Sunday, February 6, 2011


i knew the moment he was conceived and a short while later, he told me his name.

i asked him not to come until he was ready -- the trauma of his sister's early arrival still hanging over my heart -- and he ventured forth on exactly his due date.

i wrote him a letter a few days after he was born, as i'd done for his sister before him, and in it i named him my 'child of peace'.

as an infant, where his sister had screamed bloody murder for the first five months and torn my soul into tatters, he smiled a lot and loved to be cuddled.

he was exactly what i needed to heal my heart; to show me that perhaps i wasn't such a failure after all.

when he turned a year, he didn't delight in the party we gave him the way most yearlings do -- basking in the adoration of his family and friends who all waited expectantly for that Kodak moment of cake-smearing and a first taste of ice-cream.

instead he screamed until i swooped him away to a quiet place -- just he and i and the silence.

after that, any attempt at going out was near impossible.  at the grocery store he'd scream if anyone looked at him...when he got bigger and was walking, he'd lie down in the aisle and cry until i picked him up and took him out.

eventually, we rearranged things so he wouldn't have to go out in public.

naturally, everyone thought there was something *wrong* with him.

  "he must be autistic, you should have him tested"

i ignored them, but secretly researched autism in the dark of the night when everyone slept. in the depths of my mama's heart - that place where you really Know -  i knew there was nothing wrong with this magical boy who loved so fiercely and whose eyes crackled with sparks of joy every time he smiled.

when he was 19 months old and not talking i did have him assessed -- only to be sure there was no physical reason for him not doing the usual babbling and chattering.  all that was fine, but the speech pathologist insisted he needed 'intervention' and put him on a waiting list.  they finally called when he was three but we had never needed it.  she told me how to direct his play and encourage him to make noises with his trains and animals. i knew that would never fly, he was always very intense -- yes, he lined them up in fine autist fashion -- obsessing over making sure they were just-so -- there was no way he'd allow me to join in uninvited and i certainly couldn't be the one driving the bus! so i nodded and smiled and thanked her...and took my perfect child home. we never had trouble communicating...if he wanted a sandwich, he'd bring us a loaf of bread and the jar of peanut butter.  we learned how to communicate without speech.

from about 10 months of age onwards, his sleep patterns were governed by the phases of the moon. he is restless and wakeful prior to both the New and the's easier now because he's old enough to entertain himself while one of us dozes -- he falls asleep when he's ready.  trying to regiment that has never been successful -- forcing an early 'bedtime' means he's awake at 3am and raring to go.  eventually, he taught us to honour his cycle.

he's 6 now. he's not a typical 6 year old boy and going places and doing certain things still involves a degree of challenge. he doesn't always transition well and immerses himself deeply and intensely in activities -- he sucks the marrow dry before he moves onto the next thing -- apparently 6 year old boys aren't supposed to to that -- so typical 'groups' and activities don't fit our style. we can't take part in structured activities -- but really, who's to say that's the only way, anyway? he opened the door to unschooling -- and we gladly walked through it.

i still find myself at odds with Common Belief -- that he should have had speech therapy; that he should be forced to do this, that and the other; that he should be expected to behave in a certain way in certain situations. and in the moments that i wonder if maybe everyone else is right and i'm the one who's wrong -- for  stubbornly defending this child's right to be his own person -- i remember everything he's taught me; i remember how he has challenged everything i  thought i knew about parenting and the world; how i've had to stretch further and harder to meet his needs -- all of which he has the Divine right to have taken care the simple truth that he Is. and when i remember these things i remember that he's perfect.

every child is born Perfect

it is not our job as parents and adults to mold these children into our own ideal of what they should be. if you look around -- even in the so-called Positive Parenting movement, the subtle signs of manipulation are there. well-meaning, i've no doubt -- but designed to funnel development along a prescribed route. most of us may have unknowingly done that -- i was doing it with Savannah until her brother showed me that it could be different.

that it could be so much different. and that we'd be all the better for his gifts.

i have a hard time, still, sharing my boy-child -- he defies definition...describing a day with him would be beyond difficult. but i've realized recently, that my decision not to share him is based in fear. i feel tremendously protective of him...and fiercely defend him and his right to be himself....and i'm afraid -- afraid that he will be judged, that he will be seen as somehow Less....simply because he drums his own rhythm. 

and sometimes i'm afraid that i've got it all wrong and that i've failed him in my own stubbornness and blind love.

and so, again, it comes down to a matter of faith. and trust. and  the ferocious love i have for my boy -- and a belief that, as he has always done, he will show me the way and somehow, some way, i will simply Know.

and this....i first saw via the lovely Stephanie...and it made me cry -- sweet happy tears -- and now you know why...


