I had another one of those moments yesterday afternoon at my kitchen table where tears were running down my face. And, as I have told Michael many times about his crazy Mom, they were happy tears. I was reading Michael’s report card, and was so very proud of my little guy as I always am. Every semester, every year, he is growing, learning and maturing. It is beautiful as his mother to see my little flower bloom. And every year, the teachers and other professionals have the same thing to say, “he is a pleasure to teach,” “he is cheerful, tries hard and is a great helper to friends” etc. It’s enough to make me go through the whole Kleenex box! The only thing I catch myself doing each year, and this feeling gets more pronounced as my eyes read and the closer I get to the end of the report card, if Michael will get moved up academically. I used to obsess about academics when he first started talking, then reading. I want all the doors of the world to continue opening for him and I know that an education does that. But, I am in the process of trying to talk that Joanne down.
I tell other parents, as I have learned, that academics are not everything. That yes, it is important for our children to learn all they can, but we can’t push them to do what maybe they are not ready to do. I also have learned thanks to wonderful Mom friends I have, one in particular, that social skills are even more important for our children who struggle with making friends, how to talk to people, and most importantly, how to emotionally regulate themselves. Academics and learning will come, the other things will be the real determinants of our kids having close friends, finding and keeping jobs. Temple Grandin said it too.
So how can I be so proud of my little guy who has learned a lot of those skills and continues to grow in that area as well as academically, yet disappointed a little when I get to the end of the report card and it says he will continue in the same academic stream as before? There will be more subjects he will be learning. He will definitively be challenged as he always is. The school he goes to is amazing, yet Mom, the perfectionist, is pushing. Or could it be that that is the mother hen in me, wondering if I am doing enough to push him, make him competitive and ready for the world? I tell other parents to let go and that all the programs at his wonderful adapted school are created equal. And I believe it. Sort of. Kind of. OK, I guess I have to face the fact that I am still working on accepting it. I have a friend whose son is in the higher academic stream. He struggles with it sometimes, the homework, the tougher academics, and I am so glad for her honest feedback about the pros and cons of being in this program, just like there are pros and cons in Michael’s program.
I see deep down inside that Michael is fine where he is. He tells me himself, by his comments when and where he is challenged. He enjoys doing some homework and not a lot. What is meant to be will be. Exactly what I help other parents understand, that all the programs are tailored to your child overall (and that is true), is what I will continue to remind myself of one year at a time.
Exceptional Parents, are your hard on yourselves and your Exceptional Child in the name of learning and progress? Do you push yourselves or your child or increase your expectations when everyone is just fine? Don’t worry if the answer is yes. Acknowledge that you are being a little critical, take a step back, and remember, there is a Higher Power out there working in the universe to make sure you and your child are exactly where they are meant to be. Feel that. Believe it. And it will be. Until next time.