Welcome to Holland - An Essay

Discussion in 'Early Childhood Archives' started by Wildflower, Apr 17, 2004.

  1. Wildflower

    Wildflower Active Member

    I first came across this essay when Kris did a topic a couple of years ago on Grieving the Loss of the Dream Child/Family, which Fran has archived in the Primary Zone Archives. TransformTriumphant posted it. Since it is so "spot on" in describing how it feels to discover you have a special child - a gift from god - on your hands, I thought I'd post it again here. OTE has recently mentioned it in FightingForAaron's thread as well; so, it just seems in need of having a board revival!

  2. Fran

    Fran Former Site Owner

    It's a good one and needs to be reread from time to time.
    Thanks for reminding us that Holland isn't such a bad place.
  3. Fran

    Fran Former Site Owner

    This is the Essay.

    WELCOME TO HOLLAND
    By Emily Perl Kingsley
    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.
  4. Ann G

    Ann G New Member

    Good Morning and thank you for reminding me of the Holland/Italy essay. I am printing out a copy for my son. He's 26 and is having a hard time adjusting to being in Holland. We both always wanted to go to Italy.

    My son has decided to see a counselor to help him get over his own plans for Italy.

    Daycare has decided to raise their rates for Christian since he gets there earlier than most kids a couple days a week (12:50 p.m.) They're getting a facilitator to care for Christian and another very special kid. He kicked someone yesterday who had kicked him (but we all know who the blame is pinned on...no matter what). Next time is a day's suspension (like he really cares) and after that he'll be asked to leave. I guess he'll be asked to leave. At least school will be back in session Thursday.

    Have a good weekend everyone!

    ann
  5. Wildflower

    Wildflower Active Member

    Argh! My computer keeps hiccuping and the original post got all garbled - think I've fixed it. Sorry!
  6. FightingForAaren

    FightingForAaren New Member

    This was beautiful, thank you. I guess I'd better get my bags unpacked and settle in, instead of trying to book a flight out of here . . .
  7. transformtriumph

    transformtriumph New Member

    There is also an essay, written after this one called "Welcome to Beirut". It is another mother's take on our parenting situation, comparing it to a war zone in Beirut, rather than Holland. It's a bit different picture...
  8. Wildflower

    Wildflower Active Member

    Wow, thanks for posting the link to that Nomad. I was doing fine until I came across the line: "You will meet dirty faced angels in the playground who are nice to your child without being told to be ..." How true.

    My DH and I were talking the other day about an email essay he received that was about "living in the moment". I told him that I think one of the really odd benefits of having GFG is that he has completely forced, dragged, and otherwise browbeaten me into living in the moment. (I had hoped to achieve this place through peaceful meditation, yoga, and intellectual enlightenment ... but never mind, I'm here now! /importthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif ) Due to GFGs personality, I cannot plan into the future or daydream about what his life will be like because his road map is being made up as we go along. We simply cannot rely on A-Z Guide to guide us. We are reluctant explorers...

    In any case, I do agree with the Welcome to Beirut's author that having a GFG does make you present to the highs and lows in life because they are just soooo extreme. In an odd way, as parents of GFGs, we probably get more from our experience of having children than PPs do. Our rewards are that much sweeter.
  9. Fran

    Fran Former Site Owner

    Wildflower, I really agree with living in the moment. I know I have said this before but gfg forced me(kicking, screaming and terrified) out of the comfort of being average suburban mom. I would have been somewhat happy going to PTA meetings,volunteering and worrying about SAT's and what college's they should apply for after high school.

    The best I can compare it to is a near death experience. (emotional death) You then realize what is important, colors are brighter, you laugh more, love more. My experiences with gfg way back when were very much like that and I do appreciate and am darn grateful for every aspect of functioning I can see from gfg. I seldom am bothered about issues that bother my peers.
  10. transformtriumph

    transformtriumph New Member

    I think you have something there. I find that little things that bother and embarrass other parents don't bother me. Our kids help point out what is truly important and get us back to the basics of being a parent.
  11. OTE

    OTE New Member

    For some of us it feels like more than just the basics of being a parent. eg my grandfather, my father, then myself went to college each with the idea that the succeeding generation would be a little bit more prosperous than the last. I dreamed my children would be finding a cure for cancer or something equivalent. Well, Ok, the economy isn't what it was, the economic std of living isn't what it was. But still, the point is that my kids aren't likely to go to college much less on an academic scholarship. I've accepted that.

    My kids may spend their lives working for minimum wage. I need to teach them how to survive in a different way than I was taught. eg I was taught that success is based on reading more, working more hours, writing better reports, etc. That success is "getting ahead"- getting promotions, power and raises. That it will all come to you if you just work harder. For my kids that isn't likely to be true. For my kids it may be working more hours but it may really be finding the right social services. Their success may depend on the right supported employment, subsidized housing, subsidized medical care. Their success and lifestyle may be better served by patiently sitting on lines, listening carefully to what's said and unsaid by SWs, finding advocates, etc.

    Having been unemployed a long time now and applying for many of these kinds of services I can see that it requires very different skills. I don't need to nurture long term relationships with bosses and co-workers, I only need to smile and act subservient to the person who has my piece of paper today. I need to motivate a different person every day to move along my piece of paper. Often people who don't want to talk to me or who barely see me as human.