7 Things I Swore I’d NEVER Do…

There’s a great quote I can’t find that goes something like this:  “Before I had children I had a few strong opinions.  Now I have a few children and no opinions.”  Wise words indeed.  But even more true for those of us raising special needs children.  For we never imagined the complexities and situations we find ourselves in.  My dad has always told me not to tempt God to prove you wrong.  These days, I find these to be even wiser words.  😉

Here are the seven things I swore I’d never do – before having a special needs child: 

1.  Have an un-toilet-trained child over the age of two.  Now, stop laughing at me.  It’s most unbecoming you know.  Seriously, my late and beloved grandmother was a firm believer that all children should be potty-trained by the age of one.  No, really.  And both of her children were.  She didn’t work outside the home at the time, and she spaced her non-special needs children seven years apart.  So, yes, she had the opportunity to use training techniques that many today would call “intuitive” or “listening to the child’s cues”, etc.  It worked for her.  So, I was of the opinion that we would early train as well.  Yeah, life is funny like that. 

2.  Allow my child to sleep in my bed.  I have all kinds of strong, yet useless opinions about sleep schedules and the importance of parents having a sacred space. I’m serious about that laughing.  You really must stop.   Our NT daughter was a good sleeper.  And, despite (or because?) of being a precocious little imp, she actually took two naps a day for us up until almost three.  And I am one of those obnoxious individuals who rarely needs a nap, falls asleep easily, wakes using a mental alarm clock, and doesn’t drink coffee.  So, my son’s sleep issues have probably been the hardest thing for me to adjust to.  Because I am so quickly alert, it is virtually impossible for me to go back to sleep once awakened.  And Callum was still waking approximately 4 times a night well past two years of age.  In light of my strong views, it’s kind of ironic that some of my favorite memories of him are the ones of us awake together in my bed, snuggling and quietly watching Yo Gabba Gabba in the wee hours of the night until he fell asleep again.  I have no idea what his future will bring, but I cherish every moment of that now while I can. 

3.  Allow a child over the age of one to drink out of a bottle.  Yes, my son can drink out of a cup with a straw and uses a sippy cup.  But he still wants to snuggle with me on my lap – and drink out of a bottle.  We confine this to home now.  But he is such a little sensory seeker that he craves this – touching my face, running his little hands and feet over my arms and legs, and pulling my hands to him to squeeze him.  And I’m a wimp to his happiness.  So, there you go. 

4.  Bring an electronic entertainment device into a restaurant.  Oh, I well remember my haughty disapproval of this.  I could not believe that some parents would allow their children to tune out others at a dining table and not learn good manners.  Now I carry my iPhone or an iPad everywhere I go.  It helps him tune out the background and focus– and us to catch a quick meal.   I know I should be teaching him social skills, but he isn’t there yet.  And I’m not willing to let him scream his head off in a restaurant.  There are people there without special-needs children- with their own stresses- who need a quiet meal too. 

5.  Allow my young children to watch TV.  I still don’t really approve of this in theory.  But I’m tired.  And no one has sent in backup.  Nuff said. 

6.  Share my son’s diagnosis.  I used to think that it would do him a disservice.  Now I think the disservice is not preparing his path in the world by helping the world to understand him.  So I tell anyone I think needs to know at any time. 

7.  Discuss my most private hurts, missteps, and worries in public.  I know that seems strange to hear for those of you who don’t know me personally.  But, in my day-to-day life, I am actually a fairly restrained person.  I don’t curse in public.  I’m pretty modest in my dress.  I’m so ridiculously afraid of embarrassing myself in front of others that I don’t even dance.  My friends have long amused themselves and shared stories of various pranks on their part to embarrass me by calling out my name on an intercom or poking fun at my need to be ladylike.  And you should have seen my horrified reaction when my husband decided to apologize for an argument on Facebook.   I’m not  a prude (though an enormous fan of Miss Manners), but I am of the opinion that there are just some things one does not do in public if one has any class at all.  Blame the southern belle in me.  But I’m also of the opinion that if you are going to do something, you should do it with gusto.  I think this blog qualifies, don’t you?  😉

21 thoughts on “7 Things I Swore I’d NEVER Do…

  1. Debra

    Well said! I was again mistaken for being “the grandma” the other day and I realized that it doesn’t really bother me anymore because I parent somewhere in between a mom & a grandma. I am old enough & wise enough to recognize when my children need that “extra care” because they are not developmentally ready to perform to the world’s expectations. When they have an 8 year old’s body but a 3 or 4 year old’s emotional maturity it is perfectly acceptable to allow them the nurture they need until they are ready to take on the task of being independent in that particular area that we struggle with.

  2. TulipsnHolland

    I often think about #2. My daughter doesn’t let me hold her for very long. A few seconds at most before she pulls away from me. How often I thought that I wish I could share the experience of cuddling up to her in bed like most parents do on occasion. She would never go for that though.

  3. Sandi

    I remember when my brother and his wife were preparing for their first child. They had all these Absolutes of Parenting they clung to and espoused loudly and with conviction.

