Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Confessions and Conversational Speech

Confession time, once again.

In the last few weeks, we've had a blizzard, winter break, and two colds, one for each kid.

Our vacuum has been away for repairs for two weeks, there's dust everywhere from the plaster we used to patch the area in the living room that had leakage from the snow on the roof from afore-mentioned blizzard, and the kids (particularly Ethan) have had much more than the appropriate amount of "screen time."

Ha, how I used to judge! I used to leisurely stroll the aisles at the supermarket and scoff at the mom seething at her child through clenched teeth. Even after Anna was born, I felt as if life with kids was so manageable, or easily managed. She had her half-hour of Sesame Street, and then we were on to more engaging pursuits.

When Anna was about five and Ethan was two, in the midst of his year of therapy sessions, every day seemed like a mad dash of driving here or there and ringing doorbells and getting Anna settled in school. There was barely time to breathe, never mind vegetate on the couch.

The year after that I was so used to running around and having Ethan in therapy that our lives continued to resemble one long therapy session. Free time in the afternoon or on snow or vacation days from school meant play sessions and productive, creative activities like crafts with shaving cream and glue (about as complicated as I get) and obstacle courses and puppet shows.

Then, after awhile, Mamma got burnt out.

Here I go talking about the developmental pediatrician again, but last year when Ethan had his appointment, I was talking about how I had tried and tried to get Ethan to play "appropriately," and that I worried that he seemed to want to spend so much time on the computer or watching TV. She shocked me by replying, "He may need more time than the average kid doing things like that. That's okay. That's how he'll pick up ideas."

And so, little by little, I began to let go of our lives looking like something out of Family Fun magazine, or like the autism therapy websites I'd been pouring over.

Does this mean I never do anything creative with my kids, that I cop out all of the time and let them take the lazy way out with entertainment? Nah. Anna and I made block houses for her My Little Ponies the other day. And Ethan and I have been engaging in some fun Ninja fights. I'm talking about letting go of the pressure. You know? The pressure of being the perfect mom. The pressure of feeling like I have to do everything a certain way or I'm going to irreparably damage my children.

This is the shocking thing. Call it coincidence, and it may well be. But: okay, I'll come right out with it. Let's just say Ethan's time playing Angry Birds Star Wars and Dinosaur Train and ninja computer games has measured closer to hours rather than minutes lately. And yet, when he's not doing those things, I've noticed a burst of language, or conversational speech, and even some creativity.

"Mamma, come here, I have a problem..."

"Daddy, I have some bad news..."

(Hands over eyes in circles) "These are not binocular eyes, they are my seeing eyes!" ...

"Daddy is going to be so happy when he sees I picked up all of these puzzles..."

(Noticing a puzzle piece is missing) "Oh no, Cookie Monster's mouth is missing. Now he can't eat..."

(Picking up two My Little Ponies) "You be this pony and I will be that one and let's make them play together..."

These would be little things except to those who are around Ethan all the time and notice the difference.

So, does that mean I have a free pass and can let Ethan devour as many computer games as he wishes? Of course not, but it reminds me once again of several truths:

I don't have to do it all.

My kid is wired differently, and the conventional wisdom out there might not always work or be true for him.

And most of all --


1 comment:

Alana Terry said...

I used to be up tight and judgmental about the "right" way to parent and then when I became a special needs mom all that changed. I guess it's good we've learned to be flexible. Good luck to you!