What My Son’s Eczema Has Taught Me About Parenting a Child with Unique Needs

(NOTE: This is a duplicate blog post originally published on http://www.SacramentoParent.com in October 2013. I am sharing it here to reach a broader audience.)

My nine-year old has faced many health challenges in his life, including failure-to-thrive as an infant, seizures through age 4, and food intolerance. However, more recently he has acquired chronic and severe eczema. The last flare-up lasted over six-months due to unknown environmental and food allergies.

My husband and I often ask ourselves why Parker–with the heart and attitude of an angel–must suffer so much. He just wants to be a normal kid and do the things normal kids do.

When his rash began to spread up his neck and onto his face, he also had to endure stares from his classmates and constant comments from strangers such as “Ooo…bad sunburn!” or “What’d he get into?” I even caught a grocery bagger coming up behind us to “sanitize the aisle” after a shopping trip where he was particularly irritated and scratching non-stop as we stood in line.

Thankfully, I was able to pinpoint a few major triggers and after a lot of research, discovered the perfect and individualized combination of natural and prescription remedies to help him heal both inside and out.

After making the difficult and challenging choice to homeschool him for the remainder of the school year, we began finally seeing his condition improve. Today, I am happy to announce my 9-year-old looks great and is back to his old goofy self. He sings and dances in the bathroom as I apply all his creams and ointments post-shower. He can’t wait to be Hawkeye for Halloween and told me earlier this week, “Mom, I do NOT want to be that house that doesn’t give out candy just because I can’t have any!” As soon as he is up for a break from his schoolwork, he is running around the house practicing shooting his arrows.

So what I have learned from all of this?

1. Maybe it’s obvious, but children are resilient. No matter how awful he felt or looked, Parker would still tag along with me on errands, and even to work when needed. Sure, there was a point where he watched a lot of T.V. and didn’t do much. But as soon as his energy returned he was up and ready to face the world. A day doesn’t pass without several hugs and smiles. He knows intuitively I have done all I have in my power to help him get better.

2. People will stare but we don’t have to care. Parker seemed completely oblivious to the looks he got when we were out in public. He didn’t try to “hide” himself and on his good days, actually drew attention singing along to the radio, or making sure I understood exactly which sports car he liked in the parking lot.

3. There is only so much we can do as parents; the rest we have to let go. There is a part of me that wants Parker to get better for good. I am tired of micro-managing every piece of food that touches his mouth and being concerned about his exposure to dust or hair or chemicals in the air. But stressing about all of it just puts everyone in a bad mood. I have my arsenal of remedies at hand, and have resolved to take action as soon as I see a problem arise–instead of going crazy trying to prevent a flare-up in the first place.

4. Normal is a state of mind. What is “normal” anyway? Normal isn’t always a good thing, or even a great thing. As parents of children with unique needs, our normal may look different, but it is still normal to us. So what if we can’t participate in gorging all the Halloween candy next week. At this point, Parker is too excited about trading in his candy for tickets to see Thor to care!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s