Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Welcome To Holland

If you have a child with a learning disability, or work in that field, you will understand and appreciate this. I don't think one can fully understand until you see the struggle that families go through in these types of situations. Having worked with autistic children for over 3 years now, this touched my heart the first time I read it.



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.


Anonymous said...

I, too, appreciate the analogy. I have great admiration for those parents who faced their challenge and proved their love.

I commend you for your work with autistic children. Your heart, though already a big one, no doubt, has become even larger and more sensitive.

Jennifer Connell said...

Thank you for your kind words!

Ms. J said...

Jen, thank you for reminding us all what it's like... and reminding me to stop and smell the tulips, even if my wooden shoes are giving me splinters because my feet are used to Italian leather :)

Jennifer Connell said...

You're welcome, Ms. J! Thanks for stopping by.

jen lord said...

Twin, I've read this before and I love it!