"By any chance, did Max tell you he had to take that big blue bag to school?" I texted her.
"That was the first thing he told me when he walked in," she responded. "He couldn't hold back his excitement."
Ah. That's when it occurred to me: Why hadn't I told Max to remember to take it to school? Because I was on autopilot and did what I've done for most of his life: I took care of things for him. Except this time I messed up and didn't, and Max handled it just fine on his own.
Letting Max be responsible for his needs is something I have to work at. After all, I expect his younger sister to be responsible for stuff in her life. A few times in the past couple of months Sabrina has forgotten her basketball jersey or her basketball shoes, despite the fact we've told her to get her stuff together the night before, and I've grumbled about Dave or me having to drive things over to school. I finally said that if it happened again nobody would be bringing her stuff.
Max has plenty of responsibility in him. He makes sure to do his homework and if it's Sunday evening and he hasn't yet gotten to it, he reminds us. Max looks out for Ben, cautioning him when he's about to do something he shouldn't (like climbing on our kitchen table so he can reach the sink f and squirt water everywhere with the pull-down faucet). He recently took control of our morning Sabrina-you've-gotta-wake-up drama. A couple of times, Max has reminded an evening sitter that he needs to take his anti-seizure meds.
One truth about raising children with disabilities is that even as they make progress, sometimes you as a parent don't. Maybe you're too used to handling things, why I took it upon myself to make sure Max's bag got to school. Or maybe, deep down, we are scared to let go—vestiges of a time when doing everything for our children gave us a sense of control that helped offset the fact they were missing typical developmental milestones.
I'm still doing as much as I can for Max. But he's not that helpless baby anymore, and I need to conscientiously treat him like the teen that he is. Besides, it'll be nice to let go of some to-dos.