Tuesday, March 8, 2011
It's All or Nothing...That's How We Roll!!!
Sam has often helped me to clarify my perception on life and who I am. I have figured out that we can be an all or nothing kinda family. Let me try to explain.
So Sam has been working on rehabing after hip surgery. He did fine with the wheelchair but when the walker was introduced Sam decided to take a stand (oops bad pun) not literally stand but he made it clear he didn't want to use the walker. Now most people/children would work on standing and then taking a few steps each day, slowly getting used to the new way of walking.
Most people...but not Sam.
When I first showed Sam the walker he proceeded to yell at it, hit it and push it over saying quite clearly, "No, Go Away!" As most of you reading this blog know, I tend to be a bit...okay a lot...sarcastic. With a puzzled look on my face I said to Sam "It's a walker, Sam, it's not like I'm asking you to do a high jump over it, we're just going to practice taking a few steps." Sam proceeded to yell and hit it again which of course caused me to do my funny little walker voice saying "Please don't hit me, I am only here to help you". Which Sam answered with "Be quiet n go away". That's one way to get an almost 5 word sentence out of Sam. I then deducted that possibly Sam was a little sensitive or touchy about the walker and decided to de-sensitize the problem. Now keep in mind I once had the idea to desensitize Sam's overt reaction to band-aids by waiting until he fell asleep and then proceeding to cover him from head to toe in band-aids. I'm not saying my ideas are always well developed, my mind did give me some mental imagery of Sam going into cardiac arrest upon waking and seeing the band-aids and I rationalized that my idea would only lead to further more complex complications. So I eased back and decided I would put the walker in the same room Sam was in and would often chuckle when I would hear him yell at it. Yeah, you know I was tempted to answer for the walker but that would probably only continue to irritate Sam, if it was Ben, I would have been right on it. What did that walker ever do to him anyway?
After a week or so Sam must have made friends with the walker, because one morning while I was getting ready to take my shower (yep, a lot happens around here when Mom takes a shower) I heard a mysterious click/step and filmed this:
So he wouldn't even consider taking a few steps with Mom's help but would be more than happy to venture out on his own on multiple surfaces with no assistance and walking like he's used a walker all his life all the way across the house to get to...of course...food. When there's a will (or in Sam's case...refrigerator) there's a way. No need for instruction he had figured it out and had mastered it.
Now when I stopped to think about this it reminded me very much of Sam's first experience learning to walk. Sam did not walk until after he was 3 years old. He did not really cruise along the furniture, nor did he like to walk holding your hands. He just began to walk one day. It was all or nothing.
Hmmm, Sam learned to ride a bike the same way. As soon as he could pedal he had mastered steering, braking and escaping from the house. All or nothing.
Sam started swimming with his face under water, kicking and with arm movement, coordinating all the areas. All or nothing.
Sam didn't work on playing basketball until he began to make most of his shots. All or nothing.
Here's the kicker, it's not just Sam. It seems to be a family trait or dynamic. How Jeff runs his business, how Ben works and how he approaches school, how I look at working with families or the playground project, how Danielle dreams about her future...all or nothing.
I have come to respect that this is one of many dynamics of our family and it has it's good points and bad. I worry about this strategy for Sam and I also love this strategy for Sam. When Sam approaches a new aspect or concept of schooling he fights it tooth and nail. Sam like Ben wants to know why he needs to know or do that activity. Ben often tells me that he will never use much of what he has learned in school and when I think about Sam that reality hits me even harder. Does it matter if you understand the periodic table of the elements, does it matter if you understand the history of our country, does it matter if you know all of the presidents and when they served, does it matter if you can do algebra and geometry, does it matter if you can read notes of music???? It does if you think about the idea of experiences and the thought process that through experiences a child can develop their personality, likes, dislikes, interests and passion. What I don't like about how schools are currently set up is that they are covering a lot without allowing a child to really jump off and explore their interests, immerse themselves in them and really help them determine their passions and direction. You know...run with the ball. With my children I have always wanted to allow them many different experiences. In my mind the more experiences the more they develop their personalities and interests.
Without the challenges of Sam and Ben my knowledge and interest in special needs children and their families would have never happened. It wasn't where I was headed but I'm glad I got here. As I continue to work with Sam and my other children I need to pay special attention to what makes them do all or nothing. I need to continue to introduce new things but respect their decision to do all or nothing. I need to develop the areas or interests that make them want to jump in and immerse themselves. I see far too many people doing jobs they hate, living in situations they hate or limiting their experiences in the justification of doing what is right or what is expected. I hear people talk about dreams that they believe will never come true...pipe dreams. Why not? When is the last time you dreamed of something you really wanted to do, when was the last time you asked your spouse what their dreams are? If you have a child with special needs, are you allowing yourself to dream about their future or will you determine that future by the lack of your dreams.
All things are possible, if we believe but first we must dream!