Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Shoelaces, Soap and Letting Go

As I sat here this morning, thinking of how I’m wasting precious minutes of my life while untying the multitude of knots in Sean’s shoelaces, I could only think back to that first blog entry from just over a year ago.

I wrote about how I one day picked up Sean’s shoes and discovered a normal double knot instead of knot after knot until the laces were at their very ends.

I was surprised, shocked, at how this seemingly normal habit had crept into our lives without me noticing.

A year later that “normal” has disappeared and once again we are back to one of the unique aspects that comprises my wonderful son, Sean.

I used to untie his shoes on a regular basis so he could practice tying them.  He has fine motor difficulties and it took him years…and finally his occupational therapist…to ultimately achieve independence from Velcro closures.

Once he learned, he never wanted to do it again and thus would tie his laces into a plethora of knots in order for them to never come undone…ever.

That is, until I would sit one morning with time on my hands and ruin whatever fingernails I had trying to undo my son’s minor obsession.

I’m not sure when the knotting began occurring again.  There have been bigger issues to deal with… more important fights to fight.

There always are, aren’t there?

So let him knot away.  Have at it.  His new shoes have already begun their journey with Sean’s fidgety fingers leading the way.

As for other battles that I can think over the last year….

Remember the liquid soap?  Kryptonite.  Absolute Kryptonite. 

I gave up that battle as well.  Is it worth torturing my kid so he can fit in with society’s bathroom norms?


I’ve tried different things over the year.  One was to simply drag him into the bathroom every day and try to de-sensitize him. 

Sometimes I wondered if we treated our prisoners better than I was treating my own son.

Thus, I gave up.  I shouldn’t say forever but for now, I have other things on my plate.
Sean’s currently taking a “Life Skills” class… think “Home Ec” for us oldies.  He asked for a bar of soap to take to school so he could wash his hands in class.

Wow…. solid thinking there.  Independence.

I was impressed.

Of course, I tried to convince him to just suck it up (ok… I’m not mom of the year here…) but he said no and I respected his wishes.

I did notice that he had used it.  A win for not only Sean but for any mother of a teenage boy!

I look at him now, on the verge of graduating from 8th grade, and I get anxious about his future.  How will he do in high school?  Will he find friends?  What life skills will he be lacking along the way?

I can only anticipate the battles and worry so much. 

And I’m tired.  Always so tired.

Thus, I will let Sean tie his shoes in whatever manner he pleases.  I will let him wage war against the liquid soap industry.  And I will try to guide him and support him, teach him, throughout his life.

But it’s time to start letting go and giving him the lead.

He did, after all, come up with the idea of taking a bar of soap to school for his class all on his own.

It was something so normal, so independent, surely a sign of him growing up.

Just like when I picked up those shoes a year ago and looked at the “typical” double knots, when, Dear World, did that happen?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Fran!

    I haven't followed your blog quite as much as I'd like, but today I had a good chance to tune in to it. Raeann is now a junior in high school, so we're a few years ahead of you in terms of the questions we ask about what will happen as our kids grow up. And there are so many of them (questions, I mean, not kids!). I think as the years go by they become more and more significant, too. Our questions have gone from how will she fare in high school? Will she make any close friends? etc, to will she be able to get a driver's license? Will (or, rather, SHOULD) she graduate? What kind of work will she find? Will she ever live independently?

    Farther in the future lie the REALLY big questions...Should she ever marry? Can she be a parent? What will happen when we're gone?

    Dwelling on those answers-- many of them No -- can be heartbreaking as a parent, but that's not why I wanted to comment here. I actually wanted to bring you some really good news and, I think, some hope.

    Quite honestly, high school for Raeann has been so much more incredibly wonderful than we ever could have hoped! Part of that is the support she receives at her school and the programs they have, part of it her own achievements and personality, but mostly it's the kids she interacts with at school. I can't believe how much positive support she gets from her peers -- it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it!

    In 3 years of high school (and this is a big school; think Conant or Palatine) she has sang with the show and concert choirs, earned varsity letters in track, tennis and bocce ball (where they've won 2 state championships!) through the county's Unified Sports program (a collaboration with Maryland Special Olympics that brings kids with disabilities together with kids without them), auditioned for and performed in the school's talent show, gone to Homecoming
    TWICE (including this year with the Homecoming King! - a student with Down's), and tonight is Opening Night for her school's production of the Wiz, where Raeann will play a Munchkin and a citizen of the Emerald City!

    So while the future is still a question mark, high school has been and still is a great experience for her. I hope that Sean is so fortunate!

    Back to the questions for a second, in the last year we've gotten to the point where we've started having to make decisions. The big one is that Raeann is no longer on the diploma track. Maybe she could get a diploma, but the real question is: Is it worth the truly Herculean effort and accompanying stress it would require? For her, what would it really get her? It's hard to admit, but college really isn't something for her. So, instead of continuously beating our heads against the wall to get her through her academic courses, and trying to get her to pass the required high school assessment tests (of which she's currently 0 for 4 in terms of passing), we're instead letting her take more of the courses that she will like and will have more relevance to her life anyway. In two years she will enter the county's SUCCESS program and receive practical job training and experience. She will do well, and she will continue to enjoy high school.

    Anyway, I hope all that babble helps a little! It's never easy, but these kids can be so amazing, too! Hang in there!


    PS. I hope you read your comments!