  1. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

    And that video makes me cry every time. (Yeah, had to watch it again.)

  2. I haven't seen the film yet, I will when things are quiet here. But I had to comment ...

    Look at that photo. The serene happiness on that beautiful face. The winged feeling, as if he is not tacked down and ruled around, but is living closer to life than most of us do. The connection in his eyes.

    You are so doing right by him.

    The past decade, I have watched how the world treats children, and how they end up labelling them. I can't find words strong enough for the experience of it - except to say perhaps that it has been traumatic. Why are we so uncaring towards children?

    They are told to not speak when they have an opinion, to not argue when they see something wrong, to not go here or there, to not have particular preferences if the adults don't approve, to speak and stand and feel and think in a certain way.

    They must convey feelings and anxieties, at 2 or 3 years old, with a maturity they are physically incapable of.

    They must accept setbacks, disappointments, hurts, sorrows, unkindness, and injustice quietly, without complaint.

    And if they don't do any of this, they are labelled with a psychiatric disorder.

    And what about if they have a passion for wolves, or aeroplanes, and they want to spend all their days searching the forest floor for treasures, or writing wild wistful novels? Their parents are terrorised with the possibility that their children will never get a job (which is the most important thing in the world) without spending years in boxes, putting their thoughts in boxes - even if they aren't in public school!

    You are an inspiration. Thank you for it.

  3. Sarah - thank you...most beautiful one, for putting into words what my heart seethes are so right - he is an untethered spirit and i would never have him be otherwise...

    Stephanie -- yes, i can't help watching it over again either -- it makes me

  4. Ah Hun. *hug* I understand the sentiment of what you write but I can not truly understand, because I am not a Mother, let a Mother who has made the courageous choices you have made.

    But... what would happen to him in school? Chances are he would not be happy. Being different in school is never an easy thing, being gentle in school is never an easy thing.

    Whether he agrees or disagrees in later life, that is up to him. What he will always know is that every choice you made for him was made with love and care and a great deal of thought.... He walks his path.

  5. I don't want you to take this statement the wrong way, I only want to offer it up for your thoughts.

    Adolf Hitler was born perfect?
    Charles Manson was born perfect?

    I'm not pointing these individuals out because I believe your son is headed in that direction. I'm merely trying to demonstrate that there are individuals that would have benefited from psychiatric care and not turned into such horrid monsters.

    And I also find it very interesting that the video you've posted here has painted psychiatric diagnosis as a label. What if one of those children were diabetic. They would be a diabetic? How about asthmatic?
    One of the things they taught me when I studied psychology is that a diagnosis is not a label...

    Just some thoughts...

  6. Yes, Adolf Hitler was born perfect. If you look at a rose, it will not have exactly ideal petals, unless it is hyperbred and carefully managed in a hothouse. But it is perfect. Adolf might have had flaws in his brain (or he might have suffered in ways we will never know throughout his childhood - and it doesn't have to be overt abuse to make a child suffer, so many little ones can't cope with the rough and tumble of the playground, or the normal transitions of the day.) Charles Manson most likely had flaws.

    But imagine if someone had listened to those children, acknowledged their flaws and their suffering, said that they were indeed perfect but needed different things from the social norm (which imposes an artificial standard of perfection) ... I seriously doubt they would have grown up to be monsters.

    They didn't need psychiatric drugs or treatment. They just needed someone paying attention to what was really going on with them. (And someone saying NO to Hitler - remember, he couldn't have done anything he did without the support of hundreds, thousands, of people.)

    And diabetes is very very different from ADHD. For one thing it is a medical condition which can be tested for, not just observed.

    I studied psychology too. And they will tell you a diagnosis is not a label. But in practice you think of "Jenny, coming in for an appt at 2pm, she's the lady with bipolar issues."

  7. Thank you, Kevin, for taking the time to read (and watch) and to share your thoughts. I ask your forgiveness now, in advance, if i go all mother-grizzly on your ass...;)

    The examples you give were grown men when they committed their infamous crimes -- i have no doubt that they were indeed born perfect. I certainly don't dismiss genuine brain pathology that contributes to personality disorders and psychosis...but i also don't know the circumstances of their childhoods and what was done/said/expected of them. They may very well have suffered a combination of both...i don't know enough to comment. My argument is with the of treatment of children.

