Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy, Happy

I belong to an email list for parents of kids with hemiplegia (cerebral palsy). It has been a great source of information, hope and unfortunately at times despair. A couple of months ago they had a thread that garnered a lot of responses. The topic revolved around how many children with hemiplegia are good natured and happy. I’m not sure why but this topic and all the responses bothered me. Obviously it bothered me a lot since here I am two months later writing about it.

Basically what the parents were discussing was how they thought that their kids were happy and easy-going because of the nature of their brain injury. Many parents commented that their children were happy even when engaged in an activity which would make “other” kids unhappy. For example, one parent commented that they were worried about their child because they were so willing to do their homework again and again even though it was a subject that they had difficulties with.

So, what bothered me? I guess it was just the fact that so many of the parents seemed to be over analyzing their kids and seemed to be concerned about the fact that their children were happy because of their brain injury. I know that the effects of a brain injury can be wide ranging and as parents we should be aware of issues that our children might face. This one, however, did not occur to me. You see, Bennett is happy, he is good-natured and he’s easy going. Yes, he has his moments but overall he seems to be a very happy and easy child. He has been this way since he was a baby and many people have commented on it. Now I would like to think that this is due to the fact that it is his nature and that he is surrounded by people who are generally the same – and oh yeah – my spectacular parenting abilities! But maybe, it is due to the fact that his brain was injured in the “happy spot”.

In either case, this is not something I want to worry about or even think about. I want to enjoy it! I don’t care that Bennett wakes me up every morning with a smile, a giggle and a kiss because of a brain injury. The fact is that he does and I love it. I don’t care that he may work hard at school and fail yet smile at the same time.

I hope I haven’t come across as being too critical of those parents because that’s not what I want. The parents that post on that message board are incredible and amazing advocates and supporters of their children. I guess the whole thread just bothered me because I would like to attribute Bennett’s good nature to him and not to his brain injury. In the end though his brain injury is part of who he is and part of who he’ll become and I guess I just want to be happy because he’s happy regardless of the reason.


Popcorn House said...

Sammy is NOT EASY GOING AT ALL! But he didn't have a brain injury so I guess that doesn't count.

I agree though, just enjoy it. Our Elizabeth was always a happy baby, she is a happy kid and we don't even know when she has homework she just does complaints at all. We have a few others who this is not the case. Sammy included, each child is different.

I love that picture!!!

Dawn said...

I think you are right on. I was going to say that Bennett is easy going because he is the first born. Austin is a great kid and yes can be a super happy boy but can also be a demanding king crab. In fact I think his right side weakness causes him so much more frustration and I can't fault him for getting upset easily. I won't tell you how many times he has screamed at the TV when frustrated playing the Wii. But as with anything it could be worse, glad that Mr. Bennett is so pleasant all the time. I'm sure your days are coming and you'll be asking "who is this kid?"

Anonymous said...

No slight to the other mothers either, but I feel very comfortable telling you that Bennett's good nature is not 'due to the fact that his brain was injured in the “happy spot”.'

Your belief in his born-in nature combined with your parenting is about a scientific as it gets. (I have a page on my site titled Nature vs. Nurture - but you already 'get-it'. another Barbara

PS I saw many posts by parents of children with ds who did a meme-like-thing - 21 things about my child unrelated to ds. Thank you for standing up to the individuality of your child, who also has a diagnosis.

Anonymous said...

Hi Barbara,
you were a very happy and contented baby and child. You were very easy to look after and you were also a million laughs. You had your share of tantrums, a couple of which are memorable to this day!
In regards to Bennett's easy going personality, I believe that all the attention and cheering he gets from everyone whenever he does soemething new and wonderful has a lot to do with his personality and self confidence. (wouldn't you feel great if everyone applauded and cheered every time you did something good). I believe that he would have been an easy going baby, brain injury or not. It
doesn't really matter how he got his wonderful disposition. What matters is that he does and that he is the most wonderful grandchild in the world. (unbiased opinion from grandma).
Lots of love, hugs and kisses
Grandma and Grandpa

Bonnie said...

I agree with the other folks - Bennett is happy because he is loved +++, and has these great parents and grand parents. Who wouldn't be happy - right? What a blessing to enjoy. Not everything in life has a biological component - much of it can be attributed to the "nurture" vs the nature part of our being. You've nurtured gentleness, love, and peace in your own relationship and this has filtered through to Bennett - including when he was in the womb.

So . . . I thank God for the grace Bennett is in my life and in our family. Why wouldn't we be happy with this blessing in our lives called "Bennett"?

Auntie Bonnie

Ellen said...

This is SUCH a good post. Max actually is pretty happy and easygoing, but he has a stubborn streak and knows what he wants.
You just reminded me, back when Max was a baby, I commented to my father how much he liked to smile. My father, who is such a grinch sometime, said, "Well, that's probably because of the brain damage." THANKS, DAD!!!!!

I did a blog today with advice for parents of young kids with special needs, swing by.

* ~ *Jessica* ~ * said...

The pic of Bennett is ADORABLE! Love it.

Logen is also a happy, fairly laid back kiddo. Could it be b/c he is 1st born, I don't know. We know theres got to be something Neurological- but who's to say thats why he happy. Lets go with b/c he is so loved :) haha Then, there's Parker- who's not so laid back. And, he's loved just the same. I just shot out my own theory.