My oldest son told me today he feels sad when we go see his Doctor because he doesn’t understand what she’s saying.
Dr. T is an Ayurvedic chiropractor who has helped Francis overcome physical symptoms triggering developmental delays. It’s been about 10 months of treatment and we’ve seen a world of difference in his behaviors. This is a child who could not sit to do homework without melting down, could not process the workload of a school day, struggled in math, reading and writing, and displayed trauma in endless areas of stunted brain and body growth. (This part of the story is important, but I’ll leave to blog on for another day)
He loves Dr. T, and truly believes her medicine heals him. But as we spend the evening transitioning to her appointment (on the following day) he confesses to me she makes him upset.
“What’s wrong? Do you still like seeing Dr. T?”
“I want to know what she’s doing and why she’s doing it…” He said, “Mommy…. she uses big words. I don’t understand her, and I don’t like it. It makes me feel confused. She won’t talk to me, she only talks to you.”
I was completely blown away, my thoughts drift to the times I’ve talked about him ‘in front of him’, and permitted a tinge of guilt.
“Francis, Dr. T’s medicines make you feel better. It has changed your life in so many ways.” Together we listed all the measurable changes, from homework to school, to becoming a better soccer player, “This change is good for you, but it’s not okay to feel like you don’t have a say in what’s happening. You can always ask her to use words you understand. It’s your body, you have every right to tell her what is and is not okay.”
It seems Francis is the pink elephant at Doctors appointments. Everyone is talking about how to turn the elephant blue but no one is asking for the elephant’s input.
I told him how proud I was because I am. At 8 years old, he has more insight than most adults do. I remind him of how special he is, and how happy I am that he has the courage to tell me these things.
It’s been several weeks since this incident, fast forward in time a bit. His father and I are sitting in on parent-teacher conference. His teacher states how Francis is excelling in reading/ literacy and ‘WE’ could transition from pull- out reading and integrate him into the mainstream classroom. She asked if this was okay with me…. and I instantly I was thrown into the conversation we had about Dr. T and the medicines.
I was quiet for some time how often do children not get a say in their own lives? Of course, I’m over the moon at the obvious display of the growth in my son, but this moment is beyond academics. This is his school day, it’s his life, I felt completely inappropriate making that call, “Did you ask him? It’s his schedule, this could deeply impact his whole life. He’s very sensitive to his routine. I would prefer you ask him for his input, I don’t know that I feel comfortable making a decision like that for him.”
My husband firmly nodded along and I was grateful for his energetic support. His teacher looked surprised but said she resonated with the idea. An enormous wave of relief washed over me. Another win for sweet Francis.
Mrs. M (his 2nd grade teacher), did talk to him one to one. He, on his OWN, asked if he could go to pull out literacy class 2 days a week, and in his classroom for the other 3.
She was happy to accommodate his terms and committed to the arrangement. I was so overwhelmingly excited, as a parent, that my child had the opportunity to establish input in HIS routine, and marveled at how he came to such a mature and productive decision all on his own.
I never want to make decisions for my kids they could make for themselves, or talk about them like they’re not even there. They deserve so much more. Their age shouldn’t be a deterrent from making real life decisions, after all, it’s THEIR life, not mine. I believe moms are the guides who can identify a variety of possible outcomes, but in the end, the decisions are theirs to make.
I still can’t get over what a courageous little guy he is.
I’m so grateful to see his reality this way. It reminds me of how important it is we do not talk “around” them. They are listening, watching, and completely self- aware.
I’m so blessed to have a child like Francis, he takes the lead in his own life, he teaches me every day how to be a better parent, and a better person. He reminds me, he is the future, and his input is crucial to his emotional, physical and spiritual well- being.