Last Saturday, I was with our batchmates from DSAPI for our regular get togethers. We try to meet at least once every few months just to catch up and have our kids play together. I remember one of the first few times that we met outside of DSAPI. We met at a friend’s house where she laid out mats and toys for the kids. Our babies were all just laying down on the mats, trying to crawl while us parents and our talked about medical tests, maintenance meds, if the holes in our kids hearts have closed, and what thyroid medications our kids are taking. We were all still a bit overwhelmed then but we found ourselves laughing and crying together. There is a sense of comfort in seeing our kids all growing up together. Last Saturday, the kids were all a bit older and were much more active. They were toddlers moving about, throwing away toys and having tantrums. We all looked at our kids and realized how far they’ve come and how far we parents have grown too.
Our talks of course would always touch on our kids’ future. We all agree that the Philippines does not yet have the systems and infrastructures in place that would support individuals with learning disabilities. Take schools for example. For David, it was easy to decide where to send him. For Noah, my goal is to find a playschool that know how to best motivate and work with his skills. Right now, he is largely non-verbal and he is still learning how to self-feed. The choices are between SPED vs a regular playschool and the values I am looking for in a school and the teachers are empathy and the understanding how inclusion is important for Noah and also for his “typical classmates”. Trying to picture a possible future for your child with special needs involves so much more consideration and criteria. Although I try to live one day at a time, there are just some times when I can’t help myself and the worry just washes over me.
It was what Dan said that really made the most sense of Noah’s future.
“He will be what he will be”
These words grounded me in reality. Noah (and David) will be whoever they will be. We can provide them with the foundation and the right support now but their future is entirely theirs for the taking. I have always qualified what Dan always says and I always tell him that my dream for the boys is that they will go through life being genuinely and deeply happy with whatever it is they decide to do and to be. And happiness according to Eleanor Roosevelt, “is not a goal, it is a by-product.”
Happiness is not a goal, it is a by-product. Paradoxically, the one sure way not to be happy is deliberately to map out a way of life in which one would please oneself completely and exclusively. After a short time, a very short time, there would be little that one really enjoyed. For what keeps our interest in life and makes us look forward to tomorrow is giving pleasure to other people.
Someone once asked me what I regarded as the three most important requirements for happiness. My answer was: ‘A feeling that you have been honest with yourself and those around you; a feeling that you have done the best you could both in your personal life and in your work; and the ability to love others.’
But there is another basic requirement, and I can’t understand now how I forgot it at the time: that is the feeling that you are, in some way, useful. Usefulness, whatever form it may take, is the price we should pay for the air we breathe and the food we eat and the privilege of being alive. And it is its own reward, as well, for it is the beginning of happiness, just as self-pity and withdrawal from the battle are the beginning of misery.
My dream for Noah, Joey, Jiada, Tomas, Lee, and Coco’s is that they live a life doing things that they are happy with and proud of and that because of them, others become happy too. It’s a big dream, a big wish, a big ask. But for Noah and his friends I can only dare to dream big.
The gang: Coco is hugging Joey. Lee is all smiles and Noah is up to something again heehee.