This post is meant to be sort of an expanded version of the comment I left over here at the Final Maze. I am a kid from Holland. I know that my Mom was very young when I was born, and I know that she wanted me very much, but I also know she expected me to be Italian, and there's been a grieving process around that.
See, babies, even brain damaged babies, are little bundles of potential, and the pediatrician who diagnosed me was floored by the fact that at 14 months old I was speaking and interacting, so when Mom asked for pamphlets or books on kids with CP she was told she couldn't have any- "because all of those are going to be about kids way worse than she will be." So Mom was kind of led to believe that though I was born in Holland I'd soon have a passport to Italy. And therapy, at least at first, looked like it was going to be that passport. Early physical and occupational therapy happens 3 times a week, and I had therapists who were well used to sobbing babies and didn't let that stop them from pushing me to do what they wanted me to do.
At three years old I had my first surgery, a muscle release to unbend my knobby knees and loosen my heelcords to stop my toe walking, and voila! All of a sudden my ticket to Italy seemed to be within reach: All I had to do was learn to walk! (One of the joys of being from Holland is being old enough to remember your mother's jubilant sobbing as you take your first steps)
But...maybe it was the wooden shoes... I still swayed like a ship in a gale and still fell. Often. It seemed to be enough for the people around me, though, and if I had never gone to school I might have lived my whole life in happy, funny-walking Holland.
I did turn five, though, and I did go to school, and I realised for the first time that most other people were from Italy. They didn’t know the words that were so commonplace in my world like “physio” and “walker” and “gait training” and what was more, they had *done* things that we did not do in Holland like cross the street alone and climb snowbanks and make it to the bathroom on time *all* the time. Italy started to look like a *very* cool place. Still, I comforted myself that there were cool things about Holland too, horseback riding lessons and games of Critter in the Candy among them, and...I hadn’t seen any *adults* in Holland, so surely we all must move to Italy at some magical age. I remember thinking that that age was eleven the summer I couldn’t get enough of the Full House tie in books. Stephanie Tanner could take a shower and mow the lawn. I didn’t have a lawn to mow, and didn’t care to, but a shower...
I turned eleven, and twelve, and sixteen, and still walked in a wild, crazy swaying pattern and crashed to the floor on a regular basis, and more and more I looked over the border into Italy and saw the kids I went to school with doing all their Italian things. It was hard to stare for too long, though, so I’d look around Holland... but most people I knew there didn’t venture to the border. I felt like I was in exile, not a citizen of either Italy or Holland.