Find Out What Jen Finds

My journey on the spectrum of life … and the lessons I learn along the way …
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about Excuses: Reasons to Celebrate!

  • May 24, 2010 9:52 pm

I recently started a list on my phone called ‘Phrases that totally worked.’ I add to it whenever something surprisingly effective comes out of my mouth for the first time without my having a whole lot of forethought. Most are in the Parenting category. When I see it has ‘worked,’ I often go through shock & awe, and then pat myself on the back and pray it works the next time. Here is my favorite so far:

“Stop making excuses and follow my directions.”

This resulted in immediate compliance with NO lingering foul mood. I know! I had to inconspicuously pick my jaw off the floor and replace the ‘I’ve Had It’ adult-whine posture with a more confident ‘That’s Right…I’m the Boss…and I Totally Plan to Say Smart Stuff Like that all the Time cause I’m Smart and all’ stance.

I realized The Elder had reached a developmental milestone!

“…children master a variety of alternative strategies for resolving conflict. They can cajole the adversary, use bargaining, suggest compromise or cooperation (like turn-taking), and redirect conflict through humor.”

The School Years: Psychosocial Development – Social Problem-Solving Skills. The Developing Person Through The Life Span – (Berger)

So what’s the big deal? All 1st graders have mastered the art of manipulation, right? Yes! It’s ‘normal’! Yay! I haven’t decided if I’m more excited about his being developmentally on track or about his finally catching up with his nonverbal abilities!

For so long The Elder didnt say anything longer than 2-3 word phrases and only when prompted (and re-prompted). If he needed to initiate communication, it was physical and completely unrelated to his desire or need. For example, instead of pointing to a drink if he was thirsty, he would strip naked or throw his glasses across the room. It was as if he was fed up that no one was attending to his mental request after repeatedly thinking it. ‘Come on, people! If I’ve telepathically tried to connect with you once, I’ve done it a thousand times. It goes in my ear and out your ear! What do I have to do to get heard around here? Sheesh.’

When he was finally verbal, I heavily relied on listening to everything he would say in order to fully understand his triggers. And after some super-sleuthing, it would often fill in the gaps of why past meltdowns occurred. It was fascinating to finally learn the Reasons for his behaviors.

“How children think is as important as what they know.”

The School Years: Cognitive Development – The Legacy of Piaget. The Developing Person Through The Life Span – (Berger)

His Reasons were always literal (raw is more accurate) and logical (tho not obviously connected). While the former is to be expected, his logic far surpasses his age level. When he was 3 he tested beyond Kindergarten (he actually beat the test because it ran out of questions). At 4, his age equivalence was 11 years, 9 months. Because of this, I think there were a lot of unfair expectations for him to be more pragmatically mature. That discrepancy has been hard to parent, especially before awareness, but I imagine it is even harder to have.

Because of early intervention and inclusion, I think that gap is closing as he practices conversational skills. I noticed that his barrage of Reasons became Excuses when I, The Mom, couldn’t find an underlying connection between his words, body language, and past experiences. The usual and oh-so-confusing ‘complacent’ or ‘defiant’ reactions would then be displayed with integrity.

Do you know how freeing that feels? My brain gets to put the magnifying glass down more often…at least until adolescence…knock on wood…

Cathartic Moment

  • September 16, 2008 12:17 am

I cried this morning for the first time for my own personal hurt in a long time.

A little over 6 years ago we lost The Eldest. I think that may very well have been the first time I truly cried from pain that was out of my control. At least since I’ve been married to The Hub since 1996. It was a lingering depression where I worked myself 60-80 hours a week, came home, fell into my PJs, and got up the next day to do it all over again until I was less than 100 pounds.

*That was before the kind that gets taped down, though The Younger pulled that one off too, along with some skin at his temples
*I think I cried the most when he responded to his special song. That I will never take for granted! I sang it to him on Sunday!
*actually I was in shock that I only pushed 4 times. It was very anti-climatic. I practically sneezed and he fell out.

I cried when The Elder had jaundice and it wasn’t going away even with the bili-lights. I know now that it wasn’t life threatening but when you have no sleep, no experience with children EVER, a mini home tanning bed, and a cold screaming baby with a mask strapped to his head* – I probably blew things out of proportion a bit. I think of how minuscule that issue was compared to many newborns, especially the moms of newborns I’ve met since blogging, who had much greater issues that I could even imagine. I totally took my baby’s health for granted.*

I cried when The Younger was born* I cried because I realized what a blessing he was. I’m finding more everyday why God put him in our lives. The Hub and I had been married for 7 years before The Elder was born. The Younger was a bit of a surprise and boy is he full of surprises! And has served so many purposes in our family development.

I cried when The Elder did his first 180 degrees and went from the “perfect” child to the “defiant biter” overnight it seemed. I cried to see his friends one by one, stop coming to play-dates, stop inviting him to birthday parties, and one by one be excused from preschools.

I cried when I missed goals when I felt like I did my best and still missed the goal (which honestly have been few where I gave it 110%).

I cried when ASD entered our lives. I felt clueless and helpless.

All of the above was confusing, frustrating, hurtful, and chaotic. But it was out of my control. All of that was confusing, frustrating, hurtful, and chaotic. But it was out of my control. Today, I cried because I made a decision that was completely under my own power. And it hurt like crazy. Not The Kiddos, Not The Hub, Not any part of my extended family, work, etc. It was a personal issue that dealt with MY confidence, MY self-esteem, and MY bravery.

* I did have a few athlete friends, but they were all guys. They’d kill me if I didn’t include them here! I have made choices all my life about which crowd I hung out with. I tended to have popular friends because I was a cheerleader, but actually hung out with the other 97% of the students at my school. The same story with college. People knew who I was because they stared at me at football games and basketball games because I was the one tossed in the air, waiting to see if I would land or if I would fall, but I was friends with the “nerds” and sat at the “F.L.A.G.” table.**There are lots of tests online. Even free ones if you are curious what your profile is. I give this assessment full credit for helping me love people more.I always wanted to hang out with the “popular” crowd but it never felt right, I didn’t belong, I didn’t feel genuine. Often they mistook that as being snobby and didn’t attempt to be my friend, judged me, and shunned me. I never really let it bother me. I’m not sure why, being that I’m the personality that craves social approval (according to my DiSC profile).*Maybe because I was socially accepted by the people I did hang out with.

Today, I cried because of a conscious decision to let go of “friends” that were in the popular crowd at this stage in my life. This was a hard decision. I had to have a mourning period. But I have many friends that accept me and know me, the real me, who don’t judge me when I’m goofy, who respect me when I talk business, who love me for traits I didn’t know I even had! They are my popular crowd because I love them too. I care about them whether I have social approval or not. I don’t need the other crowd.

I think with a child with specials needs, I have learned to filter which crowd is the crowd that God intended to influence me, and for me to influence.I have learned to filter which crowd is the crowd that God intended to influence me, and for me to influence. It helps me to be more confident, more forgiving, and more likely to attract the kind of friends that are true friends. I took a moment today to make a list of people that have impacted my life for the better, many who are bloggers that I have never met. Many I don’t even know their real names or what they look like. And a few are right here in my city. I thank God for them.