So today Michael came home from school and two things happened. He wanted to talk to me RIGHT AWAY and tell me about his day. This does not happen every day, and I know it is normal. He is growing up and almost a teenager. He usually mumbles hi, day was fine, and then asks if he could go call his friends and go on the computer. He eventually talks to me about his day, usually at dinner, but hearing it right from the moment he walks in like when he was a child, is still special for me. I see him growing up and respect that, but always remind him I am here if he needs to talk and want to continue to offer that closeness.
The other thing that happened was that Michael remembered to do something important today. Without reminders or prompts, HE wore his new Medic Alert necklace that will inform medical personnel in case of an emergency that he is autistic and diabetic, two important things to keep in mind when giving him medical attention should he God forbid not be able to speak for himself. I saw he was wearing it and was blown away. He remembered on his own! That was the first time we did not have to tell him or ask him if he had it. I said, “Michael, I am so proud of you. You remembered to wear your necklace!” His blush and small smile spoke volumes. My words still had meaning for him! I still mattered to him at a time when friends and peer groups rule over parent groups. Wow! We both experienced a rush. My tough big boy who can, frankly, be a pain in the you know what some days, was once again my little boy, who indeed still values my opinion, thought and guidance. I know this, of course, but seeing it with my own eyes is something else.
I have also noticed that even with the tough moments where behaviors still arise and attitude is present, Michael is being more polite and respectful towards Dad and I. There is more of “Thank you Mom, for letting me use your phone to navigate on Google Maps.” “Thank you Mom, for making this meal or letting me have five minutes extra time before bedtime.” Occasionally I have even been wished, “have a good night’s sleep Mom. Have a good writer’s meeting or good day Mom.” Yes! His good character is coming through the rebellion, the pulling away that is natural but hard on him and me at times. My sweet little boy is still sweet, but now is a sweet big boy, slowly starting his way on to manhood. Gulp. But, I am seeing a funny side to all of this. Even when he is angry and annoyed at me, I see his struggles. I see him trying to understand the world, me, his friends, himself, through a tween soon to be teen lens. It is not easy. As his teacher this year said to me last week at Parent/Teacher Night, “Remember your teen years. Were they easy for you with the hormones and growing up?” I of course said no. They were the hardest of my life. He reminded me that for Michael he has those hormones, growing up, WITH ASD, ADHD, Diabetes and anxiety. Yep. A lot more to contend with. And looking at Michael through that lens, he is doing a fantastic job of navigating life.
For me as an Exceptional Parent, what has proved the best tool to navigate these years has been what got me through the toddler years- a sense of humor. No, I do not laugh when he is angry and swearing, but I do remember that yes, this too shall pass in a few years when he realizes I and Dad know more than his friends do. Even now, there are those moments when he says things like, “Put your phone down Mommy. I want to talk to you. Listen to me.” He will usually burst into the room when I am in the middle of something, but after asking him for a minute to close up shop, I give him my full attention. I also have reminded him, “4:00-4:30 is your time with me. We can talk if you need it.” He knows I am there if he needs to vent. I feel the love in the moments when he asks, will I be coming to his concert, will I be taking any future PED DAYS off, will I take him places in the summer? Yes, he may be pulling away naturally from me, (a good and healthy thing), but I am glad that our relationship is back on a respectful, calm, and orderly plane, so he knows that I love him and make rules for his protection and well being.
Exceptional Parents, how often have your Exceptional Children surprised you? Remember, as hard as life gets with the meltdowns, misunderstandings and challenges, never give up on your child meeting you halfway. If they see healthy boundaries, respect shown both ways, and a willingness for you to keep an open mind and sense of humor, whatever age and stage they are at, they will gravitate towards a more positive relationship with me in whatever way they are capable of doing. They will feel your love so never be afraid of giving them space, and staying close for when they need your help. 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!