I could see your heart. You held it before you for everyone to see.

Still trying to figure out a good work routine; 9:30 - 4:30 is looking to be my normal schedule, tho, to accomodate the girls' school being a 9-5:30 thing. That 5:30 part stresses me a bit, since I have to drive from Kyle to Waco in rush hour traffic. Eh, I exaggerate a bit, but the drive from SW Austin to way N Austin at 4:30 is not a fast-moving one. I'll need every minute of that hour to make it on time.

I need to start looking at alternate routes. And at getting a shload of books on CD to pass the time. It's hard to not feel like an ass singing along to music while you inch down the road with the same few cars around you for an hour.

I started listening to the 5-CD Parenting set from Celebrate Calm yesterday. I attended one of this dude's 2-hour workshop's and I like a lot of what he has to say about raising sensory kids. It drives home the message that they are simply wired differently - it's not a discipline thing, it's not a sucky parenting thing - they. are. different.

I think that's hard for people to grasp, because they see a "normal" kid acting "badly" and feel it's something a parent is doing wrong. I've heard things like "maybe you should call Super Nanny" and "maybe if you just took all her My Little Ponies away ..." They mean well, but they're missing the point. And annoying me a bit.

Could I be a better parent? Hells yeah. But I'm guessing that you could too. We all could be *better*, but we all do the best we can and that means a LOT. And we certainly don't need our choices and methods second-guessed.

If you’ve not had the pleasure of parenting - or spending a decent chunk of time with - a sensory kid, it’s hard to grasp what’s going on. In Bean’s case, you see what appears to be a “normal”, relatively bright 4.5-year old. She talks like the other kids, walks like the other kids, plays like the other kids … you get the picture. Part of what makes sensory stuff such a challenge is the outer appearance of ‘normalcy’. It’s not something that’s outwardly obvious, like a physical challenge or autism. So it’s not only a challenge for the parent who loves the child to see past “bad” behavior and cut slack, it’s also a (huge) challenge for an outsider to do so.

What’s really hard to understand is that for my kid to do what a “normal” kid does, she’s using a lot of energy, thought and emotion just keeping pace. At 4.5, she’s already had to develop and master coping skills that sensory-normal kids don’t. So for her to play seamlessly with a bunch of other kids is already requiring a Herculean effort – when something happens that she doesn’t like, she reacts in a seemingly over-the-top way.

I've come to realize that just the act of playing with the other kids has tapped all of her reserves. She’s had to struggle with all the mis-wired areas of her brain just to maintain what we consider ‘normal’. She doesn’t have anything left to draw on when she’s disappointed.

I can empathize with her, as I tap into my reserves most of my working days. It takes a lot of effort for me to maintain an outgoing persona and meet new people all day long, so when I get home, I physically and mentally shift gears to jammies and couch potato mode. If someone suddenly throws an after-work outing at me, though, it’s hard for me to muster up what I need to make it through that event. Even with advance notice, I have a hard time rallying myself to do something after work. And I'm a grown-up who can (usually) manage my emotions and reset my expectations on the fly (sometimes). I've got 30-something years of experience managing my responses. She's got, what 2 or 3?

Another quirk of the sensory kid is how very much heart they have, and how sensitive they are. It's quite the juxtaposition, having this kid that just seems to barrel through life, full-on, but whose heart is as soft and tender as any you could imagine. Her capacity to love is just amazing to me, and such a stark contrast to some of her surface behaviors.

Parenting a SPD kid is tough enough; you need a solid support network around you - hopefully one or two other folks who are in your boat, and a handful of friends/family who at least try to understand that your kid is wired just a bit differently. I consider myself very fortunate to have both.

(Quote from "Helpless".)



Julia said...

You are doing your child a world of good to help her from an early age. Kids who don't get therapy or who have parents write them off end up in a world of hurt later on; hopelessness takes over to where the sensory issues define the child and not the child defining the sensory issues. It can't possibly be easy, but you're doing a hell of a job trying to stay on top of it.

Joelle said...

TOTALLY agree with Julia. And I appreciate the reminder of the way we judge other's parenting so quickly. But I do find myself judging parents who I think are ignoring some "issues" their kid seems to have more than judging the kiddos or parents of kids who are just misbehaving. I'm so glad you've chosen not to be afraid of any of her differences -- instead embracing and learning about and jumping into the deep end of knowing her. She will be so thankful that you've done that.

Vivian said...

Only you are the "Bean Expert." Those who would judge you know nothing, not even of themselves.
Bean is a lucky girl to have a mama who is doing her best for her everyday. What more can any of us ask for?

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