We also just found out that there won’t be a baby # 2, and I kind of feel like I don’t have the chance to use everything I learned in the first round.
Am I the strangest? What should I do except take deep breaths and try to step back?
Anxious: Suddenly I want to reassure you, warn you, thank you for your honesty and stand up for all the “weird kids”.
All that deserves to be celebrated in us – art, science, literature, curiosity, ingenuity, empathy, humility, compassion – would be diminished without them.
Perhaps the humanity contained in the child out of the mainstream, in short, can even help calm you down along the path your child has taken. Just adapt it to:
Not being able to scoot as well as his friends = the engine starter that drives him to try to fail and try harder to achieve what he wants. Or to get around what is not working.
A brush with insults = the beginning of a lifelong education, with your help, in empathy, limits and compassion. Teach him not to drive out “outcasts”.
Complain about “football” = the beginning, I hope, of your beautiful friendship with the idea that your child needs you to see him, not just a kid who fits wherever your community offers.
Raising a unique being – who has their own strengths, interests and schedule – to be comfortable in their own skin means not only paying attention to the feedback they give you about what they love to do, but also accept these results as neutral in value.
For example: it will not be well if he ends up warming up in football, or badly. It will be fair. That’s who he is anyway. Absorb this information, adjust your thinking, adjust the way you bring it up, repeat.
The prospect is good, but sometimes actionable information is better.
The same goes for your idea that breathes deeply. Actions, not reactions. We (mostly) learn to curb our messier emotions in class or at work, and this is only the parental version. Where you now panic over your son’s difficulties and differences, learn (especially) to react in a measured and practical way.
Also accept that this already difficult task will be more difficult now. You are the parent of a toddler, in Pandemic, you navigate the special needs assessment process and you mourn a second child who will not be. Hard, harder, harder.
So the first step in training yourself to resist the tyranny of expecting your child is to set new, more flexible expectations for yourself. You say you feel weird being scared of the scooter instead of not worrying – but don’t feel weird. Rather, recognize that it is normal to want everything to go well; it is normal to hit an area of mud; it is normal to spin your wheels.
Now collect yourself and get back there. Show your child what resilience looks like.
Anxiety is a no-surprise response to what you have, to those seemingly large uncertainties. It’s also a problem you can overcome, with treatment if needed (call your doctor for an evaluation), with self-care and forgiveness, and with strategic thinking.
If you start to pay more attention to the real nuance of these issues, the degree of uncertainty that we regularly find ways to accept, the complexity and individualization of success, and how mastery of life is more about appreciating gifts than pursuing them – then the prospect might just take care of himself.
Dear Carolyn: I just act like everyone around me is positive and so am I. This includes all of my friends. I see them having a beer outside on their porch, or even meeting them for a weekend in side-by-side cabins, but I imagine a cloud of virus leaving both of our mouths and space accordingly.
We are also open to our limits for our daily life in the meantime, so I tell my friend whose limits are tighter than mine that I saw my chiropractor (masked) for half an hour on my first appointment. the day or I’ve eaten outside a restaurant patio, and he decides if it’s worth the risk for me to come. We usually wait 14 days after that, and our friendship continues. All friendships are distant these days, and that’s okay. The good ones will stay.
Anonymous: Such sound advice, I just gave you the reins. Thank you.