Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Stephen Update and … Keeping It Real


How about a Stephen update? It's been a while since I've really gone into detail other than just posting a photo.

Yesterday, I was being lazy, laying around because my back was bothering me. I guess it goes without saying that Stephen only likes a few pounds being caught up with his mama’s size. Yesterday was one of those days that my back felt strained and I pretty much lived all day in my pajamas and visited a few blogs. I’m behind on housework but feel that I’ve gotten caught up on a lot of my friend’s blogs and even visited a few new ones that I enjoyed and will be returning to.

So let’s get back to Stephen and that photo up there. I’ll be the first to point out that Stephen is not showing off his million dollar smile and the whole thing turned out blurry. Never mind that. The main focus of this picture is the fact that Stephen is feeding himself with a fork. He still needs our help but that’s only with minimal assistance now days. I’d say he’s finally mastered this goal. We’ll work on his Emily Post at a later time. Right now, I’m just thrilled beyond measure that he’s able to grip the fork, stab at his food and eventually get it in his mouth. It’s hard for him but he’s getting there. Let me tell you, it’s hard for me as his mother to not do it for him when I see him struggling with this task and if I’m honest with you, the fact that I had a hard time for so long with that issue, I may have held him back with this and other skills.

I’ve never raised a neuro-typical child but I’m guessing that all parents, moms in particular struggle in that department. I remember that my mom did. It was a rule that my bed was to be made daily so I started making my bed before I even attended school. Mom said it looked like bodies were under there and she’d redo it for me instead of waiting for me to develop that skill on my own. She was a perfectionist (which I inherited from her) and the corners of the bedspread had to equally touch the floor all around the bed. If one corner was higher than the other, she couldn’t stand it. Also, my friends and I were not allowed to wallow (woller, we call it down here in Alabama) on the made beds; we had to sit in the bean bags or on the floor. I don’t care how good you were at straightening up that bed, mama knew someone had “wollered” on it. ;-)

I know a lot of my friends struggle in helping their children with their homework. Again, I remember those days. I attended Shelby Academy during my elementary years, which was a private school and the classes there were way tougher than the public schools in those days. (I’ve heard they’ve lowered their standards since back then. How unfortunate for me) Back when I was four or five, my mother was convinced that I was above average intelligence and in just a matter of a few short years at Shelby Academy, I had the honor of proving her wrong. Very, very wrong. My poor parents had the hardest time helping me with homework. We didn’t know it, but I was ADHD. It’s SO abundantly clear now that I am ADHD as an adult. Can’t you tell by trying to read my stories? This is why I don’t update very often. Being ADD and a perfectionist (OCD), I just don’t have time to do it to my standards! Anyway, a lot of the time, my mama or my brother would just do the homework for me because after all, Christmas would be here before I finished on my own. Eventually, the homework got much tougher and it was getting harder for them to “assist” me so my parents hired a tutor for me. For the first time in my life, I had to do this task on my own with the tutor working with me but pushing me to actually learn the math. I’m glad I finally learned the basic stuff, it comes in handy when I’m doing the books, cooking with a recipe or mixing chemicals for someone’s hair color. ~~ Forget French though. That just wasn’t happening for me. I failed French with flying colors. The tutor told me that she hoped I never had to live in France.

All this to say, so many things I wasn’t pushed to accomplish because it was easier for someone else to just do it for me. Till this day, regrettably, I’m still the type who needs a nudge with the important things. I give new meaning to the word, procrastinate. And, at the same time, I see myself doing the same exact thing to my son. Notice, I didn’t say “for” my son. Because, I believe if you don’t encourage your children to do all they can on their own, you are doing nothing “for” them. The greatest disservice we can be to our children is to reinforce their fears and insecurities (and their laziness) by allowing them to avoid the things they don‘t want to do. My goals are a little different from most parents. I just want my child to be able to feed himself, go to the bathroom on his on, dress himself -- Just basic daily living skills. But, I’m hindering his progress when I give in and do it for him. I think, as parents, special needs or not, it all comes down to teaching our children to live independently to the best of their ability when we are no longer around. The thought of Stephen being in this world without me is the one thought that keeps me awake at night. The one thing he needs most from me is for me to push him to be all he can be and do all he can for himself so he‘ll be as prepared as possible for that day. That’s very clear to me now. So I’m praying now for God to show me the way of doing this because this is a new skill for me to learn. -- And this is one thing NO ONE can do “for” me.


Bridgett said...

Mia...I confess, I was chuckling about the French. LOL I very winningly flunked German too. Foreign language was just SO over my head. I like to say it's because I love the English language so much, I don't need to know another. LOL

I also just have to say...STEPHEN IS GETTING SO BIG! He looks like a young man, Mia. No little boy there anymore.

And I'm absolutely THRILLED he's doing so well and feeding himself. We recently reached this milestone with Parker too.

As the mom of both a special need and neurotypical chld...I can honestly say, neither is easier than the other. They're simply different. Parker's needs are different than Autumn's needs...but they both need mommy equally. In ways, Parker's been easier for me than Autumn (aka Ms. Bossy Pants).


Indigo said...

I can see what you mean by this, I was the oppisite of that stream growing up. My mother didn't help, nor ever offer to. Most things I had to learn on my own. In more ways than one it helped me to survive on my own when I left home at 16. I put so much pressure on myself to succeed.

I was alarmed when I saw the same traits in my daughter. A little girl asking her teacher for more than one picture to color and hand in. Her teacher naturally obliged but didn't understand the specifics. Skye would come home and do one and think it wasn't good enough. In this way she did double the work until it met her standards.

Thankfully she has gotten better as she got older. I think it's a wonderful accomplishment for Stephen. I can't imagine how hard it must be not to help. But I can see you understand the need to allow him to try and do it himself. Your in my thoughts dear friend. (Hugs)Indigo

IndigoSunMoon said...

So glad to see you here dearie! Stephen looks awesome...just look at that angel with that fork! You have done a wonderful job with him Mia. I can't imagine how hard it's been for you...but all the hard work you have done has not gone wasted. You are awesome, and so is that precious angel of yours!

Solitary Dancer said...

Be still and listen to your heart. It will never steer you wrong. Make sure you quiet yourself enough to really hear your heart. Don't be fooled by imitators from the outside world.

Hugs and love to you my friend!


Bill said...

This is a fantastic entry. It was real good to see how much Stephen has grown and to know that he is now able to "fork" his way through dinner. You and Hubby need a metal for all you do. I agree with what you are saying about parential responsibility. My Regards, Bill.

Sue said...

This post hit home for me. I think I must have been a little like your mother. I felt that it was easier to just "do it" than to not have it done exactly right or hear the fussing. I see my children "making" their children do things and I see that this is the only way children learn. I told Shawn & Amy that you had left me a comment earlier and they both said wonderful things about you.