First the disclaimer: Anyone who reads my blog with any sort of regularity knows that I love my son fiercely. I adore that child more than anything in this world. We all agree on that? Good. Now...
He is different. And sometimes as a parent it is SO hard to have a kid that is different. Ever since he was really little and we realized he had core muscle tone issues I have watched as other kids climbed and ran and played and swang and jumped and skipped...all while my child preferred to keep his feet firmly planted on the floor thankyouverymuch. He has gotten a little braver as time has gone on, but he is still no where near as daring as children his age. And sometimes that is hard to deal with.
Today we went on a field trip with his preschool (his first time in a school bus! He was SO excited...) to a little local zoo/park/play area. There are little kids "rides" and a little train thing and lots of playground areas and of course, animals. We had been there a few months ago for a birthday party and he had a great time. I even wrote about it here. And last time, when we left, I allowed him to walk through the little gift shop and pick out a little toy. He chose this little bucket of reptiles and amphibians and took it home and has had many an hour playing with it. So it stands to reason that he wanted to go back in that shop and find another treasure. So as soon as we arrived he started asking if we could go to the gift shop. I told him that if he was a good boy he could go on the way out. Then we proceeded to look at the animals (he digs that part of it). Once we left the animal section things got a little hairy.
I kept asking him if he wanted to go ride on that thing, or sit on that train, or go play on that structure etc... All of my requests were met with a "no thank you." And then they were usually followed up with a "can we go to the store now?" Since we were there with his pre school we kept running into people we knew and the other parents would say, "Little Jimmy is going to ride the train...do you want to come?" No thank you. "Hey, we are heading over to...want to join us?" No thank you. "Oh, have you been on the...?" No, I didn't want to.
And this is where I get frustrated at my own parenting. I was getting annoyed and angry at him. Here we were in this beautiful park with all sorts of "fun" things and all he wanted to do was go buy a bucket of bugs (which...dear god if you knew the amount of bugs we already have in our home...) and sit somewhere and play with them. He can (and does) do that all day, every day at home. Here we were on this amazing outing and all he wanted to do was go and sit in a corner and obsess on bugs. If I'm being honest, this is more about me than anything else. I want him to be like the other kids. I want him to want to ride the rides and play on the playground. And I want him to do those things so he is just like everyone else. So people stop wondering, "what's wrong with that kid?" "Why won't he do anything?" It's really on all me.
And this is where I need to shift. I am angry at myself for feeling that way. The fact is that he IS different. And he's amazing and smart and sweet and a wonderful little boy. And I need to stop wishing he would be "normal" and start advocating for who he really is. Instead of being the one who is annoyed with him I need to be the one supporting that he simply does not feel comfortable on those rides. He gets overwhelmed with all the kids and all the chaos. I know for a fact that if that park were closed to the public and he was able to explore things by himself, on his own time table, he would try most of the things and probably figure out that a whole bunch of them are fun. But with other kids (usually bigger kids because most of the kids are physically bigger than him) running around him from all angles he gets intimidated and would rather shut down. And instead of understanding and knowing that about him and helping him through it, I am one of the ones who get angry and annoyed at him. And it's so hard. Sometimes I feel like it's my duty as his parent to push him a little. And like I said, a lot of the things I just know he would like if he could give it a try, but he won't. And I think that's where my frustration comes from.
Moral of the story. Mantra to my own brain: Your child IS different. And that's okay. He is amazing in so many ways. Perhaps one day he will grow out of his trepidations, perhaps he won't. Either way, YOU are his parent. You are there to love and to protect him. Stop being such an ass!
For now I will settle for him only enjoying the things that somehow resemble a spider web...