    I object strongly and without apology to the psychiatric labeling of our children -- in these cases, diagnosis IS a label. {Of course they taught you's what they're supposed to tell you and what they want you to believe. Perhaps in the Ivory Tower of academia, diagnosis isn't a label, but in a child's life, it most certainly is}

    Diabetes and asthma are irrefutable medical conditions and are therefore not in the same category at all. Psychiatric labels are convenient weapons in compartmentalizing children -- they are a tool to create an artificial 'norm' that disallows differences. They are an insidious form of cruelty.

    And yes, i do discern the difference between genuine psychological conditions and those bandied around for our convenience - even in adults. Because certainly it's much easier to toss Mrs.Smith a pill than learn why she's sad all of the time. It costs hundreds of millions of dollars to have a drug approved by the costs much be recouped somehow.

  8. LOL Sarah...we simul-posted...;)

    thank you again...

  9. What a beautiful post Mel, and what a beautiful soulful son you have, you only have to look at him to know all is well. I too have a huge issue with labelling children, its all too easily done, and most often for the convenience of the adults who care for them. I have always had a horror of any of my children being labelled and am lucky that in unschooling so far we have avoided this. I used to be a nurse a long time ago, but in a training placement in pychiatrics I encountered the very thing you talk about. The ease of giving pills to people to keep them quiet (and to make money) as opposed to actually talking and finding out the real troubles. In voicing my concerns over this, I ended my career in nursing. I now have a deep mistrust of so called health professionals, and always will have.
    Lots of love and light to you and your lovely family, Liz

  10. wow. i loved your post. and i didn't expect the video to make me cry, but it did. when the first label was ripped off, i burst into tears. thanks for sharing this. both your story and the video.

  11. I came over here via Sarah of knitting the wind...all I can say is you are a wonderful mother. Keep doing what you are doing...'they' are all wrong. Love is what we all need...real, true, geniune love one another...keep loving your children and let them 'be'. How you are mothering is so valuable and like treasure. Your children are treasures and you understand that. BTW I like what your profile says about you. :)

  12. Thank you for sharing your courageous powerful poetic words. Your son is truly blessed to have such a wonderful mother-grizzly watching out for him and you are truly blessed to have such a fine and wonderful boy-child for a son.


  13. I'll start by addressing Sarah and then reply to you Mel...
    First I'd like to point out that your opening paragraph is highly contradictory. You begin by expressing how every flower is perfect and end with:
    -Charles Manson most likely had flaws.-(Sarah)

    You also support my proposed stance with your statement of: many little ones can't cope with the rough and tumble of the playground, or the normal transitions of the day.- (Sarah)
    If a child is having issues coping we seek help for that child. That help is more than likely found in psychological treatment. These adversities are often addressed within the field of psychology and not within the scope of medicating the child and psychiatric care.
    I would also like to point out that a majority of the psychological diagnosis utilized in the film are handled primarily through an understanding of the condition and learning how to be empowered with it. Too often we take our child to the primary care doctor who is quick to diagnose a psychological disorder and then attempt to treat it with medications. These primary care doctors are not specialists, nor trained psychiatrists, and this is where the issue you all are discussing comes into play.
    ADHD and autism, when approached from a psychologist's perspective are first dealt with by attempting to educate, not by medicating.
    And this comment;
    -But in practice you think of "Jenny, coming in for an appt at 2pm, she's the lady with bipolar issues."- (Sarah)
    Also proves my stance worthy of it's two legs. we say she's the lady with the bipolar disorder, not here comes the bipolar lady. You have inadvertently provided an example that demonstrates how individuals can have a diagnosis and not be labeled by it.

    -I object strongly and without apology to the psychiatric labeling of our children -- in these cases, diagnosis IS a label. {Of course they taught you's what they're supposed to tell you and what they want you to believe. Perhaps in the Ivory Tower of academia, diagnosis isn't a label, but in a child's life, it most certainly is}- (Mel)
    I love this comment. "diagnosis IS a label." I would question you Mel, as to what other things in life are so powerful as this, and what gives it it's power? I would postulate that it is the parent that gives it this power, and not the child. I've met many diagnosed children who are living fantastic lives, as unique individuals, that wouldn't be able to do as such because of their disorder if it had gone untreated.
    During a class I sat and watched one of my instructor's patients go through treatment (the sessions came at different intervals, and not all sessions where shown). When the patient started the treatment, a 5 year old girl, she was so withdrawn that she spent entire days sitting in the back corner of her classroom rocking and crying. When she was approached she became so hostile that they would have to call the parents to withdraw the child. Things got so bad that the parents were asked to withdraw the child from school. After six months of treatment she was able to attend classes, and socialize appropriately with her classmates. The six months of treatment where psychological in nature and did not require medication. The parents were also given multiple sessions of therapy and education to learn how to work with their child to help them be successful in today's society. The little girl was afforded the opportunity to join a different class so she wouldn't be made fun of for her previous experiences, and, while she has a diagnosis, she is not counted as different or odd compared to the other children.

