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The Unforgettable Thing My Husband Said About Our Child With Special Needs

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As we rode the tram at the zoo, my husband, Brett, had a conversation with the cute 6-year-old boy sitting next to him. Brett said one simple sentence I can’t stop thinking about.

Our daughter, Hope, spotted a peacock and said, “Look a peacock!” She gets really excited when she sees a peacock. A little while later the tram traveled up a hill and Hope spotted another peacock. She said, “Two peacocks!”


The little boy next to Brett said, “Where’s the second peacock?” I wasn’t able to see the little boy’s face since I was sitting in front of him. He probably had a puzzled look because he was thinking, Why’s she seeing two peacocks? I only see one.

Brett said, “There’s only one.”

The little boy sweetly asked, “She doesn’t know how to count?”

Brett said, “She knows how to count. She just does it different than you do. She’s counting the peacock that she saw earlier and this one.”

She just does it different than you do. That’s the sentence that I can’t stop thinking about. I love that sentence. That’s the sentence I always want to remember when we’re living life with our girls. They aren’t doing it wrong. They’re just doing it different. The little boy saw one peacock. Most of us would’ve seen one peacock. Hope was still thinking about the first peacock, and then she saw another peacock. One peacock plus one peacock equals two peacocks. She was right. There were two peacocks.

I wish everyone could see Hope and our other daughter, Mikayla, through their daddy’s eyes. They would realize our girls just do it different. Different means they sometimes do it slower than we do it. It also means they sometimes do it faster than we do it. Different can mean she stands on her head to watch TV while we’re sitting on the couch. Or their pants feel funny while our pants feel fine. Different means she’s holding her ears and we have no idea why. Different means she didn’t answer a question because she didn’t understand it. Or she can spin and she never gets dizzy.

Our world is full of different. Different isn’t wrong. It’s just different. Our family may look much different than other families. If you see me straightening Mikayla’s pants, just remember her world feels different than your world. If you see Hope holding her ears when she walks past a waterfall, just remember her world sounds different than your world. If you run into us at Walmart, you’ll hear our girls talking about the balloons on the ceiling. I didn’t know balloons often float up to the ceiling in Walmart. I have only two things on my mind when I go into Walmart. Get what’s on my list and get out. I never spend time looking at the ceiling.

But our girls are different. They notice everything around them. There’s a world around me I don’t take the time to look at. But our girls have all the time in the world to look at their world.

Yes, our girls just do it different. And I want to do it different, too.

Follow this journey on Two Upside Down Turtles.

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Originally published: July 17, 2015
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