Friday, June 10, 2011

The untended garden: Why our kids don't always need us

I finally got around to looking at the vegetables we're growing. May was freaky busy, and I never found the time. But when I came home from work the other night, Dave was with the kids at the gym and I had a whole hour to myself. So I did something wild and crazy: I headed out to the backyard.

I didn't know what to expect. Maxsutawney Phil hasn't been spotted for a couple of weeks now, so he didn't seem like a particular menace, although the squirrels in our neighborhood are both numerous and aggressive, a bad combination. We'd never gotten around to getting the pepper spray or any of the other suggestions people had (sorry, Felicia). And watering? Not much. I was skeptical there'd be anything out there besides weeds.

But there they were: one green tomato and then, a ways down, a bunch of little red peppers, surrounded by weeds. I stooped down to look at them, amazed at their tenacity. Then I plopped down on the grass and hung out for a few minutes, enjoying the quietness and the fact that nobody was whining or fighting or demanding chocolate ice-cream.

I thought about the past week and how worried I'd been about Max and his cast, which had done him good (and which he had gotten very attached to). As I sat there, something occurred to me: Max is doing well not just because of what we do for him or his teachers or the therapists and medical pros in his life, but because it comes from Max.

This is something that's easy to forget when you're the parent of a kid with special needs. Some days, you feel as if all the responsibility rests on you to help your child, enable him, make him better. You forget that, like any kid, your child has it within himself to grow and thrive, no matter what the circumstances... just like those little peppers that could.

I headed back inside, feeling unusually calm. A few minutes later the kids came home whining and fighting and begging for chocolate ice-cream, of course.


  1. great post.
    they do surprise us don't they.
    with all the physio and fuss it would be asier to curl up in a ball but the don't, they thrive.

  2. Yep. You can hover, worry, smooth the path, guide, persuade, whatever...and they'll still do what they want to do and what makes them happy. They have minds of their own and they do know what they want! And sometimes, what they want is that pink t-shirt with the fringe on the sleeves....

    Whatever! Come on, summer vacation!

  3. Great perspective in this one, Ellen.

    Occasionally, I try to remind parents of the benefits of time (alone). It's a hard sell but this post gives the same message - better'n I ever could. Barbara

  4. Great post, Ellen! I've worked with kids whose parents obviously felt the need to program every minute. I could understand their sense of urgency: they felt that their child had so many challenges that they had to make every minute count, with OT, PT, ST, tutoring, etc. But they had lost sense of the fact that their kid needed some time just to be a kid: to daydream, be goofy, stomp in a puddle, explore the backyard. Thanks for saying it so well.

  5. Great post. Love the garden analogy.

  6. It's so true. It's hard to remember — with typical kids and SN kids — that we are just the bow and they are the arrow.

  7. Awww. I love this. AMAZING. I have been feeling like it is all up to me to have Carsyn succeed. Great post.

  8. You're the trellis, Ellen. Don't worry about the rest. Your little plants are growing beautifully.


Thanks for sharing!

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