When in Doubt

The Boy is now a full-fledged teenager of fifteen years old. As such, he has begun to take extraordinarily long showers, as I’ve heard teenage boys are wont to do. Because The Man pays both the electric and water bills, however, this budding habit has caused a bit of a household rift every other day or so.

“When’s he getting out?”

“I can’t see through the door.”

“He’s been in there too long.”

“What would you like me to do about it?”

Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera… *sigh*

Last night I fell back on one of my key rules of parenting: When in doubt, try bribery.

I got The Boy to agree to a 9:00pm shower time. Just as he was about to go in the bathroom, I said, “Hey, if you can hop out by 9:15, you can get a cookie.”

“Ok!”

I gave him one heads up that he had about a minute, and magically the shower turned off a few moments later. It took him another eight minutes to physically remove himself from the bathroom, but once he did, he went to the fridge, got himself a cookie and smiled like the happy camper he was.

I raised my eyebrows at The Man and smiled, too.

That’s why it’s still one of my key rules of parenting. ūüėČ

Responsibility

I’m pretty lucky. The Boy generally does what I ask him to do. Unless, of course, he is in the middle of something. And generally, if I set a timer for five minutes or so, he will usually do it then.

Last Sunday, I decided that he should help me prep his lunched for the week. Pretty simple tasks involved, like counting 12 crackers and 12 pepperonis to put into snack bags. The cheese is a bit more complicated, involving a knife and cutting, but I figured he could help me with the bulk of it. I gave him five minutes, and he came to help, doing what I asked. My goal is to get him to the point where he can do this himself every Sunday, because why not?


It took awhile, mostly because he is so careful when he does tasks like this. It would have been much easier for me to do it myself, but then, I won’t always be there, will I?

Every time we do something like this, I give myself an internal high five, and The Man and I look at each other and say, “He needs to do more of this.”

I’m off to brainstorm more ways he can “help,” so we can add them bit by bit…

Today is the Day

Today is The Boy’s last day of 8th grade, of middle school, of being anything but a teenager. He’s excited. I’m excited. We’re all excited. And a little wistful, too. Even The Boy exclaims, “How did we get here?” and “How did this happen?” I tell him time flies, and if you blink, you miss it. I tell him all those old cliches, those that have been around so long they must be true. It sure feels that way.

Where is the 5 pound 6 ounce baby I was holding in my arms yesterday?

Where is the toddler who got away from me in the department store and hid in the middle of a clothes rack?

Where is the preschooler who couldn’t wait for the water to warm up to get into the small pool we had bought, and whose smiling lips turned blue?

Where is the 2nd grader who kicked his classmates?

Where is the 4th grader who sang the Star Spangled Banner at the high school football game with his choir?

Where is my 7th grader who began to have crushes on girls?

Who is this extra man in my house who is taller than me, requires shaving at regular intervals, and has hands and feet bigger than his dad’s? Who can barely fit on the couch if he stretches out on it? Who “practices” driving every time we get into the car?

Ah, yes. He’s my son, even though I can’t possibly be old enough for it to be true. My son. And me over¬†here? The one with a bit of dust in her¬†eye? I’m one proud mom.

finding our own path

 

Keys to Independence Challenge

One of my greatest worries in life is what The Boy will do when I am gone. My goal, and the goal of most special needs parents, is to prepare my son to be the most independent person he can be. We don’t know yet what his living situation will be, nor do we know how and where he will work. But right now, I can prepare him for the basics, and I can do it by introducing him to things adults do every day. Each introduction may or may not be successful, but at least he will have had the experience so that we can build on it in the future.

Here is the Keys to Independence Challenge I mentioned last week.

Keys to Independence Challenge

 

How does this work?

For each day of the month of April, you attempt to introduce your child to the skills above. If they’ve already had experience with it or do it on a regular basis, try switching things up a bit to increase flexibility. If you’d like to document your work with a picture or a status update, you can do so on social media with the hashtag #keystoindependence so people can check it out and get some inspiration.

Is this only for teenagers?

Nope. You can totally do many of these with younger children, with a little forethought. It could just be learning about the skill rather than actually performing it, too.

Is this only for kids with special needs?

Heck no! I know some neurotypical adults who could benefit from this practice! ūüėČ

What if we miss a day (or three or five)?

Hey, life happens. Especially in a special needs home. No worries! You can skip it completely, or come back to it in May, if you’d like.¬† No one is keeping score.

What if my kiddo doesn’t want to do it?

The Boy is of an age where he relishes the thought of being an adult, and having a little independence.¬† I’ve prepped him a bit for this, but I have some backup incentives, too. Think about what motivates your kiddo and see if you can’t build that into the challenge.

What if I don’t understand what the day’s task is?

Interpret for yourself, or check my facebook page or social media and search for the #keystoindependence hashtag – you’ll see at least my take on the day’s prompt.¬† I just opened up an Instagram account for this very purpose @SimpleIJustDo! But there are no right or wrong answers here.

What if I don’t want to post about it or post pictures?

No worries! You do you! But we’d love to hear how it’s going for you! If you do decide to post, just include the #keystoindependence hashtag so we can find you.

