I am constantly wondering how hard to push. How far is too far? Am I being too hard on him? Do I need to presume competence and have faith that he can do it?
Sometimes I think I forget that I am just a mom, I am not ALWAYS a crusader. He is my baby. My youngest. Part of me wants him to stay my innocent little sweet cherubic faced angel forever. Those peaceful moments when he looks at me with this GIANT blue eyes and says with arms outstretched, “HUG.”Not a request just a statement that he knows I will never be able to say no to. I will never deny my boy a hug. I don’t want those to end. If I push him, those will turn back into battles. I really don’t like the battles. The battles are hard. The hugs are easy… I like the hugs. Can I please just keep with the hugs?
You know, that I know, the answer to that. I will never be able to deny him that hug…. but then why do I deny him the advantage of learning? Knowledge is power, right? The gaining of self discipline and acceptance. The self sufficiency to reach his highest potential that so many “experts” say he will attain some day. Am I denying him? The constant contemplation never ends.
I think this is a constant battle inside the brain of a lot of parents. But my Steve…. lately … it seems as though the “peace” has outweighed the push for him to try harder. He will never push himself. This I have learned. With everything since he was a baby, he would just go at his own pace unless he was pushed. If it were up to Steve, he’d STILL be in diapers.
If you ever ask Steve something like, “Steve, don’t you want to learn how to swim in the pool like a big boy with no life jacket?” He’d say, “Naw… I’m good.” “Steve, if you learn how to write sentences maybe YOU could write a book like Captain Underpants someday.” With those blue eyes he just looks up then says, “No thanks.” “Steve, do you care what grade you get in class? What about college, you may want to attend?” “What’s a grade?” Does he understand the concept? Is he being, as so many observers call it… difficult? Does he just not want to put down his screen to hear me?
Then I do this… what I’m doing now. Sit back and think about it. Do I push him to learn how to swim? He seems fine in a life jacket. I toss and I turn night after night. What is right, what is wrong. Why do I want him to learn? Do I want him to learn for his own safety or do I want him to learn because that way he’s not the only kid in camp with a life jacket? We live in California. There are pools everywhere. Play dates, birthday parties, grandparents houses. What if he falls in? Nope, that’s it… he need to learn how to swim for his own safety. He does NOT need to become the next Michael Phelps. Ok. There, its done… I made the decision.
Once I decide it is time to push him… I usually find… HE ASTONISHES ME. He does it. Whatever it is. He can do it. Then I feel like the biggest idiot for not pushing him sooner and I take out my whip and think of all the time he’s wasted NOT going down the watersides at the park that he loves to do now that he’s learned how to swim.
All that said…. here I am again.. wondering… wondering if it is time to push him again. This time it is his academics.
He is in a special day class geared for kids who have the ability to learn but have behavioral troubles hindering their learning. He spends part of his day in general ed (as many of you know, I call this “gen pop”). Has he outgrown the special day class? I know the first rule of having a child with special needs is you never compare them to other children with special needs. Each case is different, especially with regards to autism. But we do. We compare. No matter how hard it is not to, we do it, we are human. Are some of the needs of the other kids actually holding my kid back? Are the behaviors of some of the less advanced kids translating over to my kid? While I do not see a regression, the growth I expected to see at this point isn’t there. Have I expected to much? Am I crazy? Or is is simply, time to push.
I think it is…. so bear with me as I gear up for the fights, the tantrums, the endless talks about how he can do it even when he thinks he can’t. The conversations about how much I believe in him. How I think he will surprise himself. But wait.. that triggers another thought in me… does he ever surprise himself? Not really… That’s one of these things about Steve. Call it the autism, call it low self-esteem, call it whatever you want but that drive, any drive just isn’t there. Honestly, Steve… he could care less where he ends up. He just moves in the direction you point him. So why not point him toward success.
So I go back to the list… from 2 years ago… The list has two sides to it. One side is entitled NON-PREFERRED ACTIVITY. The other side is labeled PREFERRED ACTIVITY. What are the non-preferred things I am asking Steve to do? His homework. Ok. Homework goes on the list. Then what of his favorite things (preferred activity) will we have time to let him do if he does his non-preferred activity of homework. Does the homework simply have to be done? Or does it have to be done in a certain number of minutes? Or within a certain number of minutes with a minimum level of accuracy (aka: not sloppy or as I would say in MY language.. .not half-assed!).
I go on and on making the list is it one thing – is it 5?
Ok… all set and ready to do. Rewards at the ready I am ready to start pushing…. because we all know, this falls on MOM.
#PrayForMe #PrayForSteve #KidsAreHard #RewardsAreEndless #WaitIsntThisWhatALLParentsHaveToDo #SpecialNotSpecial