Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mom mystery of the universe #29,037: Is it wrong to put one over on a child with special needs?

Sabrina's 5th birthday party is today; Max keeps insisting it's for him. We're going to a gym for playtime and blue-frosted cupcakes, and you can be sure I am bringing the big bottle of purple sugar to sprinkle on some for Max. I don't leave home without it.

This morning, Dave and Sabrina were running out for a swim lesson and I needed a hair tie for her. The only one I could find was purple. Max saw that I was about to put it on Sabrina and had a total meltdown. I mean, it's not like he wears hair ties, although he did come home in one from the daycare center when we went skiing in December. I'd thought he'd recovered from his afternoon as Maxine, but perhaps no.

Now, this would have been a fine teaching moment to help Max understand that he needs to share things, including his love of the color purple. Or just put my foot down and let him wail.

But I needed to get her out the door.

I needed to keep the peace.

And, truth, it's awful to see Max get so distraught.

So I distracted Max with some talk about cupcakes, stealthily handed the purple band to Dave, they dashed out the door and Max forgot all about it.

I said something to my friend Marah afterward, who's visiting us. It feels wrong to pull the (purple) wool over the eyes of a child who has special needs. It's not the first time I've done it (or with Sabrina, either, but I never feel guilty with her, just victorious).

"It's OK! Moms with little kids do that stuff all the time!!!" she said.

Exactly: moms of little kids. Max is 7. He's not developmentally 7, but still. He's getting to be a big boy.

I think I have to stop being a weenie.


  1. Yea, I also feel bad when I (rarely) do such things.But in the end, it is a kindness for all involved, including the special-needs child

  2. I do that with Orion (aged four) and I can't even say it's because of his disability, because his disability is so mild. Just know that we all do it sometimes - choosing the path of least resistance is built in to us when we have stuff we need to be doing!

  3. I don't think it's any more wrong to do so with our special needs kiddos than it is to do it with our typically developing ones. We moms need all the ammo our peace-keeping arsenal can hold! And if it is 'wrong,' does that mean I have to spill the beans about Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny, too?! Say it isn't so!

  4. We call this the 'distraction method' in our house and I use it on all three children, even on my typical 7 year old (almost 8). If I hit the right distraction it still works a treat:) Nope, no guilt:) Jen.

  5. Honey, if it makes you feel ANY better..I'm still pulling the proverbial wool over my older kiddos eyes when needed. (Ages 12 and 13..Shh, don't tell them.) I agree with all of the other Mom's..sometimes we just need to pull whatever we have out of the aresenal!

  6. My uncle recently shared with me his philosophy on answering kids' questions when it comes to "tricky" stuff. You can either be vague or play stupid.

    For example: "Dad, is santa real?"
    "Do you think he is?"
    (He picked play stupid, most of the time)

    I have to be honest his philosophy made a lot of sense, and explains a few key moments in my childhood.
    So no it isn't wrong, in a sense, because we all do it to children disability or not.

  7. Good grief, Ellen, you ARE tender-hearted!!!

    Now, that's a good thing, don't get me wrong--you're riding first class on the Karma train...but if it needs doing because there's just no other solution, or you just aren't in a mood to deal with it, and you can get away with it, I say GO FOR IT. Pass that hair tie over, and don't feel guilty, not one bit.

    Save the teachable moments for times when there's nothing going on, and you have the time and the mental/emotional energy to focus on the issue--after all, it is Sabrina's birthday, and she probably would rather her special day not be punctuated with high-volume agita from her brother over a purple hair tie.

    Happy birthday to beautiful and clever little Sabrina! A swim lesson in the winter! How neat--she must feel like a little mermaid!

    Don't beat yourself up over this little "con." You did the right thing to keep the wheels of your household greased. You're a great mother!

    As for "little kids"--my mother says they're still "little" to her even when they're over forty! Pity she can't successfully "distract" me from her delicious mashed potatoes and desserts! I'm just too damn focused on that good home cooking!

  8. I think one of the hardest things for me is remembering that yes, Gabe has spina bifida, BUT he's also a five year old. I've always put his needs above everyone else's but now that he has a little sister, I'm seeing that it's not going to cut it to always give him what he wants, if you know what I mean? Being a mom is SUCH a balancing act.

  9. Is it wrong to pull one over on my husband? :) I use that same distraction method with him all the time!

  10. Shame on you, Ellen! Just kiddin'...LOL :)
    I have to admit a dirty trick of my own. Faith has a tendancy to obsess over certain books, we read them over and over and over. So after about 800 times in a row, sometimes I will distract her and hide the book behind the couch cushion. We find them all the time! It totally confuses her, she looks all over for them. Bad? Who me? Naw....

  11. I had to laugh because I know all parents do this. The funny thing is that my mother still tries to use this tactic with my sister and me--and we are in our 30's! Yeah, I don't think she thinks we get it! She recently ordered my sister some moisturizer from the Q, as she calls it. She tried to hand it to my sis on the down-low--like I would cry that I didn't get any moisturizer. She thinks all has to be equal between us still. Seriously!!

    I think parents have to do what we have to to survive. Last night, I let Emma sleep in her watch because she was whining like it was going outta style because I took it off to bath her. I was exhausted, so I gave in. I put the stinking thing back on her, like she was going to check the time while she slept. (I did this knowing that she would likely scratch her face up with it during the night. And she did! But I went to bed happy, and Emma did too!)

  12. First things first - girlfriend, you need to go get more hair ties.

    Secondly, I JUST had this conversation with my husband today. Foster, too, is almost 7, but emotionally, he's about 2, 3 on a really good day. We have no choice but to meet him where he IS, not where his age says he SHOULD be.

    Do what you've gotta do, but try not to go down the guilt path. You certainly don't deserve that.

  13. You mean I'm wasn't supposed to tell the kids that Chucky Cheese was sick or Minnie Mouse had a cold (when we didn't see her at WDW), or other such things ?!

    None of this stuff will work with my kids anymore. Even though Luke is 7, but developmently much younger, I have never been able to do this because we can have a conversation - ugh! There are times when REALLY wish I could use a distraction technique with him.


Thanks for sharing!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...