We have this strange idea that having a diagnosis makes a condition manageable. It’s as if the label confers upon the bearer some kind of shield against harm and misunderstanding.
Real life is different.
We know Goldilocks has ADD and Asperger’s Syndrome. That makes it no easier to manage or understand. It certainly gives me no secret, mystical insight into what she needs and how to give it to her. The fact that so much of what she faces every day is stunningly familiar, virtually an exact copy of what I experienced in those cases, in no way means that I know how to help her. I cannot divine what she needs or wants, and I certainly can’t reconcile the two.
With Red Riding Hood, I knew from early on that she didn’t prefer cuddles and stuff. Neither did I. Neither did Aunty Em. I thought that, armed with that knowledge, and being deeply sympathetic to her needs, like her sensitive hearing, I would be able to show her love and care and build her self esteem with ease and efficacy.
In short: I thought I’d be a perfect parent. No, wait: THE perfect parent.
For some reason, I thought I could. And I believed that I SHOULD.
First, I thought that having been there would give me all the tools I needed to be the model parent for a child like me. Not even close.
Second, I assumed that because I was SO invested in getting it right, so focused on UNDERSTANDING, unearthing, exploring, knowing and supporting, I couldn’t possibly do harm. In fact, that was my security blanket: I figured parents always harm their children BECAUSE they are not focused on getting it right. But I would be focused, so I would get it right.
So naive I was. So innocent. So very wrong.
This TED talk asks how it feels to be wrong, and it feels like being right, until you know.
Well, now I know.