Sunday, September 20, 2015

My little boy

I have a little boy, and on the weekends at our house his eyes sparkle.

We say he's spunky and energetic and joyful.

We see that wants to learn and will read voraciously about whatever interests him.

He makes the best stories while we're doing housework and will talk on and on to any adult about the fascinating things he's read.

We admire his passion and drive.

We love how quirky he is and adore the things that make him unique.

We always tell him how much we love him, our little guy.

I have a little boy, and on school days we watch his eyes dull.

His teachers say that he's too active and distracting.

They see that he refuses to care about the topic at hand.

He makes up stories when he should be doing schoolwork and will chatter on inappropriately about irrelevant topics.

They are frustrated by his high emotions and narrow focus.

They sigh about how atypical he is, and they try to correct the things that make him strange.

They always tell him to sit and be still, their little problem child.

I don't want to give him back to them on Monday.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Jealous

This afternoon was unpleasant.

In the building where I work we're all kind of crammed in together, and I share a space with a few other people. I overheard one of my co-workers talking on the phone, helping out a teacher who happened to work at my son's school. This teacher was really concerned about a student of hers and they were talking about the best way to help the kid out.

The whole time I was aching with jealousy. Why couldn't someone be concerned about my kid?

What was so wrong with my kid that people aren't worried about him? I understand that he has challenging behavior sometimes and he doesn't fit into the normal classroom mold. He also can't be slotted into the various Special Education options because, guess what, he's exceptional without being Special Ed. And yet, as much of a pain as it is for the teachers, it's more painful for him.

You have no idea how much it would mean to have someone there do something on his behalf. To look at him and see a kid worth helping instead of a mom worth placating. To realize he's someone special instead of someone weird. I know his teacher has thirty kids to look after, but I wish she could spare some thought and compassion on mine.

This week I'm meeting with the school staff to discuss a learning plan for him. I'm hoping that I'm proven wrong and that there will be wonderful things thoughtfully put in place for him. I hate being jealous.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Satisfied

Once when P was a little baby I fed him and he fell asleep. He looked so happy and I realized that every single want and need was met. He was fed, warm, safe, and loved. I felt a little bit sad because I knew that as he grew his wants and needs would become more complex, and I might never be able to make him so completely content again.

Tonight, a little over seven years later, P asked if he could have a snack while he read in bed, and I let him have an apple. I offered to put it on his bed for him so he wouldn't have to climb up his bunk bed ladder while he held it, and I got to see him scramble into bed and curl up, almost laughing with joy at being able to snuggle into bed with a book and a snack, fed, warm, safe, and loved once again. His mind has become so much more complex, but for now, a snack and a book satisfies it.

I'm so happy I have more of these opportunities to make him happy.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Best Summer Ever

Yesterday we had a department-wide meeting for the department I work for. One odd thing about working in the district that my kids attend in is that there is some overlap between my mom-life and my professional life. I email my kids' teachers from my work account because I can search for their emails in the district directory. I grouse about the new computer system with my kids' teachers at parent-teacher conferences. And yesterday I saw the speech pathologist who evaluated my son for autism, and helped discover that he was gifted.

She asked how his school year was going, and how his summer was. To be honest, it was probably one of the best summers of his life. For the first time we let go of what he "should" be doing - the daily park visits, pool excursions, and tearing around the yard that kids his age usually crave. Instead, we followed the interests of all three kids. We spent so much time in museums and libraries this summer. I also insisted that the kids get outside to get exercise, but for us that walks around the neighborhood or hikes in the woods rather than tearing around a playground. We did spend some playground time and sometimes the kids got into it once we were there, but if they didn't, that's okay.

This summer P was so much happier than he'd been in a long time. And we found that his sensory seeking behaviors and tantrums decreased. Meanwhile he was more outgoing, flexible, and willing to try new things. He blossomed because he was finally spending his days doing what made him happy.

People talk about nurturing their child's gifts. I suppose we should too, for all three of our children. But right now we're just concentrating on making our kids happy. And for all three of our kids that means the voracious consumption of information. Tonight I was sitting with the kids at dinner and asked them what they wanted to do tomorrow (Sunday) and the toddler threw her arms into the air and said, "Moo-see-um!" Both her siblings chimed in with, "Yeah, museum!"

We're not being pushy, we're making them happy.