensiveness roils within.
How in the world am I supposed to respond to that?
Spoiler alert, I actually do know my kids have special needs. In fact, I could probably give a two-day lecture on each of their diagnosis. Ask any parent whose child has challenges, and they could probably do the same.
But just for fun, I came up with some snarky comebacks to throw back in the faces of those who feel the need to point out my kids’ issues. I normally just swallow them back down, but one I actually did say out loud. (Can you guess which one?)
— They do? Oh my god! Are you sure?
— Wanna talk IEPs? I’m kind of an expert.
— Oh, we just make ‘em special in my family!
— My husband and I are thinking of having another kid, you know, so we can see how messed up that one turns out.
— You mean your child is plain-old normal? (Frown and nod, condescendingly.)
— For a small fee, I could give you an excellent health-insurance tutorial.
While it might feel witty and completely justified to answer insensitivity with snark, it really doesn’t help. That time I let one of those fly from my mouth, I only felt rude and a bit mean afterward.
Perhaps just a curt nod is the way to go. Let the awkward silence fill the room.
Or, even better yet, how about the truth?
“Yes, my kids are amazing. I’m so lucky to be their mom.”
This author is publishing anonymously