This week is Spring Break. This has always been the week it was up to me as “the Mom” to come up with fun plans, orchestrate the week for Michael and keep him busy. Though I am still doing much of this, something has changed. Something major has changed. It is both uplifting and heartbreaking. My little boy is becoming a big boy and wants more space away from me. Though I am celebrating this, especially as a Mom of a special needs son, it is also knocking me a little off balance. If he spends more time on audio visual, talking to his friends on the phone and has started asking when he can go places himself, where do I fit in as Mom in his life? Oh yes, and there is also the “no hugging me” or “kissing me” rule. I understand this, but miss it terribly. I think there are times I miss the hugs more than he does.
Yet, then there is the flip side. He will push me away, roll his eyes when I tell him to stop swearing or talking about vulgar topics, but then will ask me out of the blue, “Mommy, do you love me?” He will also do something like ignore the phone ringing when it’s a friend calling him back so he can finish telling me about his day. Tonight, I was on my way out to a writer’s meeting and said bye to Michael who was on the phone. He told his friend he’d call him back so he could say a proper goodnight to me. My heart melted and soared. He still wanted me in his life! He still needed me, though it’s a different kind of needing now. It’s a young man needing his Mom to support and teach him. He is not a baby needing to lean on me for support. He is a young man needing to have a guide on how to conduct himself in the world.
Our best conversations are like the ones I used to have with my Dad growing up. These took place in the car when my Dad took me to school or other extra curricular activities. The things he will ask. The things he will share. These are the moments the learning and bonding happen. It used to have to be staged or would only happen at mealtimes or play times. I am so happy to see us evolving together, yet there are times when he seems sad, forlorn or distant. I worry as he is anxious and prone to anger easily. How can I help him learn patience and practice his anger tools? I think it is by modeling them myself. I also have to remember he is a budding teenager. These are the hardest years. He is not a boy. He is not a man. He is in between. Too bad a word doesn’t exist to explain this kind of inner struggle of the self. Tween is all we have. Plus he is dealing with being different to other kids with a brain that is formed in a particular way, with anxiety, with diabetes. He is my hero, even though there are some nights I want to rip my hair out strand by strand as he drives me crazy with testing limits. I think I make him feel that way too sometimes. I guess that means we are even. I know that means we are both human.
So, what’s a parent to do in this situation? I think to start, consider her or himself lucky that their child is developing and moving forward. To continue, I think it’s really important to hone one’s sense of humor about the testing moments exceptional kids will give us at each stage of life, and finally, it’s important that an exceptional parent stops blaming themselves for every problem they can’t solve or fix. They need to let their kids try and figure it out to build that resilience. They also need to not feel responsible for every difficult mood, every challenge, and above all, not take the attitude and eye rolling personally. Why? Because you still matter in your tween’s life and always will. This is a dare of sorts. Will you still love me and help me if I push you out? And the answer in short needs to be yes. Be there. Be strong. Be wise. And your child will always know you are their safe harbor.
Exceptional Parents, who are you in your Exceptional Baby, Preschooler, School Aged or Tween’s life? How has their relationship to you been altered in any of the stages? Remember, they still love you and want you in their life. They also still need you and your input as much as a neuro typical child if not more. There is sometimes more innocence and more chances that abuses could happen or scar them. If your relationship with your child is changing, celebrate their growth as a sign they are maturing and going towards independence. Your love for them will always be needed even if they don’t know how to say it. Just be there. Be patient. And grow with them. Until next time.
Are you the parent of an Exceptional Child struggling with how best to handle challenging behavior? Are you worried about development, anxiety, or doubting your abilities to help your child become the best they can be? I can help you find your confidence as a parent again. For more information about my journey and coaching programs, check out my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Let me help personalize tools that will help your Exceptional family thrive!