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Stop Talking so Much and Start Saying Something

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February 13, 2014 by vlittle528

To be brutally honest, my son is difficult. My daughter is a lot easier to raise. I don’t know if it is because she is a girl, our personalities mesh easier, she is younger…whatever. What I do know is that I don’t love one any less than the other, but I do have a sneaking (read-glaringly obvious and sometimes loudly-shouted) suspicion that my son firmly believes I love my daughter more. She doesn’t get yelled at as often, I am not counting to ten before with her nearly as much, I am usually telling him to leave her alone and not the other way around, etc. Many of you may find yourself in the same position.

I don’t want him to feel that way. I really don’t. I just don’t have to work at my relationship with my daughter. My son isn’t so easy. I understand my daughter. Not so much my son. My daughter doesn’t test me. My son loves to test me. What I realized is that I talk a lot AT my son. There are a lot of words coming out of my mouth, but really, not a whole lot is actually being said.

What I don’t say often enough is that the pride I feel for him is enough to make me forget a week’s worth of “negative” incidents in that one positive. But it feels the opposite for him. What I don’t say often enough is that when he is sleeping or sick and snuggles up to me for comfort, I remember the days when it was just he and I spending our days together-and I remember it fondly. He doesn’t remember those times. What I don’t say often enough is that I miss him when he is at school during the day, and as he gets older and spends some weekends with his friends I miss him even more. Sadly, sometimes I think he feels like he is “giving me a break”. What I don’t say enough is that when I look at him my heart swells with a love and pride that other moms and teachers often tell me they can see in my eyes. He doesn’t hear the comments they make.

Having a twice-exceptional child is challenging, a challenge that brings such a feeling of accomplishment that it can’t be put into words. When I advocate for my son, when I spend hours of time, tears, and emotions towards getting him what he needs and finally see success, the accomplishment feels better than when I got the big raise at my first job. When a teacher who only knows my son in the hallways tells me how polite and well-behaved his is and then laughs at my look of “my son?”, I know that the extra effort I put into reading yet another book on how to help him paid off.

I was at a meeting with his principal and teacher the other day and I told them things that only I really know. I told them that he does NOT respond to negative consequences. In fact, they are a joke to him. Rather, my son needs trust. He needs to feel that people trust him, he needs to feel like people believe in him, and he needs to know that people are expecting the best out of him-not the worst. I told them that he needs to be moving his mouth and his hands and he will focus better. I told them that a secret wink and a “hey bud” in the hallway will mean a lot more to him than a sticker on a paper. I told them that he gets disruptive in class because he gets mad at you when he thinks you don’t think he can do harder work so he wants to “get you back”. Respect him, he will respect you. Love him, he will love you. Baby him, he will punish you. Discipline him, he will laugh at you. Challenge him, and he will reward you. It may seem like a lot of extra effort for just one kid, but I can assure you that the rewards of the extra effort are well worth it.

I am aware (now) that I was a much better mom before I was one. I knew the answers, I had plenty of opinions. I was among those people that would be telling the me now that my son needs to learn to adapt to the rules. That HE is the Kid and I am the Adult and what I say goes. That I shouldn’t learn ways to adapt to him, but the other way around. But my son is twice-exceptional for a reason. And the word I like to focus on is exceptional. I can either A. get mad at him and ground him or send him to his room and then get even more mad because he doesn’t seem to care and lets it roll off of his back or B. adjust the way I react to him from the beginning and allow the calmness we both feel to open the way to a discussion and in turn a lesson learned. I choose to go with B. And so far it is working.

An amazing thing happens when you stop thinking you are right and maybe it would be better to work WITH people instead of forcing them to work with you. I have found myself becoming a better person. I am a better mom, a better wife, a better friend than I used to be. I like myself more. I am happier when I am at home, I get more done, I see life in a different light. My son teaches me just as much as I teach him. And one of the things I am teaching him is how to get along with others. Just because I am older doesn’t mean my way is always the right way. Definitely doesn’t mean it is the only way. Sometimes my kids, in their innocence and love, know a way that far exceeds mine.

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