This has truly been the summer of laughter and tears. Puberty with an exceptional child can do that to you. Michael has grown up, literally and figuratively, in so many ways this summer I can’t believe it. I am so proud of the young man he is becoming. He is able to go out walking by himself, biking by himself. He is doing his own diabetes injections, and every once in a while when I have a hard time, he is able to remind me to use the strategies I tell him to use. Tonight, once again, he decided to clean his room and get better organized. ON HIS OWN. I am speechless and happy. He went to bed no hassles, wonderful.
Then there are the times during said days when there are raised voices, harsh words spoken, articles thrown across the room and meltdowns happening over seemingly small things. This is hard for Michael. This is hard for us. Once we get through it though, I make sure I have a laugh. We have to parents. If we don’t laugh at the absurdity of different brains misunderstanding each other about trivial things at times, strange family conversations that only another exceptional family would ‘get’ (I know my friends, both virtual and in person reading this will say, hell ya!), and our own stress levels that sometimes need a release, we’ll be done for.
Parents and caregivers remember this. Our kids are incredible human beings. They have so much to offer. Sometimes their parents, unless similarly gifted can’t get their offspring’s brain, that may more closely resemble Uncle Joe’s or Aunt Patty’s than Mom’s or Dad’s. Sometimes they do resemble your brain, but you’re not their yet, not quite grasping your own uniqueness. You get the picture. The thing is, you need to laugh with them and teach them to laugh with you. Life is an adventure. Our job as the adults is to help our kids see it.
Exceptional kids are warriors parents, in a world that does not always get them, even when they are driving us nuts. And even if you and they are lucky to have people around, family, friends, therapists who ‘get it’, who ‘get’ them, you ‘ll still have moments when you need to say, it’s been a hell of a day. Let’s laugh and celebrate that our kid survived, we survived, and we have people out there rooting for us and looking forward to laughing with us.
What I’ve tried to impart to Michael is that he has his community- his family, his special needs friends and family, our church should he want to come back to it, and his therapists. All of them see his amazing self and want to help him be the best he can be. The rest is up to him. Mom and Dad have to make sure to keep themselves up to par too. And when they are stressed, just laugh about the absurdity of life when different brains clash, different worlds collide, and people are willing to say, “I need to look at things in another way even if it’s only funny to me and certain other people, even if it’s weird. I need to let loose and maybe in doing so, the world will see, there is not only one way to be.”
Exceptional Parents, do you use humor with your Exceptional Child and family members to handle stresses that exceptional family life can bring up? If not, it’s never too late to start. I know our family will be ok when I can laugh about strange things that happen and they can too. I know that when I laugh about Michael’s funny anecdotes, I am also giving myself permission to laugh about my own. We all have our moments, and by accepting ourselves for who we are, we teach our children the same message of patience, love and acceptance. Until next time.