Over a generation ago, Abie Rotenberg composed a song, “Who am I,” to be performed at a HASC concert. https://youtu.be/XBBX95G1nKU
In the song, he describes how a child with special needs is really very much the same as a typically developing child.
As I sit here the night before Rosh Hashana, I would posit that the parent of a child with special needs is not so different from the parent of a typically developing child. All parents have hopes and dreams for their children. When we stand before the Ribono Shel Olam on the Yom Hadin, we ask Hashem for a good year for ourselves and for the ones we love. We put our hopes and our dreams into our tefillot and daven that this year should be even better than the one that has passed.
Perhaps if you read the list of tefillot below, you will find a few that don’t fit your particular circumstance. However, perhaps the majority will resonate as exactly what we would want from our Avinu Malkeinu.
Please Hashem, for the coming year I daven that:
My child should wake up happy and want to go to school.
My child should be able to get dressed themselves.
My child should make appropriate clothing choices.
My daughter should feel comfortable “in her own skin.”
My child should keep proper hygiene.
My child should be able to clean themselves when going to the restroom.
My child should remember to flush.
My child should remember to wash hands.
My child should know how much toothpaste is enough.
My child should feel safe on the bus and not intimidated.
My child should make good food choices.
My child should daven each day.
My son should be able to put on tefillin by himself.
My child should learn Torah each day.
My child should want to learn Torah each day.
My child should find school stimulating.
My child should be kind and respectful to adults and peers alike.
My child should have friends.
My child should have a good day, every day, both physically and emotionally.
My child should appreciate that they are Jewish.
My child should have good values.
My child should be able to feel safe talking to me.
My child should know how to talk appropriately to people.
My child should be able to make conversation.
My child should be able to talk coherently.
My child should know the difference between right and wrong.
My child should go to sleep with a smile on their face and Shema on their lips.
I should accept who my child is exactly as they are.
I should thank Hashem, every day, for giving me my child.
I should have the emotional strength to accept Hashem’s will.
I should remember that if You brought me to it, then You will help me through it.
Thank you for the gift of life, Hashem. I daven that I have a year of living up to Your expectations.
Gmar chatima tova.
Rabbi Yehuda Minchenberg is a rebbe at Yeshivat Noam.