One day, hopefully many decades from now, I can picture myself rocking manically in an old folks' home (or mental asylum), still haunted by the sinking realisation that the the Wheels On The Bus may never stop going round and round. Or that the Grand Old Duke of York will never stop marching his troops to the top of the hill. Or that I will be Row, Row, Rowing My Boat gently down the stream until i'm clinically insane.
A child who is mentally 12-14 months old in a four-year-old's body is normal to us. But it's difficult for others to understand when his disabilities are - at first - invisible. Because he appears to them to be a typical four-year-old boy. I suppose, apart from the occasional what ifs, this is the hardest part. When other people get it, it's truly a real tonic.
When it comes to pass-remarkable comments to do with my parenting, I've tended to let them go in the past (okay, I'll admit I may have fetched my imaginary voodoo doll once or twice...). Let's be honest, pretty much all parents encounter them every so often, be it for giving in to a tantrum "too easily" or co-sleeping on a bad night.
We all wear labels from our past; some are easier to read than others. As parents we have an important role in shaping our children's character and bringing correction when it is needed. But as we do that, let's ensure that above all, what they hear loudly and clearly are positive words that will form their identity and build their character for years to come.
We are being misled to think Barbie is empowered because she's wearing shrubs, a suit, overall, uniform or geeky T-Shirt. But Barbie can't actively use her body to walk, jump, or, in fact, work. She was made to be an object we look at and kit out. What she wears when she's boarding a jet is more important than how fast she can fly it.
What I am reading more and more is that we basically have to walk on egg shells with our children for fear that we are going to forever damage their self image. I prefer to think that by telling Toby and soon his sister that they are all of the above things that they will believe me, they will know that they are loved and they will feel confident.