So, something started bothering me about yesterday's post on Zach Anner, the guy in the lead for Oprah's Your Own Show competition who has cerebral palsy, after I read a couple of comments here and on Twitter comparing Zach to Josh Blue, the winner of 2006's Last Comic Standing, who also has cp.
Why, I thought, do we instinctively compare Zach Anner, a funny guy who happens to have cp, to another funny guy with cp? Why didn't any of us compare Zach to, say, Dave Letterman? Or Chris Rock? Or Jon Stewart? Why did we have to compare a guy with a disability to another guy with disability?
And why do I want Max to only grow up to be like Zach? I mean, of course, it would be awesome if Max had Zach's humor and charisma (well, Max already has plenty of charisma, he just can't get the words out). But why am I not thinking that I want Max to grow up to be like, say, President Obama? Or Bill Gates?
I suspect this is not a problem with a lack of imagination. I think it's that sometimes, when we dream about what the future may hold for our kids, we don't let ourselves dare to dream big. We've dealt with disappointment. We don't want our hearts to get demolished again. Some of us may have been worked over by pessimistic doctors, like the ones we dealt with in the NICU, doctors who permanently handicapped our hopes for our kids. Maybe some of you are like me: really pragmatic, head full of research and medical information and doctors' reports. We know that the odds are against our kids. Or maybe we're just so caught up in the day-to-day realities of caring for our kids and their many needs that we just can't see that much past it.
And so we end up hoping that, within the realm of the world of disability, our kids will fly high—instead of hoping that they will soar in the mainstream world. Maybe we just hope they will function and be happy, period; there have been times when I've thought that I will be plenty content if Max grows up to live independently.
So here's what I'm daring to hope tonight: I hope Max grows up to have Zach's sense of humor and charisma. And Bill Gates' brilliance. And President Obama's savvy. With a twist of George Clooney thrown in.
I hope Max has all of that, and more. And I'm sitting here hoping the same for your kids or whatever may lie in your dreams for them...if you dare to dream.