When friends say painful things about your child

It’s Saturday night, I’m in Chicago for the BlogHer conference. A good friend of mine lives there. This is a good friend I tend to avoid talking on the phone with since inevitably she asks, “Is Max talking yet?”


“Yet” is a horrible word to use when you’re talking with a parent of a kid who has disabilities. For me, it dredges up a barrage of emotions. Disappointment that my child seems deficient in her eyes. Despair that Max may never achieve “yet.” Rage that the person is clueless enough to use that word, even though she means well.

Sure enough, she brings it up. Only this time, we’re at a crowded restaurant we’ve come to for dessert, waiting to be seated. We’ve just been been having a fun, lively conversation about which bazillion-calorie piece of cake we’re going to have, and so what she says feels extra jarring.

“Soooo, how’s Max doing? Is he talking yet?” she asks.

Oh. My. God.

I feel that surge of emotions welling up inside me. I do not want to get into this now. Actually, I do not want to get into this ever. Ask me how Max is doing, fine. Ask me what words he has, OK. Do not ask about “yet.”

Am I overly sensitive? Maybe. I have earned that right. I have a kid with serious special needs and you’re asking me a question that somehow dredges up all of my anxieties about him, every single one.

I simply say, “He’s doing great, he has a bunch of words!” And then, to head off any more questions, “He’s walking really well, and he’s using his hands better, and he and Sabrina are each other’s best friends and enemies—are your kids like that?”

I realize, of course, I could come out and tell her that when she uses the word “yet” it upsets me. But, I just haven’t had the emotional energy to bring it up. Certainly not on a Saturday night out

Friends can be well meaning, but some just don’t understand.

Ellen blogs daily at To The Max


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