Please, spare me the sympathy

I was at an event this weekend where I met some other bloggers. Several times, I was asked what my blog is about, and what Max’s special needs are.

“He has cerebral palsy,” I would say, matter-of-factly.

“I’m sorry,” they’d inevitably respond.

This is the whirling dervish of thoughts that goes through my head when I hear the words “I’m sorry”:

Why are you sorry? My child is not a tragedy. He is a living, breathing, really amazing kid, so please do not assume you should be sorry for either one of us.

OK, I get why you’re saying “I’m sorry.” It’s the instinctive, societally-appropriate thing to say when people don’t know what else to say. You don’t mean anything wrong by it. If the situation were reversed, who knows, maybe I would be saying “I’m sorry.” Disability, and especially kids with disabilities, makes some people uncomfortable.

How is it possible these two little words still bother me after seven years?

Quit being so sensitive and defensive.

And this is what I said:

“Oh, don’t be sorry. He’s doing great!”

And that lead to good discussions about Max and how he’s overcome so much.

It’s taken me a long time to get to a place where I can so calmly and positively respond. And I feel proud—proud for not getting emotionally wrought, proud for being able to help people understand that having a kid with special needs is not something to be sorry about.

Ellen blogs daily at Love That Max

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