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Mistakes I Have Made

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When Connor turned one, I remember beginning the transition from bottle to sippy cup, just like the parenting books recommended.  However, Connor had no interest in these new cups, and we spent hours, MONTHS, working on this transition.  He would angrily throw the sippy cup to the floor and yell “baaah, want bah!”  And I would pick up the cup and try again, over and over.  And the transition to solid food was much the same, a long, drawn-out process.

I worried a lot.  I was sure that I was doing something wrong, that I was lacking in the natural mothering instinct that most women have.  I worried about milestones and timelines, and feared that others would judge when we didn’t meet them.  I didn’t want my son to be judged.  I wanted to protect him, to shield him from others forming opinions about what he was, or wasn’t, doing.

So I pushed.  We kept working on the things we were supposed to be working on, according to the books.  But it didn’t seem to matter how much I pushed, Connor would get to the next step when he was darn good and ready, and not one single moment before that.

As this last week of summer camp has drawn to a close, I’ve been reflecting on what a great summer this has been, especially when compared to previous summer camp experiences.  There are different reasons for that:  Connor is older and a tad more mature; the medication regimen is different from last year, and includes a seizure med that helps with impulsivity; and the environment was a good fit for Connor.

During past summer breaks, we’ve enrolled Connor at the Y’s summer program, believing that it was important for him to be with “typical” peers.  We thought the more exposure he had with NT children, the more he would learn appropriate social interaction.  When he struggled through the summer, our frustration grew, and we continually tried to get staff to provide better, more individual support for him.

Last year, he attended the same adaptive camp he’s in this year, but he had a difficult time, and staff could not provide adequate support to meet his needs.  We finally had to move him to an even more “adaptive” camp, where he received more individual support and guidance.

So this year feels a little like hitting that next milestone, returning to the prior camp.  But much like getting him to transition to the sippy cup, per the typical timeline, things fell into place when HE was ready.  Not when WE wanted them to happen.

And therein lies the lesson.  Acceptance doesn’t just mean that you accept the diagnosis, it also means meeting your child where they are, instead of pushing them to jump ahead and meet you where you want them to be.  That means letting go of fear; fear that your child won’t be accepted, that they won’t be at the same place as their peers, that they won’t become independent.

Connor will learn all the things that he is capable of learning, WHEN he is capable of learning them.  It doesn’t really matter whether it happens on a timeline out of some parenting book, because the most important thing is Connor’s internal timeline, and his readiness.

That means that my job is to give him the support he needs at this moment in time, and not pushing him to fit into situations he’s not ready for.  It’s okay to make the sippy cup available, but it’s not okay to force it on him.

These are the mistakes I’ve made.



About Flannery

Kid, husband, dogs, my mother, full-time job, maximum stress, minimal relaxation...sooner or later I had to vent. AND we moved from California to Texas. I could start a whole other blog about that.

12 responses »

  1. liking the piece about acceptance – if we don’t believe in our kids and that they can make it then no-one else will.

  2. I wish I had the sense you have now, way back when. I would have had the sense to burn every one of those parenting books. I’m glad you’re letting him figure out he’ll do thing’s when he’s good and ready. Sometimes that a hard lesson for us to learn.

  3. This is such a well-written post! It makes absolute sense and I tell myself that the delay means – “delay” – not never and not to push. But, honestly, it’s so hard in the moment to remember your words. I want to post this on my fridge to remind myself. Connor has an awesome mommy. And, I’m glad he had such a good camp this year!

  4. I really like how you sum it up at the end. I have made a few similar mistakes, but the important thing is that we have learned from them and are moving forward…providing our sons support and the opportunities to achieve new milestones when they are ready…whenever that may be.

  5. Love the milestones! Yeah Connor. I wish an alarm would go off when I do things like push too hard or forget to write a social story. Never mind, bad idea.

  6. Amen – I totally relate to it. My son needs to be ready to do things, I can’t try and control the timing. He does it in his own time, and I have to keep reminding myself of that. Great post – thanks!!

  7. I have learned the same lesson you did this summer,but didn’t realize it until you wrote it. This was my son’s best summer…ever. Things happened on his time when he was ready. He was at a camp that was right for him with people who understood him and with great supports. And he was comfortable to learn and grow. And instead of pushing this and that…I made sure he had what he needed and let him go.
    Thank you so much for writing this. Now I get why things went so well.

  8. God, I feel for you on this one. After a summer of pushing, working, and spending hour after hour in the bathroom… we came to the realization. Little Miss is not ready to use the potty. I’m banging my head against the wall because I should have realized it sooner. I should not have HAD to have an early intervention specialist tell me.

    I really don’t know what I’m going to do at this point. Like you, I know in my hear that it has to be on HER timeline, but dammit — I want to protect her. I want to keep her from the peers who are going to say “Ewwww! She wears a diaper!”

    So yeah… I get you. I get the lesson. And I get why we, as parents, seem to struggle with it over and over again. Thank you for sharing and reminding me that I’m not the only one.

    • I have to remind myself of this ALL THE TIME. It’s so easy to forget. For me, it’s so easy to think he’s just misbehaving, or being lazy. No, he is not ready. So hard to remember, and so hard to get other people to see it.


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