“Why are you always downstairs when Daddy and I are in the living room? I never see you!” Michael said in irritation the other night.
“I’m downstairs writing, Michael. I always come up right before you go to bed to see how you are and to say goodnight.”
“Why don’t you want to be with us?”
“Honey, I’m with you every day when you come home at 4:00 pm, we talk, we eat dinner, and then you are Daddy are talking or both on your phones so I take that time for me. Besides, it’s not like we are having family time. We do that during meals and on weekends. You and I spend a lot of time together. Why is it so important I am upstairs for that hour?”
Michael paused and then answered. “Because I miss your face Mommy. We are all together in one room, even if we are all doing different things.”
His words hit me full force. I miss your face. We are together, not in a deliberate way like eating, but together casually. In his mind, with his unique brain, this is family time exceptional tween style, and I was not understanding that.
“Ok. What if I come up a half hour earlier and we have this time so that still leaves me my writing time? Does that work for family time?” I asked.
“Yes, Mommy. I like that idea. Thank you.”
Simple. Such a simple change. And after I got over the shock of “I miss seeing your face,” my heart exploded with joy. He misses me. He still values family time, and even though peers and private time are tops, he wants to do family things. My big guy who is getting more independent each day misses having us all in the same room. Awww. I am doing something right. So is Dad. It’s hard sometimes when you are parenting a child so different than the typical tween. I’d forgotten that people with autism and ADHD look at life, relationships and the world differently. This was how Michael defined family time, whereas another child would want to go out to a movie or shopping. Don’t get me wrong. We still have days when we talk for a half hour or more. But more often than not, Michael will give me “highlights” of his day, key moments, then announce he wants to go to his room where he will stay chilling for a bit followed by listening to music on his headphones, then a solo bike ride or walk alone, then back home for dinner.
So this was new and appreciated. It also reminded me how as parents we need to try and see our kids through different lenses, and when we can’t, look to them for cues on where to meet them on their way to growing up. Michael and kids like him are our best teachers.
Exceptional Parents, how often do you see life through your Exceptional Child’s lens or listen to ways they’d like you to meet them? Often we push to have them meet us in our world, forgetting to respect their world and boundaries. Remember, meeting halfway between two different worlds, yours and your child’s means compromise. Let your child know their views are as important as yours and you will keep the parent/child bond growing stronger as they age. Until next time.