Monday, October 20, 2008

Too Two

Peaches is two and a half years old, and I think some law somewhere says that entitles her to a few free passes on behavioral expectations. As in: her reign of (near) saintliness had to end some time. And end it has. She asked for a cup of lemonade, and then proceeded to dump it on her head, for instance.

Don't think for a minute I'm letting her just get away with it. But I'd be lying if I didn't say I have been reexamining closely my expectations for my NT child, and how they might reflect life with a kid on the spectrum.

I don't know how many times the presenter at one of our school's inservice days used this same line in his speaking engagements, but I know 6 years later I still regularly think of him saying, "Fair doesn't mean giving each child the same thing, it means giving every child what they need." I think this needs to be in the teaching Pledge of Allegiance.

I don't have a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching, so I can't see having one to parenting, either. I expect different things from Peaches than I do from Rooster. It's not really quantifiable in terms of MORE or LESS, but it's certainly different.

When Peaches poured lemonade on her head (and, consequently, the kitchen floor), I put her little butt on time out, loudly. What would I have done if Rooster had pulled the same stunt? Hmmmm. Hard to trust my hindsight, but I doubt I would have had the same level of reaction. The rooster doesn't have more trouble regulating his behavior because he's a BAD boy, but because his physiology plays a big part in it, and he can't help that. He, also, doesn't get a free pass that says AUTISM across it. But would time out HELP him? Not a chance. It helped Peaches -- she won't pull that stunt again -- so, to me at least, what might look like a double standard, seems fair.

I bet some of you will disagree. I'm open. If I'm doing it all wrong, help me learn.

Today one of my best friends left a gift in my mailbox at work: adorable little t-shirts, leggings, a skirt, a dress... all size 3T for my little Peaches. If you read this blog, you are expecting this part: I welled up when I read the card, saying Peaches deserved a Just Because gift. My guilt kicked in for a split second: did everyone think Peaches gets the short end of the stick at our house, with so much attention on the Rooster? No, it's not easy having a sibling on the spectrum, just like it's not easy having a child on the spectrum, but it has its gifts, too. And I'm not just talking about cute pink outfits, either. I hope that the Peaches will learn from her brother as much as she teaches him, that she will grow stronger and wiser, more patient and tolerant because of him, and that they will become friends in a way my brother and I never did.

Mostly right now I hope we all survive the terrible twos and preschool.


Anonymous said...

Wow. I think that principal hit it right on the money. That, my dear, as you already know, is a statement which is true on many levels.

I have a question, though: how do I sign myself up for a Just Because gift???

PBear said...

You're quite right - to each what they need - life isn't ever going to be 'fair' in a child's eyes anyway (heck, it isn't fair in most adults' eyes!) so you just start them off up front knowing that sometimes someone else gets more of a break than they do, or sometimes there is more expected of them - and you know, sometimes it's the other way around.

I don't know when the NT/girl is the younger, nor when they are so close in age, but my daughter (15) is my son's (11) biggest advocate. Sure, she gets ticked off occasionally that he gets 'special' treatment, but she doesn't really resent it. And yes, she does stomp out of the house sometimes when he's having yet another meltdown at 150 db. But let anyone say anything mean about him in her hearing, and they'd better watch out. And she can get him to do his horn practicing FAR better than I can. It has taught her patience, to not judge others without knowing all the facts, and unconditional love directed at someone in addition to herself, which I think is also important to see.

jen said...

I have a 2 1/2 year old as well - the other day I found him drinking out of the bottle of maple syrup in the middle of our kitchen floor!'s as if once the 1/2 kicked in we've entered a whole new world of chasing....and trying to keep up & keep on top of -

We have three very different chidren & I think they all need the same "guidelines" certainly - manners, respect, responsibility or course! - but their discipline is seldom the same - Micah seldom responds to a harsh tone & his sister has a heart that breaks as the hint of a rebuke - the littlest we're stil wading through a bit

- again, YOU are thier mom & YOU are the one who knows them best - that is why they've been entrusted to're doing fabulously -2 1/2 year olds are challenging. I wish you much grace in your parenting journey my friend - we all need our fair share of it!