Namine went with her cousin to her gymnastics class. As she was watching her cousin, Namine said to me:
“If my legs were stronger — if I could stand without my walker, if my left knee could bend, if I could jump all on my own — I think I would like to be in a gymnastics class. I think I would like that a lot, if I were stronger.”
I felt as though my heart had been shattered. Namine had given voice to the secret thoughts of every special needs parent: the wish that their child didn’t have to live with the hardships they were born with. How many times have Jessica and I had the same wish?
One question often posed to special needs parents is a hard one: Would you change your child, if you could? For us, the answer is simple.
We are all more than a sum of our parts, and that is especially true of our daughter. The difficulties she’s faced have shaped her personality, her internal strength, her determination. We love our Namine with all our hearts, just as she is.
But what we think of Namine is of lesser importance than what she thinks of herself. It is she herself that will push forward or give up. And for her part, her determination is stronger than ever. She constantly draws comparisons between herself and other, able-bodied children, especially in her dance class. It has never discouraged her for long, instead serving to strengthen her resolve and inspire her to work even harder.