It’s not very often that I read something that strikes me as so powerful that I have to put the book down and think about it. I can’t NOT think about it. And if , when thinking about it, it ties in with so many different perspectives, then I know it really must be powerful.
That’s how I felt after reading the first part of the book “Thus I Have Heard” by Jacob Raz (in Hebrew). This is the part that is about the birth of his child who has special needs.
Raz begins in a shocking manner,which becomes clear as you continue to read. He writes that his son came to him from his own death. Death and childbirth seem such a contradiction!
But actually, it is a double death. Something I never thought of before now makes perfect sense.
Raz writes how when the doctors lined up to tell him all the details of his son’s condition, and all the things the child was not going to be, he keenly felt the loss of the child he had imagined he would have. The one he had visualised growing up many a time, doing certain things, having a certain future.
Now the doctors had visualised a different child for him. Someone with a different future mapped out.
But Raz managed to do an incredible thing. He convinced himself that not only must his original imagined version of the child he thought he would have, disappear and “die”, the visualised child with the future his doctors had mapped out, must “die” as well.
Because he won’t be raising any of those children. He was going to get to know and raise the child he had, the one in front of him.
While Raz is writing about a situation, thankfully, that many parents do not experience, I believe his approach is nonetheless very true for every parent.
I believe that all parents have fantasies, thoughts and visualisations of what their child will be like. You don’t have to have a child with special needs to know that it never works out that way. Children are what they are and don’t have the characteristics, abilities and preferences we would like them to. We have to let go of that fantasy child in order to really see the child we have actually got.
To a lesser degree, it is the same in every classroom in the school system. You, the teacher, probably heard all about your student before the first lesson. Maybe you know that his brothers were excellent students and expect him to be one too, or that he is a troublemaker, or that she is an unmotivated student who doesn’t care about anything. We teachers must let go of the “student” created for us in the staff room. That image must “die” before we can really teach the student in front of us.
A powerful thought.