  14. You see, in most circumstances when a child's parents fear they're being labeled as something, they rage against it. Often times the parent or the child are responsible for determining this labeling, not the psychologist or psychiatrist. I would wager that it's a majority of the situations now that I really think about it. You see, no one else knows the diagnosis except the parent, and, if the child is old enough, the child. So how is it that the diagnosis turns into a label for society? It does so through the actions of the parent and the child. When the child begins a new class the parent tells the teacher their child has disorder X and diagnosis Y. In an attempt to separate themselves as a unique individual the child tells his or her classmates about the disorder (or in an attempt to draw attention) The people in these families lives find out what the diagnosis is and turn it into a label.
    To close, I have some questions...
    If your child does have a disorder, wouldn't it be nice to have an education on how to handle different situations to help your child become part of society? Did you know that mild autism is rarely treated with medication now, and often approached with education and sessions within a group setting or individual setting? At what point will your child learn to be a part of society if not in his early years?

  15. KM I have a feeling that discussing this issue with you is going to prove pointless, so I won't bother. I also feel there would be no value in it. There are answers I could give you, both as a professional and a mother, but I'm not going to sink into an argument, especially not in someone else's combox, someone I respect and care about. Have a nice day.

  16. thank you Sarah -- i've sat with this for the morning and wasn't entirely sure how to respond. in the end, i have decided to simply let it go.

    thank you, Kevin, dearly for your challenges - they have provided me with an opportunity to grow and to reflect on my beliefs. while it is clear that we do not view children in the same light, i have no doubt of your desire for only the best possible outcomes -- howsoever that is defined in your view.

    i wish you peace.

  17. you are a fierce momma!!
    what you've shared makes perfect sense, you've shared things beautifully!!!
    isn't that what we all want for our children?? why are we so hard on ourselves? on them? i've had to re-imagine my parenting-style.
    we all need the grace to be whatever our children need. without judgement.
    be strong. i know you will KNOW just when you need to.


  18. OMGoodness!!!!!!!
    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the youtube vid!!!
    sweet, happy tears!

    Can we all just agree to do this???!!!

  19. I wasn't arguing. I was simply trying to b part of a conversation. I'm sorry you feel the way you do sarah.
    Mel, you are most welcome. I know that when I share thoughts with you, even when we disagree and energetic about a topic that we do so with respect. Perhaps in the near future you and I could do a collaborative post regarding our views on children. I think it would be fun, and give you a chance to share with some of my readers.

  20. Kevin - i would be honoured to take part in such a venture...thank you for asking. and yes, always with compassion and respect.


  21. This is a gorgeously written piece, mel. I love what you write about allowing children to show us the way ... and I'm trying to do that myself since I'm so very new with mothering still.

    Your son is so very fortunate to have you, to have someone rooting for him, shielding him from others who probably couldn't understand him the way you do.

    He sounds brilliant, btw. And beautiful.

  22. So beautiful and so powerful Mel ... my heart has oozed a little larger just reading your words and reminding me that each of our children have come here with their own path to walk, lessons to learn and we cannot rob them of their experience. At least this is my perspective and I believe in reincarnation and karma and how we all are working through our unique evolutions ...

    I found myself thinking about how other cultures allow more room for diversity - how in India your son would be seen as being in closer contact with the gods and very holy, spiritual, gifted and bestowing blessings upon others ... but you know that, don't you?

    Thank you for sharing your story. You know that by doing so, you are helping us to broaden our perspectives, challenge our worn-out notions and create space for diversity of experiences. I know I too often parent my daughter out of fear: fear of her not fitting in (because I felt that sting so acutely as a child) and that is not a foundation I want to build upon. Love and acceptance, which allow us to appreciate the richness of life.

    xo Lis

  23. Sebastien exudes love and beauty, and you made him.
    With you on everything all the way...
    I absolutely see no other way than raising our children exactly how we want, for our experience of existence and for the good of our families, and for our children as individuals in their own right. I'm committed to not ever being passive to our children being raised ESPECIALLY with mainstream notions of *society* as the beacon to go by. Conscious and soulful care of what we are doing is what is required (in my book anyway) and this is what you are doing. Your lucky children. Love to you. x0x0x


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