Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The supermarket standoff: On refusing to do stuff for your kids

As independent as Max is getting lately, he's stubborn about using both hands at once. Since his right hand is weaker, it's easier for him to try to do things with the left one. Make that try to do everything with the left one. We tease him about how he forgets that he has two hands, but it's no joke watching him struggle to do stuff single-handedly. The refrain me and other parents of children with cerebral palsy regularly chant: "Two hands! Two hands!"

So then Max and I were grocery shopping last week, and at the checkout counter he was loading items onto the conveyor belt. For once, nobody was behind us so I let Max handle it alone. Only he
kept picking stuff up with one hand, dropping it, trying again and repeat repeat repeat.

"Two hands! Two hands!" I kept saying, to no avail.

"Firemen always have to use two hands when they work!" I noted. He ignored me.

Then Max attempted to pick up a carton of milk with just his left hand, a truly tricky proposition. His hand doesn't quite open up all the way and so he couldn't fully grasp the carton.

"Max, you can't pick that up with one hand, you have to use two," I said.

"No!" proclaimed Max, and proceeded to keep trying.

"Max!" I said, more wearily this time, "there is no way you can pick that up with one hand."

He knew I was right. And so, he abandoned the milk carton and turned his attention to a package of Mrs. T's Pierogies, one of his fave foods. He almost succeeded in lifting it with one hand but then....

He looked at me, expectantly.

"I'm not picking it up," I said.

He gave a little foot stomp.

"You dropped it, you pick it up," I said.

Meanwhile, the cashier was watching us and I'm sure wondering why the heck I was refusing to help him.

"Arrrrrgh!" said Max.

I stared him down.

Finally, he used two hands to pick up the package and place it on the conveyor belt.


Then he returned to using one hand for everything else.


This time, I didn't say a word as he struggled. At some point, Max will have to accept that even though his left hand doesn't operate quite as well as the right, it really can come in handy.

I eventually pitched in with the heavier stuff. When everything was all rung up, Max and I swiped the credit card hand over hand and I let him sign. He went with his initials, and the legibility was pretty impressive. You can guess what the "FM" stands for: Fireman Max, of course.


  1. Promoting independence is a good thing, but not always. I can't work up the guts to ask for help.

    1. Good morning, Anna!!
      I completely understand, Friend!! I can have a hard time "working up the guts" to ask for help, as well. It is called stubborn pride!! Because I can do this, or I can do that.... Right? Because I don't give up, I'm no quitter.... Right? Having been born with more than one Life threatening birth defects, plus being a pneumonia survivor, I often say something to this effect.... "I ain't no quitter!! That's why I'm alive!!" {Plus, I am hard to kill!! And last but not least? God wanted me here!!} Stubborn pride. It is a positive, it is a negative, it's a blessing, it's a curse.... Right? ;-D
      But for some things, for many things.... For small things, for big things.... To quote Bruce Springsteen.... "You can't get to those things by yourself. You got to have help." I remind myself of this a lot.... ;)
      "Stay hard, stay hungry, stay alive", Raelyn
      PS. Sorry, long reply. This is why I cannot do Twitter!! Ha!! ;-D

  2. Ellen....
    Confession. I struggle with this.... With doing things for kids--for people--rather than letting them figure it out on their own, independently. Maybe this is because I can be a bit of a control freak? I work on it.... ;)
    And, interestingly enough? I learn best myself by doing something, experimenting, figuring it out on my own.... As opposed to people showing me, and/or doing stuff for me!! Those who I am in close proximity to completely understand this!! ;-D
    Good for you, Mama!! ;)
    "Stay hard, stay hungry, stay alive", Raelyn

  3. Way to use a teachable moment! The consistency and patience you show in allowing him opportunities to foster independence is inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I'm sure Fireman Max will appreciate your actions in the future as they are the best for him-he just doesn't realize it yet. Side note-I saw the initials FM and I immediately thought of my FM system (for my hearing loss)

  5. Yes I agree he will thank you for it later, it's tough as the urge to help when they are struggling is so strong but it is times like you described that they so important to remind them that a different way can help them xx

  6. Lol, I repeat the same "two hands" manta to my neurotypical 14 year old but for another reason - she ALWAYS has her cell phone in one hand!!

  7. When the boys were in preschool they had to answer a bunch of questions about their dad for Father's Day. One of the questions was "What is something your dad always says to you?" and Carter's answer was "two hands!" :-)


Thanks for sharing!

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