Yesterday we had the joy of bringing my 7 year old son to get his first round of braces. He is, I admit, my hardest child. We don’t relate as well, I don’t understand what he wants or what drives him on a regular basis and he is a Pro at getting me to loose my temper. So as he lay there with his mouth pulled open, allowing the dental assistant to cement brackets into his mouth, his foot began to twitch. I stood, knowing she wasn’t noticing his movements, and touched him. His eyes moved to me and I saw deeply veiled panic. I knew she wasn’t seeing it. He is a good hider of emotions even from me. I reassured him for a moment and his foot stopped moving, so I sat down. Only to find myself back up, trying to keep him calm. He did not however through all this time move anything but his feet, the rest of him laying perfectly still.
I had just watched a video from a friend on Facebook about gratitude and how it makes us happy, So I looked at his son of mine and tried to be grateful, find his strengths. He is big, the size of a child a few years his senior. But he is not mean, most of the time. He does not have as many words as children his age, but his smile knocks it out of the ballpark and he has an infectious laugh. He is behind in his studies, but he learns well. To me he is a really big three year old. He tantrums like them because he can’t find the words, but that shouldn’t get under my skin because I would be annoyed saddled with a disobedient body. Mostly he wants to be treated like a three year old, and frankly so do I some days, and he gets frustrated when I hold him to a higher expectation. He is a great kid.
So strengths. When dealing with a special needs child, or a special needs adult, for me the answer has been, play to their strengths. If they are autistic and need their toy to emotionally stabilize them, bring it, include it. If they are narcoleptic and they have an episode, still talk to them, include them even when they seem asleep, they’re listening. If they have RAD and couldn’t seem to care less about you, don’t falter in loving them for no returns, let them lead in a constructive way, they are pro at getting people to move. See the great things in them, See the superpower behind the different ability. And look for gratitude. There is something they rock at, there is something you, and me, can be better at seeing in them.
Forgive yourself for the days you suck. Seriously. Let them go.
And write. I know strange advice from me, but if you pick up a pen and tell it how it feels to be you, it will help. If you pick up an computer and tell me how it feels to be your child, I will try to post it. I am grateful for other parents who stick to hard battles, see good in hard to reach spots, and keep their child up after a bad day.