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My Blue Orange

Our boy BoyChild turns 4 in a few weeks. Now, you don’t hear much about him on this blog – Princess is an assertive, colourful creature and always has been, and BoyChild, with his calm, quiet personality, happily sits in the background, getting on with life.

Here’s the thing with BoyChild. He’s different to other kids. He’s not intellectually disabled and he doesn’t have autism, but he is, quite simply put, different to other kids. Let me stress at this point, this isn’t an issue for us. It just is what he is like. He is a sweet, loving, kind and considerate little dude. He’s funny, he is sensitive and he loves a good, long cuddle with his Mummy and Daddy.

BoyChild is, in particular, very different to his big sister. And this in itself made people look at him with perhaps more analysis than he would have gotten had he been an only child. Princess spoke very early, and very well. BoyChild still struggles with a lot of his words and pronunciations. Princess has hit every milestone with gusto, all the while making sure that everyone around her notices. BoyChild contently sails through. Princess did a lot of talking for BoyChild when he was little (and still does!) so he relied on her a lot for his communication. Princess needs approval from everyone, BoyChild doesn’t care.

When BoyChild was younger, people suggested he might be autistic. Because of this, we look at him through a finer-toothed comb than perhaps we ordinarily would have. And this can be a very dangerous thing. Because, we came to realise we were missing the milestones that he was hitting due to the fact we were looking for other milestones that he wasn’t hitting. No matter what you think of something, if you are told enough times that it is something else, you begin to doubt your own beliefs. Imagine you have an orange. You know the orange is orange coloured. Of course it is. You are 100% certain. But then everyone around you starts telling you the orange is, in fact, blue. At first you stand your ground, because you know it isn’t what they say it is. But then, as more and more people start to treat your orange as though it were blue, your own doubt starts to creep in. Maybe your orange is blue, and you just can’t see it? And then you start to treat your orange differently, because, apparently, it’s blue.

BoyChild goes to an amazing preschool, and anyone who has known him over the years can attest to the fact that he has come miles in the year that he has been there. He was referred to a speech therapist when he first started and we are now told he may no longer qualify, such is his level of speech now.

Here in New Zealand, all preschool children undertake a B4 School Check just after their fourth birthday. This is to check all sorts of things – their speech, their ability to count, identify shapes, jump, stand on one leg etc, as well as their vision, hearing and other physical things. The purpose is to identify any potential issues with plenty of time for them to be addressed before beginning school at age 5.

BoyChild’s B4 School Check is in three weeks, and Mr T and I are nervous about it. And that upsets me. Why are we, his parents, nervous about what will be said? Are we nervous that he will fail the tests? That we will be told that, in fact, there is something neurologically wrong with him? Absolutely. But that doesn’t upset me – goodness, we will deal with whatever they say and love him no less than the immeasurable amount we already do.

What upsets me, is the fact that I was not nervous when Princess had her B4 School Check. Because she is just like every other kid. But, when I compare what BoyChild can do, compared to Princess at the same age, the differences are staggering in BoyChild’s favour! Princess could count to 13, BoyChild can count to 50 and beyond. Princess couldn’t jump on one leg, BoyChild has been doing that since he was 18 months old! Yet when you are told that your orange is different, you become accustomed to being surprised when they do things they “should”.

BoyChild is having a birthday party next weekend, and I am so excited. This is the first year that he has his very own friends to invite. He has picked them from the kids he plays with at preschool. This is his chance to shine, his time in the spotlight. I got a phone call last night from the mother of one of his friends, saying that her son would be delighted to come to the party. And I got off the phone, and nearly cried. Mr T asked me why I was sad, and I said I wasn’t. I was overwhelmingly happy, because no matter how much of a blue orange he appears to adults, to kids, he is just a regular, awesome little kid. With real friends. He has friends.

Because, the last thing a parent wants to see in their child, is being left out and alone. Well, that’s the last thing I want to see. Because that hurts, and I don’t want my children to hurt.

So there it is. We don’t know what the future holds for BoyChild, but right now, he is such a great little guy with so much potential and fascination with the world around him. A world that, I’m sure, he sees differently to us. We see a door, he sees the inner mechanisms of that door. We see a kid at the park, he sees a friend.

I don’t care if he is an orange orange, or our own Blue Orange. One of the greatest lessons in parenting that we have learned in his four years, is that different does not have to be a negative thing. He is happy and healthy and compassionate and intelligent and caring and fun and adores his sisters.

What more could we ask for?

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