I can’t believe that I am only writing about this now when I was so proud of Michael after it happened one week ago exactly. I guess it was just one of those times I worried that if I said out loud, things went really well, they would take a turn for the worse. I’m usually not so black and white anymore when it comes to Michael’s mood swings, but hey, what can I say? I still have my moments. 🙂
So what happened was that last Thursday night at Parent/Teacher night at Michael’s school, I was given a late afternoon appointment to see the teacher. There was no time to make any babysitter arrangements, and Michael has been asking for awhile now to be trusted to stay alone in the daytime. I left him a handful of times in the winter to run to the store quickly for about thirty to forty minutes. This though would mean he would be alone for two hours, late afternoon before dinner until Dad came home from work. Would he be able to handle it? I didn’t know, but he had been progressively showing me with his words and deeds that I could trust him not to turn on any appliances, open the door, pick up the phone unless he recognized the name, or do any other safety hazard to endanger himself .He was excited and understandably a little nervous, but I told him words I have been longing to say to him for awhile, “Michael, I trust you. I know you can do it.” And guess what everyone? He did it! Dad came home at six pm to find Michael listening to his music, the house in order, and he cooperated beautifully when Dad gave him his injection and warmed up dinner for the two of them. When I came home to my two happy boys, the first words out of my mouth was praise for Michael followed by promises to leave him alone again in the daytime for longer stretches. After that was mastered, we would work our way into solo evenings.
Now, this trust did not happen overnight. I have been seeing how Michael is becoming more independent over the course of the last six months, and longing for this challenge and decided to try last Spring leaving him for small increments. The trust we had in him seemed to fill him with more confidence, and he continues to want to do better and show us he can cope. There are boys in his class whose parents already trust them for long periods of time at home, so Michael is excited to be moving into this direction. I and Dad have continued to instill in him how this takes organization, maturity and trust on his part to do this, and on ours too for that matter. Michael is getting closer every day to being able to handle himself, and I couldn’t be prouder. He is learning how to handle his emotions, build his trust in himself and us, and find a balance between growing up and asking for help when he still needs it.
The next step… giving him a key to let himself in after school and possibly later this summer, going to the park up the street by himself either on foot or bike. Eeek! I am on pin and needles about it, but on the other hand, I truly believe that as the parent, you will know when and if your exceptional child will be ready for such big steps. Start slow, and go from there.
Exceptional Parents, are your Exceptional Children ready to be left alone for short periods of time or do you see a time when they can be? Don’t despair if you are not there. Every child develops differently. As the parent you need to acknowledge where they are, love and support them to grow into confidence, and then you and they will see what they are capable of when they will be ready. Until next time.