Monday, March 12, 2018
On not letting your child with disabilities get away with stuff. Mostly. Sometimes. Kinda sorta.
As all parents know, perfection is pretty much impossible when you have children, no matter what Instagram and Pinterest will have you believe. We all have to let go—of our ideas of what a "perfect" child is, a perfect home, a perfect meal, a perfect mother, a perfect dad, a perfect etc. And as many of us also know, parenthood sure doesn't mean your perfectionistic impulses go away. Me, I like to keep things super neat at home. Which is delusional, given that I have two teens, one toddler and one beloved partner whose talents do not include noticing things lying on the floor.
I usually spend a good half hour at night picking up after everyone, Dustbusting and putting stuff away. Because I know how to have a good time! There are two main places I'm especially particular about, because they're the easiest to keep clutter-free and nice looking: our kitchen and our bedroom. The kitchen was redone a couple of years ago and now has lots of storage, complete with places for socking away papers and chargers. Our bedroom is usually toy free and in good shape—I just keep the door closed.
Neatness is my chicken soup for the soul. It gives me the sense that my life is perfectly in control, even during periods when chaos reigns. For a long time after Max was born, and everything felt chaotic, having some sense of order at home was one of the only things that soothed me.
I got somewhat neurotic about keeping our porch swept and having people take their shoes off inside the house once Ben started crawling; I've read one too many articles in recent years about the bacteria, chemicals and dog poop people track into their homes on their shoes. If you're ever driving around suburbia and spot some lady in her bathrobe sweeping the porch at around 9:30 p.m., that's me.
Max is the only other person in the house who shares my love of order. It thrills me when he puts stop back in its place, both because he cares and because he's picking up stuff—organic occupational therapy for the win. And so, this weekend he grabbed a broom and swept the porch without my asking. Except there was dirty snow on parts of it, which he was smearing all around. I watched him from the front door.
It was awesome to see him using the broom. I wavered about saying something. I'm sometimes guilty of letting Max get away with stuff, because of the challenges he has with grasping and using his hands. I'll too readily pick up something he's dropped instead of letting him do it, pull up his pants for him because I'm in a rush or on occasion, let him dictate his homework responses so I type them instead of him. I know I shouldn't, but I don't always have it in me to push him to do stuff, especially if it's in the evening and I'm wiped out.
Still, I reasoned, if it was Sabrina dirtying up the porch, I would have said something. Why should Max get off easy? Why shouldn't I expect him to sweep perfectly? If he could push the dirty snow one way, he could whoosh it off the porch.
I walked outside. "Hey, Max, the snow got dirty and you need to sweep if off the porch, so it doesn't get the porch dirty," I pointed out.
"I KNOW!" he said, because: teen.
"Here, do you want me to show you?" I asked.
"NO!" he said, because: teen.
So then I motioned how to do it and he just sort of glared of me and went back to smearing the gross snow around the porch.
"BYE!" he said, because: teen.
And at that point, me and my perfectionistic tendencies slunk back inside.
There's nothing wrong—and everything right—about treating Max like I do my other teen. Which means I'm going to get 'tude...as with any other teen.