Monday, April 9, 2012

Describing What Your Child Cannot See

Sometimes I just sit and stare, thinking, "How do I describe what I am seeing to Madilyn?" Usually it is an entire scene, such as rolling mountains of every shade of green with a perfect round sun sitting high in the sky, shining down at us with a warm smile. The other night my husband called me out to look at the full moon, all white with swirls of gray, sitting just above the roof tops on the horizon.

For science this month, Madilyn is studying the solar system. She loves it. She is excited to learn about the planets, the moon and stars, and the sun. Now that we are learning about the sun in depth, I find myself struggling to explain light to my completely blind child whom has never seen a beam of light in all her 7 years. Before, I could use its energy as heat to demonstrate the sun but now half the lesson is focused on "seeing light". I could try to simply tell her it is just something to memorize- breezing over it lightly, hoping she doesn't ask more than I can explain. For some reason though, I feel like I'm depriving her of knowledge by doing so. Maybe it is just something I must accept. I can't make her see it obviously. But how do you tell your blind child that she "cannot" do something so many others do from the first day of life? Something I myself can do, but not her, my daughter? It is rather frustrating at times. It is heavy on my heart to have to explain it to her, mostly because I am afraid she will not understand what I'm even trying to tell her. For Madilyn, not understanding is worse than understanding and learning to accept it. I don't think it will make her sad, unless she senses I am sad. But I try not to be saddened that she does not see the world as I do, but rather intrigued and in love with the fact that she experiences the same world in a totally unique, beautiful way I will never have the privilege of examining. It is hard to understand, but I know she is happy just the way she is this very day. Maybe one day she will be given the chance to "see", but I don't know that she will choose it.

I found this quote from Helen Keller after writing my thoughts above.

"I seldom think about my limitations, and they never make me sad. Perhaps there is just a touch of yearning at times; but it is vague, like a breeze among flowers."

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this question that you must struggle with every day. I wonder all the time about how difficult it must be to find language to describe things to Madilyn, and then think, how she would describe her experience to others that we could never know? That's a beautiful quote from Keller. I wonder if there is a parallel; for some for example playing music for them comes very naturally and can be just a part of their being in a way that so many others could never know, even with all the training in the world, perhaps another "sense" so to speak. And they don't know a world without it... Their experience must be so different than those without, but difference isn't deficient... What an amazing diverse world of experiences we have to draw from one another! - Stephanie


Thanks for the comments!