Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Raising a kid with special needs: On parent delays and development
When you're raising a kid with special needs, you think a whole lot about their development. You wonder about the whens, you try not to dwell too much on the whys, you go nuts celebrating the you-did-its.
You think a lot less about your own progress, as a parent. I mean, who has time?!
But I've been thinking about this a lot for the last few days, as we've finally gotten into the swing of potty training. It wasn't so much a case of whether Max was ready to be toilet-trained—the truth is, he's been ready for awhile. It was more about my being ready; I'm the one who's been delayed.
I needed to commit to potty-training and acknowledge how important it was for Max.
I needed to break out of what had become part of our routine (changing him). Changing diapers is a pain at times, but when you're used to it it can be convenient.
I needed to psych myself up for the work involved.
I needed to just make the time.
I had a definite turning point. Actually, it was a series of them in which I kept realizing Max was getting older and it was time, like when he got a haircut the other week and suddenly he looked like a Big Kid. But the real moment happened in a parking lot (I also got engaged in a parking lot, more on that another time). We were in Philadelphia, and about to head into a museum. Max needed a change, stat (as in, no time to get to a bathroom) and Dave did it in the trunk of our minivan.
We are like the Dr. Seuss of poop—would you change him in a car? Would you change him in a bar? Would you change him in a boat? Would you change him on a coat?
We've done all that, and Max hasn't minded one bit. But that day in the minivan I thought, Max deserves more dignity, if we can make it happen.
And that's when I carved out the weekend to do potty training.
The process was tedious (although I doubt any mom's ever had a blast potty training, even with white wine), but Max made some nice progress. And then? So far, he's stayed dry in school for two days, and peed whenever they've taken him (every two hours). He's going at home, too, when we take him; he still needs to get the hang of telling us he has to go.
In case you didn't see yesterday's update, I got an email from his teacher mid-afternoon. She wrote, "Max is coming home with a purple crown today. He is King of the Potty. He stayed dry all day again. We are so proud of him and he is proud of himself as well." And the school nurse wrote, "Looks like we are on the way to complete success."
I thought about how the nurse has, for the past couple of years, pushed me to be more diligent about training Max. I could have done this a long time ago. But I wasn't ready. And I'm just not going to feel guilty about that (although guilt has crossed my mind). I've got a lot going on in life, like any parent of a kid with special needs. I do my best.
Just like Max, there are things I do on my own time.