As a blind parent, people say and do things, that they otherwise wouldn’t to a sighted parent. They are trying to be helpful, or funny, and for the most part I don’t sweat about it. But there is one thing people say that tends to upset me, and I don’t know how to respond to it. It is when they say: “just wait until he realizes you can’t see him”; or “you’re in for a lot of trouble when your son realizes what he can get away with, because you can’t see him.”
There is a few different feelings I have when people say this. First, I am offended that people think my sweet little boy is manipulative, and mean spirited enough to do this. Then I am slightly irritated that they have implied, that I do not know what he is up to; that I am incapable of keeping track of what he is doing because I am blind. Then I have this fear: what if they are right? What if, when my son starts to understand what it means to not be able to see him, he tries to pull one over on me? Then I think: no, this will not happen. He respects his mama and understands his boundaries.
Well, if there is one thing I have learned about children, it is that they are experts in finding boundaries and pushing them. As much as I hate to admit it: they were right. My son has started to understand what it means to not be able to see. He is still my sweet little boy, but he has started to be sneaky and lie to me, because he knows I can’t see him. I think overall, this is pretty normal child behavior. Every child goes through phases where they try and see what they can get away with. I think it is just a little different when the child’s parent is blind.
For instance: one day I was in the kitchen making dinner, and my son came up next to me. I figured he just wanted to see what I was doing. Then, he ran off, and it sounded like he had stolen something off the counter. I asked him what he took, and he told me nothing. He said that he was just putting a toy on the counter. And sure enough, there was a toy There that hadn’t been there before. So I continued what I was doing without another thought. A couple of minutes later I turn around to bring his food to the table, and I smell a banana.
Not only had he lied to me about not stealing anything off the counter, but he sat practically right in front of me to eat it, because he knew I wouldn’t see him. He also was aware of the fact that he was not supposed to have a snack because we were about to have dinner. A sighted parent may have looked over and seen him steal the banana, or notice that one was missing. And if they didn’t notice they’re young child take it; the child most certainly would have hidden himself away to eat it. Not just eat it in plain sight.
There have also been other similar instances. He has taken three fruit snacks, when I said he could have one, or three pieces of candy, when he was only supposed to have two. He has hidden toys in his coat pockets, or backpack to take to school, right in front of me. And I only find out because his teacher takes them away from him at school.
On multiple occasions, I have asked him if he was dressed, and he says that yes he is. Then when I say, “Ok, let’s go outside,” he will tell me that actually he did not get dressed, and he is in his underwear. Similarly, he will get dressed to go somewhere, only to be in his pajamas. Or even this morning before school, we were running late, and I needed to grab rain boots for his backpack. He has two pairs, that visually look completely different, but feel the same. I quickly grabbed two, and because we were in a hurry, I just asked my son if they matched. He said yes. Then when we had gotten past the point of no return on our walk to school, he proceeds to tell me that they don’t actually match.
A lot of this is probably normal child behavior, but some of it he is definitely doing because I can’t see him. He is testing the boundaries and figuring out what he can get away with, like any child. He is just doing it in a more apparent way, because he thinks I won’t know because I can’t see him do it.
So, how do I deal with this? How do I take my lack of sight out of the equation, and teach him that my blindness won’t hinder me in catching him out? It’s been a learning process, and I am still learning.
The first thing I learned to do, was to make him show me his hands. If I think he has taken something that he is not supposed to have, I feel both of his hands. If it sounds like he is getting into the cupboard, or on the counter, I check his hands. If he asks to bring a toy somewhere, and I say no, I check his hands.
Also, now if he tells me he is dressed, I feel his arms, legs, and feet to make sure. When I do this, I can also check to make sure he is not wearing pajamas when he is not supposed to. Though, we did have a bit of an issue with this one day. I checked his legs to make sure he was wearing appropriate clothes for school, and he was. When we were walking to school, my son decided that he wanted to see if he could beat the bus, so we started to run. He suddenly stopped, and told me his underwear were sticking out. So I checked his pants, which were all the way down to his knees. When I had checked earlier, I neglected to make sure that he buttoned and zipped them. So now, I have also learned, that I need to check the buttons on his pants as well.
I am constantly learning new techniques to help in parenting. Being a blind parent, is different from being a sighted parent. But it shouldn’t mean that your children can get away with more because you can’t see them. You just have to find different ways to handle situations-Feel their hands instead of looking at them from across the room. Use your ears to listen to where they are at and what they are getting in to, instead of using your eyes. I have actually found that using my ears is more effective, because I am still watching my child from another room-I do not have to rely on sight to know what they might be getting into in the next room.
I feel that there is this misconception that in some way blind parenting is less than sighted parenting. That blind parents need more help than sighted ones, and that they are less of parents than sighted people are. It’s not true! We do things differently, but we are just as much parents as sighted parents are. And no matter where you go, kids are kids. They find boundaries and test their limits. We just need to find ways to enforce them, like every other parent in the world.
So maybe they were right when they told me that I was in for a world of trouble when my son understood that I couldn’t see him. But it doesn’t mean that I can’t teach my son that I know! A Parent always knows! And blindness does not change that!
This is me! Hope you enjoyed the read. I love questions, so if you
have any, or just a comment, feel free to email them to