    Until their child was born and all of those things they thought were so important were abandoned in the face of the realities.

    Basically, you parent and do the best you can every single day. In the end, you’ll love the relationship you have with your child and THAT is the only thing that really matters.

    That and don’t ever let them watch Barney. 😉

    Hang in there!

  4. Lana Rush

    Oh, how wise we once were – and then kids come along and show us just how little we really knew! :) I can relate to every single one of these – and praise the Lord for electronic devices at a restaurant!

    Adding your blog to my Favorites page.

  5. outrunning the storm

    before we had kids we would obsess about all the ‘screen time’ and how we didn’t want our kids spending all their time in front of a screen. Which seems ridiculous now, of all the things to worry about. Ironically ‘screen time’ is now a daily part of my son’s day. He uses tv and iPad to shut his brain down after a long day. Even though I could see how he seemed to need it I felt guilty about it until our school’s autism consultant told us to use it this year. He also learns better on IPad apps then in school and we use tv shows to discuss social skills concepts. So yeah, I’ve learned to keep my opinions to myself now.

  6. arianezurcher

    Oh I loved this post! Before children, (BC) I told my husband that we were not going to have any toys in the living room, that if their things didn’t fit inside their bedrooms, then we had too many toys! We live in Manhattan, bedrooms don’t come in any size but very, very small. Needless to say this announcement was ignored before my first was even born! The other memorable pronouncement I made was that my children would eat a healthy diet of home-cooked meals together, each and every night… NOT! Emma has shown me just how insane my thinking was, time and time again.

  7. Serial Mommy

    I’m with ya on the screen thing. When we go out to eat, Izzy’s iPad goes with us, fully charged. I’m even considering bringing the Olders gameboys and the Littles Leap Pads just so hubby and I (or whomever I’m with) can have quiet conversation. Admittedly, they do pretty well without all of that, but there are times when I want them to have it. Honestly, it’s usually at home on a Saturday night. It’s the end of the week and I’m beat and I want, no need that break. That peace it buys me. It’s worth it.

  8. Juli Pantzer-Yoos

    I can related to everything written here – as if you were in my own head! :) My son is five, not potty trained, we pay extra for that at daycare; asks to play “angry birds” usually the minute I walk in the door at night (no iPad here, yet); plays either angry birds or with his leapster at the “fanciest” restaurant we can go to (i.e. Cracker Barrel) as we have no “backup” for us to enjoy a real date night. Oh I can go on and on but won’t as you so eloquently said it for well, most if not all of us.

  9. Michelle

    Oh yes, I remember it well. How I stood there and passed judgement on parents in the shop………..”my children wont be behaving that way when I’m a parent!” and things like…………”I wont be using the TV as a babysitter in my house”……….

    Perhaps it is karma, I don’t know, but I have certainly eaten my words over the last few years, lol.

  10. Lisa Young @lybliss

    Love it!!! So true , I wish I could go back to the ‘ME’ I was before my son and give me a swift kick in the pants. I cringe at how obnoxiously opinionated I was. We do whatever gets us through. If that means Angry Birds at the Hilton so be it. And all those people TskTsk-ing at their own tables, one day your time will come. One day you will know a child like this, one day you will be friends with or related to a Mum just like me!

    We are having a bloghop for Autism awareness, I’d love any ASD bloggers to link up xx

  11. tegriest

    I agree with all of them, but #6 and 7 really resonate with me. I’ll do whatever it takes to help my children, but I’m so far outside my comfort zone!!

  12. Jim Reeve

    If I made a list it would likely be the same. I also swore that I’d never let my son stay home from school, just because he didn’t want to go. But we’ve all learned to comprimise. Before I was a dad, I’d picture what my son would be like and honestly he’s exactly as I imagined. He’s smart, funny and looks just like me. I just didn’t know he’d have Asperger’s. But I’d never change him anyway.

    1. Profile photo of FlappinessIsFlappinessIs Post author

      Your comment just made me smile. And I’m a teacher. Theoretically, I’m supposed to disapprove from him missing school. But I don’t. :)

  13. NYmom

    Number 3 struck me because just this morning an autism specialist at my son’s school made a comment about my son being much younger than his chronological age in terms of sensory development and that it’s good and right to meet him where he is in that regard. When I read your description of number 3 I thought, “bravo for you. you are giving him what he needs at his sensory level.” What else can a parent be expected to do. Revel in the happiness it brings him!

  14. V

    I think all of us had our list’s of things we’d never do when we had kids, and I think most of us have all gone back on them. It’s funny how judgmental you can be about something you don’t know anything about, before you have children. Lord knows I was :)

  15. rocalisa

    Oh, so totally yes, to all of these.

    And especially the restaurant one. My son is 8 (although he presents as a bit younger than that) and has ADHD rather than ASD, so while his issues are different, they can still be very socially disruptive. We’re lucky; he’s an avid reader, so I never go anywhere without a book (plus an old iPhone with the Kindle app on it). If I need him quiet (and oh, that sounds horrible, but I trust you other special needs caregivers will know what I mean) I give him a book.

    We were very wise before we were parents, weren’t we?


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