"When children know their differences will be supported by you saying you will never stop trying ways to help them find their very best voice, their fears rest." - Peyton Goddard
Tomorrow, I will drive myself and one of my daughters five hours south. I've told her we are going to the "big city," and promised we will go shopping to get her some shoes that won't squish her feet, before we go spend the night in a "room." We'll take the car to the "car doctor" the next morning, and then we're going to see a doctor who wants to see "how well you play." Then we'll get the car back from the car doctor, and drive the five hours back home.
The adult version is we're finally getting recalled parts replaced in our vehicle, and we're having another developmental evaluation done on Ladybug.
I picked up two books from the library that I'm having a hard time putting down. One is The Spark, about a mother raising a child who is a genius. The other is I Am Intelligent, about a mother raising a child who is autistic and becomes mute after abuse. When I scanned them in the library, I was drawn to them because they are both mothers whose children are different. They don't fit the mold. And both moms doubted themselves. They wondered if they were making the right decisions, and they felt alone.
I'm sure every mom doubts herself, and every kid is unique. But there's a distinct difference in my feelings and thoughts about parenting Ladybug and parenting Turkey. Turkey's a pretty typical kid. She's not easy, at all, with a dangerous combination of stubborn and cute. But her temper, and her refusal to get in the pool... and her inability to follow the crowd and therefore going the wrong way while playing London Bridge simply cracks me up. Turkey will figure things out. She'll adapt. With simply love and prayers for wisdom, she'll go far. She's charming, and smart, and is going to be fun to watch turn into a young adult.
I'm out of my depth with Ladybug, though. So much potential... so much intelligence... so much personality. Locked up. Trapped. I get glimpses. And I want the rest of the world to see those glimpses too. Her love for books, love for learning... the experiences she's had in her short life, the creativity and persistence she can show when she sets her mind on something will take her far.
Sunday, I walked Turkey back to the nursery, and Ladybug to children's church. We do this every week. But I wanted her to walk on her own power, with the other children, to her class. She knows the adults. She knows the other kids. She's familiar with the church. So I positioned her in the front of the crowd, hoping they would sweep her along. I told her to go with them. Told her to follow the adult, by name. And then I kept walking... hoping she'd go. Hoping if I just let go, she'd do it by herself.
When I got to the other side of the large room, I turned to make sure she was following her classmates and teacher. She hadn't moved. I could have kept walking to the nursery and back again and she still wouldn't have moved. So I went back, took her by the hand, and guided her into the classroom. I gave her a gentle push, told her to go sit with the others, to listen to the teacher, and to have fun.
When I walked back from the nursery, I peaked around the corner to check on her. And what I saw nearly broke my heart. She was sitting. She was listening, or at least not making noise. But she was a full two feet from every other person in that room. In the very back. Alone.
And it brings tears to my eyes. Alone is no way to live a life. Solitude is good, and very important to us introverts. But you have to let people in. You have to let a few people get close. Friends are important. And I have no idea how to help her with that.
As I've read I Am Intelligent, Peyton, the autistic adult, speaks about how her mother's chronic worry affected her. How she felt like a disappointment to her mother, yet her father looked at her as joy and accepted her just the way she was. And her mother didn't mean to view her as a disappointment; she simply loved her and wanted the best for her. And I wondered if my concerns for Ladybug come across the same way as Peyton's mother's did. But then I read the quote at the top of this post. And I thought, yes, this is a promise I have made to my child.
So we will drive tomorrow. And when they ask me what I hope to get from the appointment, I may break down and cry. Because all I want, is to know how to help my child. How to help her find her best voice.