I got to talk to one of my friends in the bay area yesterday. Close friends, who I miss dearly. Their kids are also somewhere on the spectrum (seriously, what did I say about normal not existing? Atypical is the new cool. I’m telling you).
Her daughter has some language processing issues, and given that my friends here all have typical kids, it’s nice to bounce questions off of someone else. Someone who understands. I hear a lot of similarities between her daughter and the Mini, and I think, well, that sucks that another kid has to go through that, but “dude, you get it. You so get it.” It’s also nice to know what to possibly expect up ahead. Driving around in the fog is frustrating.
Apropos of our conversation last night, I was telling her about our horrible experience earlier in the evening with the game duck duck goose. A harmless, fun childhood game, right? Not so much for the Mini. Last night, a large group of our regular playdate kids, most of who he has known as far as he can remember, sat down to play duck duck goose. I tried to coax him into playing. ”Come on, it’ll be fun. You get to chase people, baby, you LOVE to play chase.” All he wanted to do was go off in a corner and roll a car back and forth in front of his face. So I picked him up and brought him over and sat him on my lap and told him he had to play. He thrashed and kicked, and threw a screaming fit on the floor, and while I tried to be calm and collected, I made him sit and watch, when he refused to play. His option was sit and watch, or go home.
I forced my kid to play a fucking game. I feel like mother of the year.
Now, in general, I never force him to play with other kids. I try to direct him, but I’m pretty lenient with him overall. Letting him off the hook in regards to participation in groups. Letting him “socialize” when he’s feeling up to it. It’s rare when he does. And when he does, his imaginative play is limited. It upsets me to watch, but I’ve learned to accept it, and hope that as he matures, he’ll learn. I can only hope.
But last night, something hit me. I wanted to be the mean Mama, and force him out of his comfort zone. A more unfamiliar house with seven other children running around, and being loud, it was completely the wrong time. But dammit, I was going to make him play this stupid game. Disaster be damned.
On the way home, I asked him why he didn’t want to play. He told me he was sad. I asked him what made him sad. The only answer I could get, was duck duck goose made him sad. That’s as far as it went. I asked him if he would try playing the game with just us, at home, and he said, yes, but at that point, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t listening.
The Mini is getting an aide at school, which is a good thing. I don’t know how much his teacher pushes him to step out of his comfort zone, and truthfully, with 12 kids in the class, it’s not her main priority. She does what she can, but she’s limited in her time and resources to be able to help him in the way she needs. The Mini likes to fall through the cracks when he can, in order to avoid doing what is expected of him at times. He needs someone to push him harder. I know I need to push him harder.
But I feel like I don’t know how far is too far. Was making him play a game (a failed attempt) pushing him too hard? What should I expect from him at three and a half. What should I expect from him in regards to his learning differences? I don’t want him to grow up feeling as I did. Like my parents were constantly up my ass, and yet, still always disappointed in me.
This isn’t in the manual.