I have fallen out with a few special needs mums over the years because of my views of how to raise the children. I accept the boys have additional needs and that mean that sometimes that act and behave in ways which is slightly different from those of their peers, and as such, I make sure they have the information to be able to handle situations in a way that causes them as little harm – both mentally and physically, as possible. I do however believe that as children, they will try to push their boundaries as hard as possible – which is very healthy, but this means they have to be bought into line. In other words, I don’t let my kids use their condition as an excuse for bad behaviour and failing to try to act in an acceptable way. Now, I know as kids, this is a very difficult thing for them, and as additional needs ones, they don’t always understand what is an appropriate behaviour, but my job as a parent is to try to equip them in a way that allows them to function in society – and this is where I have fallen out with a few people who make excuses for their kids because of their conditions rather than helping them to learn how to interact less stressfully.
I have been accused, predominantly by my MIL, of raising 2 mummy’s boys, but the truth is that with their delayed emotional development, they aren’t equipped as well as many of their peers with an understanding of many situations, and therefore I have had to step in. I have been hoping and waiting for them to become a little more independent – well, as much as any Mother wants to allow their babies to grow away from them, but it has been hard for them.
D has always been far more aware of his surroundings than M, and therefore does seem much more mature, despite being almost 2 years younger. I do still think he is too young to go anywhere unsupervised, mostly because we still don’t have enough strategies in place for him to cope with unforeseen situations that might distress him.
M has gradually been waiting to have his freedom extended. This has included him walking ahead of us on the school run in the morning, but he will always come and find me in the playground, just to check in. This term, he has gone a little bit further, and will talk to me when he comes out of school, and then come home by himself. With Old Person in the house when he gets here, he isn’t on his own for too long, and the first few times he did it, he asked her to text me to say he had made it, even though I was only a couple of minutes behind him with D. He has enjoyed this little piece of independence, one which I know many of his classmates have had for a couple of years, but he is now ready for it, something he never would have been earlier.
Last week he started back at his tennis lessons – it is a class at the school, immediately after the end of day bell, so he goes straight from class into it. When we were talking about it, I asked him if he wanted me to come and meet him to come home afterwards. He thought about it for a while, and decided that he could manage it by himself. I of course was worried about him, but he managed to do it, and was so proud of himself. I suppose a little bit of me was upset that he was at last growing up, but at the same time, I was so pleased for him that he had safely done it.
Then on Friday, D was too poorly to go to school, and I asked M if he wanted to walk up by himself. He thought about it, and said he would. I was as nervous as anything, and asked a friend who would be dropping her son off to just check he was in his line when the bell went – I know, obsessive Mummy moment, but I am sure all parents worry on their childs first independent walk. Luckily his class were doing the assembly that morning, and pictures were put on the school Facebook page, so I was able to see he was there!! He was also due to walk home by himself. I had said to him that if he wanted to walk with someone, to look for the Grandma we usually walk down the road with. Being a Friday, he was well loaded bringing things home, and he had enough sense to ask for help. He arrived at the door, thanking our friend and her Grandson who had helped him carry everything. I was not only proud of him for managing without me, but even more so, for asking for help, something we could not have imagined a couple of years back – it is lovely to see when he finds someone he trusts.
My baby has therefore now made the first baby steps to becoming an independent human being. I am immensely proud of his achievements this week, if not also a little sad that my baby is moving away from me.