Last night while with a group of friends a woman said to me (while telling ‘child’ stories), “I don’t know how you do it. You have a strange level of compassion and your ability to forgive is…well…not human.”
I took that as a compliment and then starting thinking (as usual).
Earlier in the day on a car ride Tucker lost it. Now, losing it may be normal for any child – the difference is the recovery time. Because his emotional intensity (Read Day #12 – My Emoticon) it takes him MUCH longer to come back. Much, much longer to recover from being frustrated, or hurt, or angry, or sad – or anything negative.
While he was in that ‘place’ I was thinking about an instance earlier in the day. I witnessed a mom and son having a disagreement in a restaurant. I couldn’t help but to eavesdrop (they were right next to me). I also have a habit of really watching other people interact with their children – because I’m always trying to figure out how we’re the same (and different). The mom wouldn’t let it go, whatever happened that is.
About every 2-3 minutes she would bring it up, repeat ‘I just can’t believe it’ and ‘I’m so disappointed.’ I just kept watching…wondering if that is how most people parent. Watching this boy about the same age as Tucker…wondering how his ‘recovery’ compares.
Watching and wondering because I can’t parent that way. Tucker would live in a repetitive cycle of self-defeating talk and behaviors. Something as simple as correcting him on a fact he has wrong can send him into an hours-long cycle of self-deprecating talk and self-harming behavior (yes, hitting himself).
So, when he misbehaves or does something ‘wrong’ we talk about it and then let it go, I move on – and quickly.
He doesn’t get ‘grounded.’
He doesn’t have to sit on a stool and ‘reflect on what he did.’
He doesn’t really receive punishment.
Because I forgive right away. Because it’s done. Because we need to move on. Because I can’t bear to see him deep in the negative cycle.
Later last night my cousin said to me, “I’m convinced that God really did give you Tucker. I could not do what you do.” On Day #166 – I’m Not Supermom I wrote about how I’m nothing special – and that most parents would work to get their child, understand their child, and be there for their child. I wrote that, as a parent, you simply become what your child needs to best succeed.
Although I would like to say I’ve always been full of compassion and quick to forgive – I don’t know that is true. I know I am now…I know that ‘having’ to be this way for Tucker has made me a better human being.
The woman who said this to me was telling me a story about some ‘wrongs’ she had committed. After I hugged her and said, “We all make mistakes – it’s about picking yourself up and moving forward in the best possible way.” Tears welled in her eyes…
If there is one thing I’ve learned in life AND from living a life on the spectrum it’s that people beat themselves up enough…by themselves. They certainly don’t need help feeling bad from anyone else.