Welcome to Italy
The essay does a good job of pointing out that the issue is one of expectations and that different is not necessarily worse. Still, it doesn't go far enough because it takes for granted the existence of vastly different expectations for people who are sorted into various social groups, instead of challenging those expectations as the artificial, prejudiced, stereotyped cultural constraints they are.
So I've written my own essay describing how an autistic parent might react to having a child with unexpected needs. (Note: this parody does not reflect my actual opinion of non-autistic children. It's meant to illustrate why people would be better off if they did not go into parenthood with any particular set of expectations.)
WELCOME TO ITALY
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a constant need for socializing—to 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 restful vacation trip to Holland. You do some Internet research on the history of windmills and other fascinating topics, and you make your plans. Quiet, leisurely art museum visits. Peaceful walks through tulip fields. Painting windmills in a pastoral landscape. Maybe you'll read train timetables in Dutch. 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 Italy."
"Italy?!?" you say. "What do you mean Italy?? I signed up for Holland! I'm supposed to be in Holland. For years, I've perseverated on going to Holland."
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Italy and there you must stay.
The important thing, you tell yourself, is that Italy is not a horrible place, even if it's full of chattering crowds and soccer hooligans. It's just a different place.
So you must do more research. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met... and a lot more of them than you might have wanted to meet... and they'll be calling your home phone at all hours of the day and night, wanting to talk to your child...
But it's just a different place. It's noisier than Holland, less comfortable than Holland. After you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Italy has pretty gardens and museums, too, even if they're always full of yammering tourists.
Your friends are sending you e-mails from Holland, with attached photos, and telling you how much they enjoyed the quiet tulip gardens and the windmill tours. You know that they're just sharing their experiences and don't mean to be unkind, and you try not to let it bother you, but you always find yourself saying, "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned." And that feeling of loss will never go away.
But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Holland, you may never learn to appreciate the joys of stadium crowds stomping their feet on metal bleachers, birthday parties with dozens of giggling adolescents, celebrity magazines strewn all over your floor, and boom boxes blaring popular songs with totally unintelligible lyrics... in Italy.