Michael is full of surprises. Sometimes they have been stressful surprises, but lately there have been more happy surprises thankfully. And one of these happy surprises was him shocking me by doing something I have been telling him to do for some time: clean his room and the toys in his playroom. In a twenty-four hour span he took care of both rooms, putting me to shame with his ordering of the rooms. My office is in shambles, not to mention other rooms that I tackle when I get around to it. Writing for a living is enjoyable, hard and time-consuming work. I am learning how to slowly delegate and ask for help. But Michael truly amazed and surprised me by cooperating in doing what he was told.
It has been such a chore these past few months getting him to listen, follow rules. There has been testing, challenging behavior, questions about everything, with why being a favorite word. The other day I felt so bad at the relief I felt when he was safely on the school bus on the way to school. Phew! I wouldn’t have to field any more “why” questions, protect the cat from his “love” and over-exuberance” and could enjoy some quiet. Having a social, talkative and anxious boy around some mornings is daunting for this non-morning Mom. What works is if I wake up earlier and get caffeinated in order to more fully engage with Michael who is “on” the second he gets up. I love him and wouldn’t change him for anything in the world, but he comes with his challenges. Still, I see with his recent behavior, he so wants to please, and I think he thinks I will love him more if he outdoes himself with doing tasks. I must have unintentionally sent this message, so today I was praising him for listening, while at the same time reminding him that I love him no matter what.
“You love Mommy, right? Even when you’re mad at me, you still care about me, right Dude?”
“Well that’s the way I feel about you.”
“You’re the best Mommy God ever gave me. I love you.”
“And I you.”
We have had our fair share of conversations that went totally opposite to this one. The other night he was so mad at his father that he started hurling insults, every bad word he knew. Eventually when he ran out of them, he started saying “you apple, you orange.” Then he began to laugh. That’s when I knew he was ready to talk, apologize and ask for forgiveness. And his father was able to meet him there and tell him that he accepted and loved him for who he was. We all make mistakes. It’s important to acknowledge that, learn from it, and move on.
Michael has taught me how I have looked all my life for acceptance, love and credibility, usually when I already had it. My self-esteem was not too strong, and it took years for me to see I was worth everything my loved ones said about me. I see that with my newfound self-love, I must teach Michael to see that in himself, as those that care about him see it in him.
Exceptional Moms and Dads, how many times have your Exceptional Children not felt accepted by you, by others? Have they voiced it to you? If so, you know how to start to fix the problem. Praise their efforts at cooperation, but also find ways to tell them you love them no matter what else happens. Respect, love and kindness must be shown to all, but as everyone makes mistakes, show them how to forgive and forget too. Only in this way can they learn how to lead happy and healthy emotional lives. Until next time.