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A Family's Uprooting and a Pleasant Surprise

July 29, 2011 | Maria Xia

 "Having a family means constructing an equation," writes Lisa Belkin on the New York Times' Motherlode blog. "Every choice, each conclusion, means shuffling all the factors, deciding how much weight to give to each." Parents of children with special needs are most aware of that balancing act, the child becoming the major player in each equation, the reason for a family's compromises and sacrifices. Right?

Apparently, not always. In the guest post, Lydia Denworth surprises us with the story of her family's move to China, and what that meant for her first grade son, Alex. He is almost entirely deaf, and his family calls upon a vast network of caregivers to support him. Denworth herself stopped working for several years to focus on him, and the family gave up on quite a few dreams of how they might live.

So when Denworth's husband suggested moving to Hong Kong, she thought immediately of Alex. Will the schools have teachers for him? Can the kids stand the shock of relocation? But she was "floored" by Alex's response. When he heard the news, he exclaimed that they were the best parents ever. "I want to see the Great Wall. I want to learn Mandarin," he said. I'll even try some Chinese food."

This is an inspiring story of the resilience of children — even those we treat with special attention-and the ways in which parenting can be a forgiving as well as a demanding activity. All parents want more for their children, and for Denworth this was a reminder that all along their efforts were aimed at letting Alex "exist in as wide a world as possible." Sometimes it's prudent to step lightly when it comes to surprises, to err on the side of safety and routine. But occasionally—and happily—our children show how much they want to grow up, and surprise us with the gifts. 

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