If you have more questions, feel free to let me know. I’ll be posting about the challenge on my facebook, twitter, and now instagram accounts if you want to follow. If not, I’ll still be posting about regular stuff, too.

As always, thanks for your support, and here’s to an enriching April!

Keys to Independence: A Challenge

Recently, Grammy & Poppy left town for a few days, and rather than disrupt The Boy’s routine, we planned for him to still go to their home after school to hang out until The Man or I could come to pick him up. In preparation for this, I had a spare key made, thinking I would give it to The Boy, show him how to work the lock, and let him practice for a few days. Except that the key I had made didn’t work, and when I attempted to show him, he got frustrated lightning-quick, and didn’t want to try anymore.

We resolved that situation another way, but it has me thinking about all of the things a 14 year old on the spectrum should be practicing for the day when he has a bit more independence. You see, we are both tired after our long days of work, and I don’t push too much at home, especially during the week. Weekends, I ask a little more, and now and then there are certain chores he helps me do. But I know we could do so much more, and work on that lightning-quick frustration level, too.

Planner nerds and Bullet Journal Junkies often have monthly challenges, and the idea is to take something you’d like to practice, like doodling or hand lettering, and do it each day with a guided prompt. You commit to the challenge, you do the prompts, and you share with a special hashtag on social media (and lots of people miss days, or get “caught up” later if they get behind – no worries). I’ve been thinking about doing an Independence Skills Challenge for the month of April, which also happens to be Autism Awareness Month. There will be a list of “prompts,” or specific independence skills to encourage each day or couple of days. I will share more details next week, and I would love it if you would join us with your own kiddos (on the spectrum or not!), but I’m excited, even if The Boy and I are the only ones doing it.

Keys to Ind Chall

Helping Him Connect

The Man and I were grocery shopping this weekend, and if you do like I do, and go on certain days of the week, you tend to notice the same people shopping on “your” days. I also tend to do the shopping alone, because I can get in and out of the store in twenty minutes without the boys, and it turns into an hour long negotiation with them. But this weekend, The Man tagged along, and we left The Boy at home enjoying his independence.

One of the people I have noticed on previous trips is one of The Boy’s friends-who-is-a-girl. She kinda, sorta recognizes me from band events and such, but I don’t often do more than smile big at her. I mentioned to The Boy that I saw her on one of these trips, and so now, when I leave him at home, he asks me to let him know if I saw her.

This weekend, I did one better. After I saw her, I Facetimed The Boy to let him know, and who walked down the aisle right as I was doing it? The girl in question! So I approached her and said, “Do you want to say hi?” and pointed the face of the phone toward her. A bit confused, I saw a big smile break out on her face when it clicked who I was, and who was on the screen. “He’s showing you his cat,” I said. “Awww! How cute! Hi!” she said to The Boy. His weekend was made, and even though I probably confused her for a minute, I helped him make another connection with a friend.

It may not have been the most “normal” occurrence for her on a weekend, but a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do to help her kiddo make connections and spread awareness and acceptance.

Halloweekend from Hell

Halloween was never my favorite holiday as a kid, but my kid loves it, so it’s been much more fun over the past fourteen years. We are getting to the point where the trick or treating should probably be winding down, but hasn’t, and I don’t quite have the heart to force the issue.

This weekend, the issue is compounded because of too many opportunities.

Tonight, the high school band is hosting a party to which the 8th grade band members have been invited. I thought maybe this is the one thing we could skip this weekend, but The Boy has other ideas.

HalloweekendSaturday evening, we plan to take him trick or treating in another neighborhood.¬† He definitely won’t give this up.

Sunday evening, his best buddy who is now at the high school is hosting his annual haunted house, and he looks forward to this all year.

Three days in a row and the weekend is shot.¬† I was aiming for compromise and maybe doing to out of three, but I lost the fight, and since Halloween is for the kids, that’s ok. Plus he is actually choosing to do social stuff, and how can I say no to that?

But Mom definitely gets a weekend off next weekend!

The Curse (or is it Gift?) of the Middle School Teacher

After teaching middle schoolers for almost half my life, I can see what kids will look like as teenagers.  If I really look at a child that still has some baby fat, baby teeth, braces, and that awkward, gawky way of trying to hold their body just so, I can picture him or her after 4 years or so, taller, more self-assured, straighter teeth.

I looked at The Boy today and realized he is no longer a boy.¬† He is quickly on his way to becoming a teen.¬† He had just woken up, and was still a little out of it, staring into space, allowing me a moment to really study him.¬† And I blinked, looked at the pictures all around us in our living room, at that little boy in kindergarten, then after he’d lost a few teeth, looking like that beautiful, typical American boy…¬† “Where did my baby go?” I said.¬† “He’s in the pictures, Mom,” The Boy replied as I hugged him tight.¬† I watched him amble off, down the hall, and I pictured him, taller, broader shoulders, and a little more self-assured (I mean, after all, he can even make his own bagels, now!), and I had two simultaneous emotions: sadness that I’m losing my little boy, and hope for the man he will become.

And here come the tears…

breakfast