Sunday, May 19, 2013

"Un peu spécial..."

If you're an English speaker, I bet you think you know what the title means, but the French give "a bit special" a different spin - here are some lovely variations of its translation, which range from "a little strange" to "a bit unique"... including some positives but frequently putting a more negative spin on the whole concept of  "special".

My family has been having a bit of an interesting, not to say "spécial" month, and there have been moments when I have wondered why we are just all so weird. Surely normal people don't have such a bizarre series of things to deal with?

Well now, of course they may, and the fact that they may deal with them in different ways does't necessarily mean that our way of coping is worse, or that someone else's is better.

I have been forcibly reminded of how parents think that their children's problems are all their fault by a chat with a wonderful mum, whose child is one of my many dyslexic pupils. Without going into too many details, I can tell you her first reaction when she realised that her child was struggling to learn. She told me, "I thought: It's all my fault! I've indulged my child too much and now s/he's too lazy and undisciplined to learn like the other children!" The discovery that the child was in fact trying very hard, but had a genuine block, freed her up to love and help her child - and this is something that I can identify with too.

Then I read this post today - by a mum whose eldest has just turned 18, and who talks with a beautiful, poetic honesty, about the beauty of their life together but also about the hard years. I hope it's OK if I quote her here. She says: "Hard to know I can’t fix any of the times I dented up your heart with my ridiculous white-knuckled steering-wheel control and big Buick idols."

There we are - we think that everything that goes wrong is our fault, and that if only we keep harsh enough control, our children will be "normal", whatever that is, and not "un peu spécial". But actually, I think everyone's child is special, don't you? After all, I am a Special Needs Teacher...

And one rather sweet thing about the "specialness" of my family was brought home to me again today, as we drove to church and the boys and Ben were yet again discussing what colour words and letters are. And the colours of sounds, smells and feelings, too - I didn't even know they saw colourful feelings, even after all these years of living with them! The ability to do this is called synesthesia, and it's certainly quite special! It's inherited from their dad - I really am the odd one out in this family.


magsmcc said...

A couple of years ago, we started to suspect that, despite what his school were telling us, our son might actually be un peu ordinaire. The relief! That stigmatisation of special is awful for children, but also for mums, and dads, who grieve over themselves. I love the big buick bit from that quote. We live in Big Buick Land here, and that is a congested roadway to drive!

Kezzie said...

Interesting post! Yes, I can imagine parents beating themselves up about things that they can't help!x

Anonymous said...

Been reading your blog for a while now (I'm a friend of Lorraine's (Balancing Kiwi) To gain a good understanding of synesthesia you should read "A Mango-Shaped Space" by Wendy Mass, It describes this wonderful but quirky 'condition' perfectly. My daughter read it in high school and really enjoyed it, so I read it too and it was the first time I'd ever heard of such a thing. SInce then I've heard of a few people who can taste colours and also those who see letters and numbers as colours. I even met a woman who saw days of the week as colours!! It's really a very interesting subject.

We all are special in our own way!!

Sue said...

I have heard of this before, it must be really interesting but I can understand that you feel left out.

Purrfect Haven said...

what a beautiful post. we have been out of the loop, so its lovely to be visiting. Love Helen, Darcy and Bingley xxx