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Holland and Bubble Wrap

Thursday, 18 July 2019  |  Admin

Welcome To Holland

In the world of Special Needs Parenting there are few poems as polarising as Welcome to Holland. In short, depending on your interpretation of it you either love it or you hate it. But what’s pretty much a certainty is that if you have a child with a diagnosis of any kind you will at some point have been handed the analogy.

I have to confess I am in the love it camp. Why? Quite simply because as parents we all have expectations of what parenthood will be like, we jump head first into our parenting journey sure that we know what our lives will look like, what kind of parents will be.

And the truth is, whether your child has Special Needs or not, the chances are your parenting journey hasn’t been the one you imagined.

Because all children are unique individuals, complete with minds of their own.

In the poem, Emily Kingsley the poet, describes the parenting journey you imagined as Italy - fast paced, with flashing cars, everyone living the life the dreamed of.

Instead she says, those of us whose children have SEND, end up in Holland. It’s a shock at first, we don’t know the language, we are unprepared - but over time we learn that language and learn the very many beautiful things that Holland and it’s slower pace of life has to offer.

I love that the poem, recognises that as parents change takes adjusting to - after all, that’s true of all parents right - just remember back to those early newborn shell shocked days. I also love that she recognises that Holland and Italy are both incredible places, just with very different ways of lives.

My problem with the poem - if I have one - is this.

I never dreamt of Italy. I didn’t dream of a fast paced flash life.

I dreamt of relaxation, of cuddling up with my children reading books, of playing in the garden, of simply being a family.

Of Holland.

And yet my reality is very different.

We got instead, the fast paced, flashy Italy.

The Lion does not stay still, ever. Not to watch TV, not to eat, not even to sleep.

He is an escapologist, a risk taker, a sensory seeker.

As his parents we are constantly on our guard, constantly poised to move - we are the consummate helicopter parents.

Not because it’s who we are. Either of us.

But because he has no sense of danger. None. At all. We are his bubble wrap, The on,y thing standing between him and certain injury on a daily basis.

And honestly that is exhausting.

Italy is exhausting.

And yet it is also wonderful, exhilarating and loving.

Our lives are infinitely richer for the unexpected move, more filled with love, hugs and cuddles than we could ever have imagined.

And despite it being very different from the life we imagined.

We wouldn’t change it for the world.