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Welcome to Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid

Therapy and sanity for ordinary parents of special kids.

Today’s Guest Blogger – Paula Libbey

Today, we have a special treat. As part of our new guest blogger initiative, we’re pleased to introduce our new guest blogger, Paula Libbey. Paula is the mom to two amazing kids — a first-grade girl and a third-grade boy. Her son has Asperger’s, NLD, ADHD, disorder or written expression, and mathematics disorder.  Paula, a former copywriter and Twin Cities resident, is a featured blogger at, a personal development website dedicated to helping promote balance and well-being for women. Please give it up for Paula. 

Bragging Rights for My Child with Learning Disabilities

Ever get up caught in one of those conversations with fellow parents–at a school function or family gathering–where everyone is bragging about their children? Bragging about our kids is supposed to be fun, right?

I ask because I’m still trying to figure out the fun part. Here’s a general idea of how these conversations typically play out for me. I smile, nod, and listen to the other parents. They say things like: My daughter is 2 grade levels ahead in math; My son speaks 3 languages; My daughter just won the tennis tournament…for the fourth year in a row; My son saved 2 hump back whales last summer while we were sailing across the Atlantic [Okay, I’m exaggerating for dramatic effect]; My dog started his own organic rawhide business and made us millions [complete fabrication…for dramatic effect].

I quickly realize I am out of my league and I need to escape the conversation, stat. I don’t want to be too abrupt. I need to look natural. So as I slowly back away from the group, I throw in a, “Wow, what an amazing kid.” [And that dog–just phenomenal] Just as my statement trails off, all eyes are suddenly on me. I want to say, “No, no, no. I appreciate you offering me a turn to boast about my wonderful kid, but I’ve got to scoot.”

I don’t say that. Against my better judgement, I proceed to brag. As I do, I  unleash a plague of crickets and bring the once lively conversation to a screeching halt.

“Well”, I say, “My Kid* recently made intermittent eye contact during a conversation!” [Hmm. They don’t seem impressed. I wasn’t going to mention this next one because I didn’t want to be such a braggart, but fine.] “My Kid also recently paddled a canoe!” [No reaction. Clearly they are just confused.] “That means My Kid crossed his midline from right to left without switching hands!” [crickets begin chirping here] “That means the neurons between the right and left brain hemispheres are growing and connecting!” [crickets now out in FULL force]

As a parent of a child with learning disorders**, hangin’ with the parents of “the typicals” can sometimes be awkward. While I can proudly say that My Kid is thoughtful, intelligent, resilient, and funny, my bragging rights are, for now, very different. Until that changes, I think I just need to work on my exit strategies.

~ Paula Libbey, Feature Contributor

* I’m using the phrase “My Kid” in an effort to respect what’s left of my child’s privacy.
**I’m not at all private about this issue. In fact, much to my husband’s chagrin, I often end up discussing the topic with people I’ve just met or the clerk at Trader Joe’s. [They’re just so darn friendly and upbeat.]  Anyway, “learning disorders” is a general term. In our case, the combination of specific disorders would require long explanations, which I am too lazy to write at the moment.

5 Responses to Today’s Guest Blogger – Paula Libbey

  1. Lily March 13, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

    Have u had the opposite happen, where parents are one up-ing each other on how bad parenting can be? “Oh, he took off his pants and peed right on the floor? Well, my kid poos right on the floor.” He only eats white colored foods? Yea, we haven’t gone out for a meal in years, its impossible to get him to eat anything.”

  2. Just Anothah Sistah March 14, 2012 at 1:49 am #

    Still laughing out loud!

  3. a.baker March 14, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    Love it! The things we brag about for our differently abled kids is awesome and exiting for us and them…anyone who doesn’t understand or get exited with us that’s their problem! No exit strategy work needed….

  4. Kathleen Mulrooney March 14, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

    Love your honesty and amazing humor. Living in the incredible city we live in, I often find myself thinking I must have missed drinking from the “smart” fountain when pregnant which apparently 90% of the community did drink from. Sorry kids- 🙂

  5. Ohio March 15, 2012 at 3:35 am #

    Dead on! Hilarious….
    Sometimes I think it’s good we’re not caught up in that messy game. It looks more stressful than dealing with aspergers some days.

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