She cried when she told the story, and we listeners, we cried, too. She'd had a discussion with her sweet preteen son, who struggled with learning differences, and what he'd said cracked hearts wide open around the room ...
"Mama, it's hard when I'm with other kids. I never say the right thing, and I'm not sure anyone likes me. I'm so glad you listen to me and know me. Really, you're my best friend."
Could there be a greater compliment?
They're a mystery sometimes, these bundles of joy who so quickly wriggle out of their wraps and take off running into the sunset. Each child is a complex combination of talents, personality, learning strengths and weaknesses, interests, preferences ... the list goes on and on. Each is singular, unique, different.
Some seem more different than others.
Those of us raising children who struggle with particular brands of outside-the-box-ness so often feel alone. We know mental illnesses exist, and yet they still tend to carry a bit of a stigma, as if a diagnosis implies we've done something wrong, somehow. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Sally Clarkson writes, "I did not have all the resources available now to understand his (Nathan's) differences. I mostly had a lot of critics who made me feel like a failure as a mom."
Sally and Nathan Clarkson know this fight from the inside--the fight to not only define but embrace differences; to find the help necessary to tame the harsh edges that so often cut on both sides, to encourage rather than give up in frustration as a parent trying to train a child in the way he should go. This book is a window into their own struggle, and also an invitation to enter into our own more fully.
After years of studying Nathan, listening to him, finding ways to reach his precious heart, they finally had their list of letters--OCD, ADHD, ODD, plus a handful of learning issues and of course his own personality! But every person is, of course, much more than a list of letters. Sally writes,
"Our boy was not a diagnosis. Not a problem to be solved nor a disorder to be fixed. He was a child to be guided and trained and gloried in. And Nathan's differences--yes, even the ones which sometimes exasperated him and us--were, like Nathan himself, also part of the gift he is to the world and to us."
If you're the parent of an outside-the-box child, the wife of an outside-the-box husband, a friend to another mama who's parenting an outside-the-box son or daughter--or even if the outside-the-box one is the face looking back at you from the mirror--I believe this book will bring insight, encouragement, and inspiration. Find it at www.thedifferentbook.com .