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Parenting (and teaching) realizations

As parents, we know our kids better than anyone else. But sometimes, things pass us by. We watch our kids and learn their mannerisms and needs, but sometimes, subtle things fly under our radar. We don't put together the behavior patterns with bigger picture tendencies.

I just had a realization about Kae's behavior last night while Leigh and I were watching an amazing TV show (</Scorpion>). (You really need to go watch it if you're raising neurodivergent kids!) One of the characters is dealing with personal life things and avoiding emotions but diving into problem solving. Throughout his journey to solve the problem, we see that he fears the unknown. It hit me like a ton of bricks that Kae is in everyone's business because she fears the unknown. I knew Will and Leigh were this way--they deep dive into every single question and MUST know what is around every corner. Their autism and anxiety drive this. I don't think Kae has autism, but I have often wondered whether she has some mild anxiety. This need to know everything is at her core too, though.

I told Leigh the character in the show feared the unknown like Will and himself. Then, as little clips of weeks gone by rushed through my brain, I realized Kae does too. This realization will help me parent her more appropriately. I can help her as I have helped Will. Her need hasn't been as obvious as Will's, and it was hidden in her other mannerisms, but it is there. And now I can nurture it and teach her to cope with unknowns.

Another "ah-ha" moment I had parenting these amazing humans happened when Mack was about 2.5. He was examining his bike and hollered to me that he knew how it worked. He then explained to me about the pedals moving the chain, moving the wheels. My first thought at his initial announcement was, "PLEASE don't tell me you took it apart!" He had a habit of tearing everything in our home to shreds. I thought he was just a destructive kid. Like his mission was to watch the world burn at his hands. But when the thought popped into my head that I thought he'd disassembled his bike, I realized he was in no way destructive! He was learning. He was examining. He was taking things apart to know how they worked. From that point on, I was able to provide him with things that were acceptable to take apart! He no longer had to be watched every single second because some things were ok to take apart. This ah-ha was so freeing for us all. Even Will understood and relaxed about his toys when I explained Mack's needs.

My big "ah-ha" with Will was somewhat the result of my own denial. People asked constantly when Will was one and two whether he was on the spectrum. I KNEW he wasn't. He was just quirky I told everyone. Him lining up toys by size and color and type was totally a normal thing at age 18 months! I was blind to what was really going on. I could have gotten help for us all sooner had I listened to others. Will was seven before we sought diagnosis and help. His meltdowns were bigger and badder. He wasn't outgrowing them like I thought he should be. He wasn't coping better with changes in routine or expectations as I thought he should. He still couldn't make decisions (at 11, this is still an issue). He fought us about food more than he should have. I had tried some things like giving him choices for food, telling him maybes about routines, ensuring he was eating frequently to avoid blood sugar crashes, but nothing was really quelling his big needs. So we had him tested. As all those people suspected, he was autistic. I accepted it and dived into research. I learned how to watch him differently and communicate with him completely. While we're not without difficulty now, we are much better and growing.

My "ah-ha" with Rory occurred when she was just 2.5 and learning to write her name. It was a moment of sheer terror thinking back to my Kindergarten students who'd just been learning what letters were. Here I had a two-year-old writing her name and trying to read. She did in fact read by age three. Not those awesome "Bob" books either. Level two readers. Fluently. It was amazing to watch especially since I'd not worked very hard to teach it. I realized this child was not going to enjoy school and I needed to commit to homeschooling her. Now, at nearly 14, she has chosen to delay college a year due to Covid, but earned herself a spot in the local high school's honor orchestra.

We will miss things that our kids are doing and they will smack us in the back of the head when we recognize what's up. What parenting or teaching realizations have hit you like this? Do you need help figuring out some of your kids' quirks?

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