Welcome to Holland by Emily Perl Kingsley

When you are going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation to Italy.  You buy a bunch of guide books and make all your wonderful plans: the Coliseum, Michelangelo's David, the gondolas in Venice.  You may even 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.  The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland ?!?"  you say.  "What do you mean Holland?  I signed up for Italy!  I'm supposed to be in Italy.  All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy"

But there has been a change in the flight plan.  They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease.  It's just a different place.

So you go out and buy new guide books.  And you learn a whole new language.  And you meet a whole group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy.  But after you've been there awhile and you catch your breath, you look around and begin to notice Holland has windmills- and Holland has tulips.  Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone one you know is busy coming and going from Italy...and they are all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there.  And for the rest of your life, you will say, "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go.  That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.

But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, and very lovely things about Holland.

Lilt Lilt
57 Responses Mar 13, 2009

Very inspiring. You have to love them, care for them as they are♡☆♡☆♡

This is a hard one for me, although I live in the present day (most of the time) there is part of my heart that will always feel broken over the lack of hugs I could give my son. (he has Asperger's syndrome) diagnosed @ age 3. He's turning 14 on the 21st. He didn't want to be held or hugged. Today he'll tolerate hugs. But you can't go backwards. It will always just be something that was missed.

I'm sure it has been a challenging journey, Invisible. Living in the present is good advice for anyone. Happy birthday to you and your son. What gift is he asking for?

He loves plush toys. Whales, Dolphins. Now he's asked for a Shark one.
That is doable. ^ ^ Thanks for your kind words. It has been and eye opening, incredible journey.

A shark! That is very doable. I wish you both lots of magic this holiday season.

I love this poem, I was introduced to it about a year and a half ago when I learned that at the time 9month old had an inoperable brain tumor and global developmental disabilities.......I cried and thought to myself I didn't sign up for this, I don't want a special needs child.....then the guilt set in for thinking that...but the truth is no one wishes for a special needs child ask any pregnant woman what she wants and they say a healthy baby.......then I was given this poem and it was so freeing...what I was feeling was normal .......my son just turned 2 last week and he wasn't suppose to live to his first birthday...I won't forget the day the doctors had "the talk" with us about him dying....well they were mistaken.......he wasn't suppose to sit unsupported, or crawl, or pull to stand or walk.....well he sits just fine, he crawls faster then any of my other children ever had, he pulls to stand and last week he got a pony walker and for the first time even though it is with support he walked down our street.....of course I took picture and posted them on fb.......but I love my Holland and can imagine ever wanting to change it to see Italy now......my son is the happiest little boy even though he has all is challenges he is the strongest person I have ever met.....what a fighter........his name is Caleb and he is my hero.

Roe, your story brought me tears of joy. Caleb is indeed a hero. I cannot imagine the excitement you must feel with all of his accomplishments. I bet your friends and family were thrilled to see him take a walk down your street. :-D

I posted "Holland" a few years ago and I am so glad I did. Strong, loving parents have shared their triumphs here and have been an inspiration to many. Thank you for sharing Caleb's story. It sounds like he has many surprises in store for you!

As a parent of two kids with special needs, I weep every time I read it, and I read it every time I feel down and think I can't handle it anymore. Thank you for sharing!!!

Those two angels picked you for a reason. :-)

i found this poem when my special needs son was born i bawled..bt today i can say i love Holland!

I wish you much peace and joy on your journey, Inferis.

I am the father of two special needs children, and I have to be honest... This made me weep. Thank you for putting it so succinctly.

Not my beautiful words...Emily Perl Kingsley. <br />
I think her words are divine. <br />
<br />
I do not have a special needs child, but have worked with many. I have witnessed much sadness, joy, and determination with the families I have worked with. I am just in awe.<br />
<br />
I am so glad you enjoyed the read.

I care for a special needs adult. I have tulips too. :)

I just love the way you put this. So beautiful. :)

Always smile at a child. <br />
It might be the best thing that happens to them all day.

Yes, there might not always be tulips. But there are snails, butterflies, worms, and little trickles of water running through dirt. All worthy of our time and attention. Life is good.

Enjoy the trip that life puts you on. At least there are tulips.

Oh my gosh! How weird that you commented on this old post, Crafty. I truly believe things happen for a reason. In just a couple of hours, I am talking to a group of teachers about incorporating special kids into our program! I think I will print out Kingsley's story and read it at the meeting. Thanks!<br />
<br />
I'm so glad you had fun with your friend growing up. Kids are kids.

Loved the post Lilt. My parents' best friends had a daughter with special needs, so we grew up with her. We knew she was different to us, but I still have no idea what the diagnosis was. She was simply an important, accepted, fun part of our little group. She had to fed, she'd drink out of a baby cup with a spout, but it had to be held for her, she dribbled, so we'd take it in turns to tend to her. She laughed, with a rumble starting in her tummy that just rolled out in waves and crashes and tinkles, and it was the most infectious, wonderful sound! She "took part" in all our games, getting so excited and bopping in her wheelchair while she made her funny little squeaks and squeals, and waved her hands around. If we played ball, we'd throw it into her lap so she'd be part of our game. She'd concentrate so hard as her hands were held on either side of the ball and "thrown" back into the game. She had a permanent grin on her face that made her incredibly beautiful. She was an incredible listener, and we all told her our secrets. She'd laugh at the dumbest jokes and make us feel like giants. We loved her so much.

Kingsley's piece means so many things to everyone.<br />
I'm glad you enjoy the tulips with Ben, Betty.<br />
First, they are children.

I am so moved by all of your stories.<br />
Pedrovoter, I do not have a child with special needs. I know that what the group is, I thought this would be a good place for this essay.<br />
<br />
I have worked with many special kids and their families. They have inspired and changed my life in so many ways.

