Welcome to New York

Yellow Readis: Welcome to New York*

This is a bit of an odd post, and it starts with a wonderful piece of writing by
Emily Pearl Kingsley called “Welcome to Holland”. (And there are also a number of other awesome parodies as well … )

It’s magical, it’s moving, and for many parents with neuro-atypical kids it helps. It did with me.

And yet, for profoundly gifted and 2e kids, it’s not – quite – right. So I have penned a (hopefully) humorous variation. My apologies to Emily in advance.

How to describe the experience of raising a profoundly gifted child?

We’ll start with Emily’s words, which can’t be beaten:

[T]o try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands.”

As you exit the plane, a giant sign is blazened across the entrance to the terminal “Welcome to New York!”

As you stare bemused at the sign, your brain is going, “Huh? Isn’t this supposed to be Italy? What am I doing here?” No one else seems to get your confusion.

No one in the airport quite understands what’s wrong. After all, who’d want to go to Italy when you could go to New York?

“But I was planning for Italy. I have all the guide books…what do I do now?”

So you head out into the city. It’s noisy. It’s fast. No one seems to be able or even to want to help you. “Isn’t it fabulous?” Friends say when you call them in a panic, “You get to see Broadway! The Empire States Building! Times Square! And even climb the Statue of Liberty, who wouldn’t want that?” You nod politely, and aren’t quite sure how to bring up that you don’t feel safe on the subway …and you can’t sleep at night cause the city’s never quiet, never sleeps.

It’s always on. And it’s amazing and it’s cool, and it’s amazing and it’s cool, and it’s amazing and it’s cool, and it’s amazing and it’s cool…and you can’t escape.

You are stuck here.

When you try to mention how the smog is getting to you, your friends in Italy say “What are you talking about? You’re in the big Apple baby! What I wouldn’t do to be there…” And as much as you love it, a little bit of you still mourns the thought of a quiet afternoon at an Italian villa sipping wine, or knowing you won’t get mugged if you turn down the wrong street…

And the glossy tourist brochures you picked up at the airport never seem to get it right – sometimes it’s a straight run passed 42nd street, and sometimes you’re gridlocked – but it’s never where or when the glossy tourist brochures say it will happen. It’s a crazy mixed up, upside-down city.

So you look around for real guide books to help you learn this new landscape. But no one seems to have written any, or at least, you can’t get them at the bookstores, or the libraries… until eventually you stumble upon other weary travellers who are here too. Who feel just as lost. Who feel just as alone. Finally you feel someone understands…

It’s not where you expected to go. And the pace is almost too fast to comprehend – you’re stuck on the Verrazzano–Narrows Bridge in the middle of the night, and the accelerator’s down full. So open your eyes, hold on tight, enjoy the ride, and hope like blazes you don’t crash…

After all, New York’s a wonderful place.

*image modified from terabass at Wikimedia under a GNU Free Documentation Licence

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