Most sentient creatures expression a variety of emotions: Happy, sad, content, angry, frustrated, scared, elated, and so on. In addition to this, any extra-ordinary family can tell you that even within the common expressions, are a variety of sub-types: Happy-controlled, happy-uncontrolled, sad-appropriate, sad-inappropriate, frustrated-contained, frustrated-hide-the-breakables, etc. However parrots really only have two options: Excited and Not Excited.
How do you know if a parrot is happy? Her eyes will kind of dilate and she will probably make some kind of squealing noise. And she might bite, just from sheer excess joy that has to get out. How do you know if a parrot is mad? Her eyes will kind of dilate, and there will definitely be squealing noises (unless she is only mildly mad). And she will probably bite. If the parrot bites, don’t assume that she is either happy or mad, it could just be that she panicked and didn’t know what else to do.
ADHD kids might be extreme in their emotions, but at least they can be counted on for clarity. If your special kiddo is happy, you know. If your special kiddo is mad, EVERYONE knows. If your special kiddo received instructions at school to start experimenting with Microsoft Power Point, make a mock presentation, and then email their comments on the process not only to their teacher, but to the principal, and the government ministry of education office (because apparently May means “survey time”), you can safely assume that your special kiddo will be running around the house like Chicken Little, demanding everyone else immediately stop what they are doing and help her before she gets expelled by the Prime Minister. I mean seriously, my First Daughter isn’t the only extra-ordinary kid in the class, couldn’t they have found a gentler way of explaining this task to avoid panic and mayhem?
Anyway, with the parrot, First Daughter has create a fabulous new game. She sticks her face on one side of the cage, causing the parrot to run and attack that side. When the parrot fails to bite my child, they both have a good laugh (quite a deep belly laugh from the parrot), and then they do the same thing on the other side of the cage. The parrot may or may not be enjoying this, it’s a little hard to say. Occasionally, she will maniacally shriek “PEEK-A-BOOOOOOOOOOO!” if the game continues for a long period. At least she’s getting some exercise.
They’re a perfect fit in other ways. Sometimes their emotion gets so strong that the line be between elation and anger gets blurred. Too much fun is like an out-of-control roller coaster ride, frightening if too long, and exhausting if too intense. Disappointment can be as dangerous as a sucking black hole, one step in a negative direction and it can be near impossible to pull back. There’s goodness along the way though, don’t get me wrong. This is how childhood is supposed to be, with all of the bumps and bruises along the way. I just worry (constantly in case you haven’t noticed) about the one time which is going to be one-time-too far.
It’s 9:00 PM. First Daughter has popped up out of bed with a burning question: “Why do cockatiels like shiny stuff?”
“All birds do,” I answered. “Good night.”
“Got it, thanks,” replied First Daughter, now fully equipped to fall asleep for the evening. At least that’s my hope.
And then I start wondering about other people’s families. It’s not true that everyone has problems, and that all parents find child-rearing challenging. Some are naturally better at it than others, some have an easier time than others. Why some families become extra-ordinary, and why some have such difficult burdens to bear is a question that is always on my mind. Was the ADHD genetic, and will there be epilepsy and Crohn’s Disease (hubby’s ailment) in our children’s future? I’m not feeling sorry for myself, at least that’s not what I want to do, but I can’t help wondering what the moral of the story is here.
When I first met my husband, he was working as a job coach with adults with developmental disabilities. He was good at it and enjoyed it, which is not common for this very challenging and low-paying profession. I loved his goodness, particularly that his goodness extended to a population that many people have trouble even acknowledging. I remember thinking shortly after I got pregnant, that if our child would be born with some sort of birth defect… well then G-d couldn’t have picked a better family for that child to be born into. Pregnancy bliss. This thought comes back to me at night… and sometimes I say quietly back to G-d: I didn’t actually mean it. I didn’t know that it could be so hard. And I’ve been a good person, I’ve tried to be at least. Why are some who are so careless get such an easy ride? Why do those who care the most have to struggle so much.
My phone just rang, and it was the Art Therapist, whom I love. She told me that First Daughter was making real progress, and that she was such a wonderful girl. I started thanking her profusely, I was so happy to hear such positive things, and while I didn’t say it out loud, I thought to myself that the worst must be over. The Art Therapist must have heard the relief in my voice, because she felt it important to remind me that while we should celebrate my daughter’s achievements, we still had a lot to work on. She gently reminded me that my daughter would have these struggles for her entire life.
First Daughter made a beautiful presentation about Morocco, and managed to complete the survey at 9 PM last night. It only took a couple hours of yelling at her father and sisters, panicked SMSs and Facebook messages to me while I was at work, and finally three different computers to find one that had both powerpoint, Hebrew enabled, and with Hebrew alphabet stickers on the keyboard. And now, Powerpoint is her new best friend. My husband’s birthday is today (according to the Hebrew calendar, 12th of Sivan), and First Daughter is so excited that she made him a special powerpoint presentation. The title slide says “To Summarize: I love you.” How cute can you get.
To summarize: The Prime Minister has not expelled my daughter, the parrot is dilated, and all is generally manic in our household at the moment. Things will become even more manic when I tell First Daughter in a few days that I’m getting us tickets to see her favorite singer, Eyal Golan, when he comes to Karmiel in June. Especially when I ask her not to tell anyone else, particularly little sisters who are too young to go. You know on second thought, maybe I shouldn’t tell First Daughter until the actual evening of the concert.