Monday, July 23, 2012

The hardest thing about being a kid-#NaBloPoMo

Early this past spring, I received an e-mail from our younger son less than an hour after dropping him off at school. It was short and to the point.

"HELP!" he cried out to me in his message.

My heart lurched. This child was going through a difficult time fighting through intense social and academic anxiety at school. Soon, he would become school phobic altogether.

Our son's school was allowing him to use his iPad during the day as a means of luring him back into the building, and my husband and I had decided to establish an e-mail account on it so that he didn't feel so trapped and unsafe.

Until that point, his feelings about being in school included, "cold", "scared" and "alone". While educators admitted a need for some method of personal contact between our son and home, I must say that the e-mail account wasn't popular.

"You son is perfectly safe," an administrator told us.

In the traditional sense, I suppose that was true. The adults in the building were perfectly nice people. He had food if he needed it. Water fountains were there to quench his thirst. I had no concerns about his physical well-being. However, his mental well-being, I just wasn't sure.

"HELP!" was the message he sent to me.

With one word, he said so much. I wondered who would be willing to listen. And, as we worked our way through the sticky situation that became his school placement in those months to follow, I considered myself lucky that he at least had the ability to type his feelings to me.

If listening to a child who could type his feelings in plain sight had become too difficult for those of us guiding his program, what would a person do if that child was non-verbal? How does one listen to a child who has no words?

When I first started caring for our older, nonverbal son, I had no tool but my heart. I didn't know what else to use. Often, my skills were not very good, and I wasn't able to guess his needs. But, my love for him kept me trying, and in trying, I learned new skills.

I learned that it's just as easy to listen with your eyes, and that a touch can hear intent just as well as an ear hears words. It's really not so hard, you just have to be open to it.

Today, NaBloPoMo asked us what the hardest part about being a kid is. I think the sad truth is that our kids voices are not being heard. Why? Is life too fast? Do opinions take too long? Are they too silly?

I don't know.

"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." - Winston Churchill

In our house, listening isn't really a choice. It's a necessity. It guides us through bouts of pain from a nonverbal child and leads us to a lost favorite toy in the dark of night. It helps us to understand why a child has gone mute in his educational environment or goes into an unexpected sensory meltdown.

It's a tool for survival. Thank goodness our children are skilled and patient teachers.

NaBloPoMo July Challenge 2012. I'm not counting down the days. I'm not counting down the days. I'm not counting down the days...

This quote and more can be found at

Quotes About Healthy Living


  1. What a lovely post. I agree with you. I think the hardest thing about being a kid is being understood and heard.


  2. What a heartwarming and reminding post this is! All children want to be heard. They want to know that even if they can't have what they want, someone heard them ask. A reason is given when the answer is not the one they wanted. Hopefully they even understand, but in any case, they got to be heard and they need the respect of a response. I agree being heard isn't always the words, it's often NOT words at all. A little intuition is often required.
    Excellently done, as always. ♥

  3. Wow Amy - "I had no tool but my heart" - that speaks volumes!Children's voices (both verbal and nonverbal) go unheard so often and I ache for the tiems I think I missed what my son (completely verbal) was saying to me. However, like you, I just went with my heart. As an only child, he got the role of beng my learning experience. Go with the joy that your sons did (and still do) reach out to you. It shows how safe they feel and how much they trust you.