Dec 21,2012 Friday
Dear Jun Le,
This is Mama’s first letter to you. Thought I’ll start penning down the things we did together, the improvements you’ve made and our hopes and wishes for you, so that one day, when you are grown up and when you’ve learnt to understand what we’re writing, you’ll be able to relive the memories of the wonderful times we spent together through this little diary.
In a week’s time, Mama will be going back to work full-time at the newsroom. Can’t believe the past seven months just flew past like that.
Mama is really proud of your achievements over these few months. You really amaze us with the things you say sometimes, and it makes us wonder if we’ve underestimated your cognitive skills.
I was really surprised and truly elated when you came over to me last week and said “I’m hungry”. You’ve never been able to express your needs that well, Mama is so proud of you.
I can still remember how we used to be afraid of taking you out to the mall or anywhere else. We’re always fearful of your meltdowns in public and I can still remember our helplessness during those times.
You probably cannot remember, but there was once we took you on a bus ride to Haw Par Villa. On the way back, on bus no 188, you got really upset because the air-con in the bus was not working and it was getting really stuffy. You made such a big fuss, we had to alight before we reached our stop.The other passengers were casting disapproving looks at us as if we were indulgent parents who could not control our willful child.
As we’re unable to always successfully prevent such meltdowns in public, your Papa is always hesitant whenever I suggested taking you out. I reasoned that always keeping you in a familiar environment is not the way to go. I want you to learn through experience how to behave in different situations, despite knowing that it may be difficult to control you sometimes. I insisted on taking you on bus rides, MRT rides, bringing you to the beach, we even braved two 6 hour plane rides to and back from Shanghai.
You’ve shown us that you can learn how to behave in different situations, you just needed the chance to try.
One of my biggest achievement during this seven months break was toilet training you. It was an unforgettable experience. You were already five years old, and the teachers at Feiyue were terribly concerned that if you continued to poo in your diapers, no special school will take you. The teachers mentioned an example of a 20-year-old autistic young adult from St Andrew’s School who was still on diapers, and I was worried that you’d be like this too. I was determined not to let this happen.
Not sure if you can remember Mama breaking down and crying together with you in the room when you rejected all my attempts to help you to sit on the throne. Papa was away in Hokkaido on a work trip, and it was just me and you. You finally relented when I threatened to walk out of the house and leave you on your own. Others may find it ridiculous, but the sense of relief I felt when I saw you making your first attempt at pooing in the toilet bowl was indescribable. Not only was it a big milestone for us, it also signaled to me that you are able to learn the ways of living like the rest of us in this society, you just needed a bit more time and help.
I’ve heard from other parents of special needs children about their worries for their children when they pass on. Some parents invested in huge trust funds or insurance policies for their children, others silently prayed that the child will not outlive them. Sometimes I’d also worry, but I realized that it’s not going to be of much help worrying. We’d try to save as much as we can so that you’ve got something to fall back on when we’re gone, but I guess a more practical gift for you is to do all we can to help you overcome your learning disability, so that you can live independently when you’re grown up.
Not sure how the future holds for us, but it’s ok, we’ll take one step at a time ok?