Monday, September 12, 2011

Ignorance is bliss

"Ignorance is bliss" was just a phrase, until I had Max. Back then, those words suddenly seemed cruel, and personal. Ignorance was torture. It didn't seem at all blissful that Max had cognitive delays and couldn't seem to grasp things other children his age were understanding. Once, when he was a toddler, a relative slipped and called him "simple-minded," and I lost it and shouted my head off. Partly because I was furious, partly from fear because I wasn't yet sure it wasn't true.

Yesterday, 9/11, Sabrina caught a few moments of the victims names' being read off on TV. We talked a bit about what she'd discussed in school—the bad people who had destroyed buildings, the hurt people the heroes.

Max wasn't interested in listening. "Bad people" is a concept that's beyond him right now. And you know what? I had no issue with that. I know that Max's mind is bright, fertile, and full of possibilities (and purple). He is far from simple-minded or ignorant—just unaware of certain things, as of yet.

Max will someday understand 9/11, and much, much more. For now, he is the happiest child I have ever known, he is making progress, and he is learning a whole lot every single day. He is not aware of what he doesn't know. Ignorance is bliss...and that's OK.

Do you know what I mean?


  1. Yes! And that's true of kids who don't have special needs as well! My 8yo has no concept of 9/11. I asked him if he knew anything about the twin towers or the date and he said no. I left it at that. Apparently it hasn't been talked about in school yet. And I'm grateful for that. It keeps him innocent and "ignorant" for another year, at least. I'll tell him all about it when the time comes, but for now, I'm enjoying his innocence.

  2. Yes I do. I was a kid who was always more tuned in to bad than good, and spent a lot of time worrying.

    It is one of my greatest joys as a mom that I see my kids blissfully unaware of so much. If one of my kids gets to experience that a little longer than the other, I'm nothing but grateful.

  3. Yes! My little guy was fine until he realized how much he did not know! At first he was just learning at a different pace and in a different way and that was fine. But soon he knew enough to realize that he was not getting what all of his peers were getting. Now we stress how differently everybody's brain works. He is an amazing artist and we stress how some people will never be able to do what he does but eventually he learned to read (by 9 yrs old not 5 or 6 like his buddies) but they still can't draw as well as he can.

    We also stress how there are many KINDs of smart and that we all have special gifts.

  4. We didn't memorialize the day in any way. We went to the lake this weekend and stayed until late last night. I just don't need that kind of upset/TV coverage of planes crashing into buildings (over and over and over) these days. We kept the radio off and played a DVD on the portable player for the kids.

    Ignorance IS bliss in some cases. I can't argue with you there.

  5. I would never call somebody simple minded and I think that is ridiculous. CP does not make you simple minded. He may have some learning disabilities, but that's ok if he doesn't understand everything. Nobody understands everything.

  6. Agree with Karen on this.
    There's a spectrum of learning/awareness/ability on which all kids exist.
    Many kids without Max's challenges in life will not "get" 9/11.
    We can treasure their innocence because one day they will learn about the nasty things that happen in the world.

  7. I still haven't talked to my 7 year old about it. You're do so is to take away a piece of innocence.

  8. I think that is why kids wait til fifth grade to learn slavery and kkk I do not think i would understand 9/11 if i were Max's age because he was not alive he will though

  9. Thanks for that perspective, Karen, Dave and AZ. You are very right.

    Cranky Mommy (who sounds like anything but): I love what you say about stressing how there are all kinds of smart and gifts. Max has a fantastic visual memory, for one!

    Felicia, that sounds like a lovely day.

    And Tooner? YES, ridiculous.

  10. Wow, talk about love for your young man blazing through your words!! I loved this post. I'm really glad that I happened across it.

  11. Ignorance is bliss in many situations. I love that my 12 y/o who has autism does not really want to discuss 9/11. My 10 y/o did as they discussed it quite a bit in school this past week. I was emotionally exhausted after answering so many of her questions. It's a difficult balance to find with our kids being real & honest and wanting them to stay young for as long as possible.

    As to the "simple minded" comment, I'm pretty sure that my head would have spun around and smoke would have come out of my ears. It's sad that people think that individuals with disabilities (no matter what type)think they are simple minded. My daughter has struggles in multiple areas, but she has the most AMAZING memory and can do math better than most adults.

    Thanks for continuing to educate and highlight the strengths of kids with special needs! You Rock!

  12. I'm going to disagree with you. My mom told me and my siblings about 9/11 the day it happened. I was six at the time and my brother was four. She didn't think that it would hurt. Of course she didn't tell us everything but just that my uncle was dead. She spared the gruesome details for later however. Kids need to be told a simple version of events that change everything. I plan on telling my unborn baby someday.


Thanks for sharing!

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