Thursday, November 10, 2005

A Parent's Pride

My boys are both wonderful young men. At 9 1/2 and 12, they are maturing before my eyes. We have their school photos arrayed on the fridge and scanning across them is like seeing a time-lapse movie. My eldest has photos from Kindergarten to the most recent at grade 7. My youngest from K through 4th grade. Each stage, each phase has passed in a blink of time. When I read over my own journal from say 1997, the issues that consumed me--day and night--are not even on our radar screen.

Things change. Children grow.

When P. was 3 years old, a change in his normal nap time would lead to explosive melt downs. Long before Hans Asperger was even a twinkle in our diagnostic eyes, our family had already made some of the structural changes that P. needed to succeed. We previewed changes, practiced social interactions, used deep pressure hugs for calming, kept a predictable schedule. No one taught us to do these things; they were what our son needed.

Things change. Children mature.

Now he is tottering on the edge between childhood and adolescence. Some days he leans closer toward one than another, yet he is handling the dangerous quicksands of impending teenage-hood with poise and thoughtfulness.

Things change. Our understanding shifts.

In respecting the struggles and triumphs of my boys, I am healing something in myself. I can look back at my very private battles in childhood and wrap the me-who-was in a deep, fierce hug. When I help P. slice through the tangle of social puzzles, I am doing the same with my child-self. In giving permission for my sons to have their strengths and weaknesses, I also give myself permission and learn to work with my nature, not against it.