I just happened upon this post today too Lilt...and I'm so glad I did. I have worked with special needs kids and people have heaped unnecessary praise on me for this...every single day I spent teaching was a gift to me...I learned there is such a special way of viewing the world that if we're open to it we can see differently and our worlds can change. Thanks for this post!

HEY I ALSO BOOKED THAT FLIGHT , Mine flight was NOS POD> with sensory... Only I didnt know I was going on a trip untill the first year. it was a call to report at the last minunte.. I knew I was going to get the call to go but... still was in denial. But when it came it was devastaing. But I still got on.. and things became very very hard to see... It was rain.. or tears .. I cried alot... so I am not sure... But yeah then the captian came and told me that ... I too was not going to Italy.. and Holland .. but I could tell that I may be able to figure out the language.. and I got the language... and I got a lot of things. the down side is that none of my in law family can handle it in Holland.. and no matter what we say.. people who have never been there are scared and dont know if they can handle it . its like getting in a cold pool.. once you get used to it its okay.

Perfection is an unattainable goal. <br />
It's one thing to expect it for yourself, but I'm surprised how many people demand it from others.<br />
<br />
A little girl in one of my classes was extremely worried she wouldn't finish her drawing in time. Of course I told her it would be ok. But no, she said her Mom would be really mad if it wasn't done. :(

: -- (

Thanks for posting this Lilt ......

Love this story!<br />
<br />
Life is so precious and flies by so quickly<br />
<br />
If only we could use all our energy on appreciation and enjoying the best of life whilst we can

Life takes you places, sometimes places you never thought you would be.<br />
But there you are anyway. Now what?

Lindsey. I cannot take credit for this post.<br />
<br />
This is only about the kids and families I have worked with.

Thats an amazing way to put this. :]<br />
<br />
it made me think, great job, not many things make me think. ;)'<br />
<br />

I just had to revisit this Lilt.. thanks again for the reminder that Holland really is a beautiful place.<br />
<br />
Love you lady!

Yep.<br />
Kids..unique and special.<br />
Even when you want to banish them to another country!!!<br />
It ain't always pretty.

They challenge me often, all three, but they are very independent and creative and the air that I breathe.

Dancing trees are most definitely worth your time.<br />
What a righteous dude for pointing them out, MSP.

My son is a special needs child as well and I cherish every moment, every step forward. He shows us things we might not normally see... like when the wind was blowing the other day "mommy look at those trees dancing". It's still Italy darlin' and you are still seeing all those wonderful things and places just via a different path is all. <br />
<br />
xoxo<br />

I am glad you enjoyed the story, ladies.<br />
Holland has tulips for heaven's sake !!<br />
And all children are beautiful.

And sometimes that can be a blessing.

You bet, d.<br />
As you well know, life doesn't always work out as we planned.

I love kids. All kids.<br />
And children with special needs, <br />
are kids first and should be treated as such.

I'd rather go to Holland anyway.

This is the coolest analogy I can remember reading. Ups.

Sheesh, I'm late on this but I agree with everybody. Perfect analogy and probably the most beautiful way to describe the thought.

I can't think of a more fitting analogy. Again, I thank you Lilt. it came at just the right time for me last week... <br />
<br />

This was written by a parent describing what life is like with a special child, but I think it is relative to anyone's life. We get dealt a bad hand or things we work toward fall through...but it is not an end. It's just time to change the plan of action.

Hey! I like that!

Thank you, Arsineh. The essay has always meant a lot to me and many of the families I have worked with. They have inspired my life in ways I could never have imagined.

Thank you for sharing your story with us through this beautiful comparison.

I makes me teary too. I do not have a child with special needs, but have worked with many of these families. They are my heroes.

I have no jokes about town names, but if I hadn't just woken up that story would have made me cry. As it stands I am too dehydrated to have tears. Thanks for sharing it Lilt

ROFL @ AlDent being from ABNORMAL.... I just caught that.

A Normalian you are Lilt.<br />
<br />
:: chuckles ::

Al, it's all good.<br />
That was the intent of the story. :)

Normalite , pussycat. <br />
That was even the name of our newspaper.

LOL Does that make you a Normalite or is it Normalese? :)

I LOVE silly town names. Guess where I was born, Drew?<br />

LOL to Podunk and Lickskillet. <BR><BR>In Tennessee we have BUCKSNORT... How would you like to have that zip code.. This citygirl isn't living anywhere near a place with the word SNORT in it.<BR><BR>HAHA *snort*snort*

I see.<br />
I did type it all out...I don't know how to do that pasting thing :/

Yeah, I know. I found out at the very end. That's why I put my gushing accolades in parentheses.

I didn't write it, woman!

This is so great. It can be applied to so much of life and I think you picked just the right group to post it in.<br />
(I was reading this thinking, "Darn, that Lilt is sooo profound! Wow, she is goood!")

~ tip toe thru the tulips ~ <br />
<br />
made me think of Tiny Tim HAHA<br />
Thanks again!!

Drew, your story today made me think of this.<br />
Enjoy the tulips.

Oh Lilt and Elagarto- HOW BEAUTIFUL. You don't know how much I needed to here these words. <br />
<br />
You are my soul mates.<br />
Thank you.

I lived in Amsterdam for many years, IMHO it is the most beautiful city in the world. The Dutch are arguably the nicest, and most civilized, people in the world. -- One day I booked passage to Holland and ended up in Palestine - thanks to Bipolar Air. It wasn't the holiday I expected, what with all the hatred and bullets and such. But today I feel badly for people who have never spent their holiday in a war zone, they know so much less about life than I do. Immerse yourself in where you are, embrace it, and you cannot go wrong. Let others go on their bourgeois, predictable vacations.