All He Needs

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As soon as we met, I was annoyed at her. She walked into the room, smiled at me, and I instantly judged her and disrespected her.

For starters, it was her glaringly obvious age, or rather the lack thereof. What was she, 21? 22? Young enough to be my daughter. When she began to talk, my mind wandered to her perfect sheitel, her perfect outfit, her perfect smile, her perfect wedding band and diamond ring that sparkled when she moved her hand to make a point. I wondered if that hand had ever kneaded a dough, changed a diaper, bathed a child.

I wondered because this perfect young person was my son’s new therapist. And I was meeting her because she felt there were things she must share with me and explain to me, and she annoyed me, well, just because. What bugged me most was how sweet and articulate she was. I found it all so patronizing: this young, perfect professional sharing her “expertise.”

What did she know about my child other than having observed him for a total of two hours? How could she possibly come to conclusions, serious conclusions, without knowing him, living with him, loving him?

I thought back to the day my son’s morah had called with her concerns. I’d listened attentively because, after all, I’m a mature, caring mom. Also, I’d known this morah for a long time; she had years of experience and was smart. “Don’t worry, Mrs. L.,” she’d said. “He probably just needs some time. But in case it’s more than that, try to get him evaluated.”

She’d directed me to call early intervention and start the process. After a series of phone calls, evaluations, and appointments, a conclusion had been drawn: My son needed therapy. Consistent therapy, by a number of therapists, supervised by a BCBA.

And that’s why I was there that day, talking to this annoying yet sweet young girl, um, lady. She spent an hour outlining a list of recommended tasks and suggested I implement them at home. Because, she said ever so sweetly, for best results it’s important to carry over the work we do in therapy at home.

She wrote me a list, tapping it into her iPad, and created a fancy spreadsheet: playtime, dinnertime, bedtime. My annoyance turned into anger.

The cherry on top came when I was about to leave. She handed me a book, saying brightly, “This might be super-duper helpful for you in helping you understand your son better.” Super-duper? Are you 12?!

I glanced at the cover: Creating Healthy Children through Attachment Parenting. My anger turned into blatant rage. Seriously? This is baby number six. You, who probably never carried, birthed, or raised a child; you, who all you know about parenting is what you learned via your quasi-legit education, most likely attained online, you are going to tell me how to parent my child?

I mumbled a cold thank you and nodded curtly when she asked if she could call me at the end of the week to see what “we” had accomplished. I stumbled into my car, where my anger suddenly deflated and turned into sadness. I felt tears prick the back of my eyes, felt a lump in my throat the size of a golf ball, all brought on by Mrs. Half-My-Age, Half-My-Size, Half-My-Life-Experience therapist.

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 626)


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Tagged: Family Tempo