Monday, June 16, 2014

To Break, To Train, or To Guide

I started this reflection a few weeks ago, and finally have some time to get back to it...

My daughter is strong willed. Very strong willed. She has Down syndrome, and people with that extra 21st chromosome are often known for their stubbornness. But Sofia takes it to new heights. A family history of OCD (my side), inflexibility (dad’s side) and all-out strong personality (both sides) have given her extra strength.

She also has a habit of totally ignoring people. Unfortunately, this often extends to her father or my mother or my sister. When these supposed-to-be authority figures tell her to do (or not do) something, she is more likely to completely ignore them than to obey.

I’m mom. I’m with her more than anyone else, and I know how to get her to do things. I know how to be patient, because she’s not going to just jump up and comply. She has to go through her own rituals in order to get out of the bathtub, or turn off the TV, or clean up her toys. She has her own unique, individual style. And I know when to pick my battles, when to turn on the stern voice, when to cajole, when to let her know I’m getting angry, when to let her know it’s a safety issue.

As you may imagine, this causes some tension in the family.

My mother tells me “You have to BREAK her of this!” as if Sofia is a horse. “You have to let her know who’s in charge.” While I may joke that Sofia knows that she is in charge, I really do not think this is a valid argument.

In fact, whenever I’m told I have to “BREAK” my daughter, I just want to scream, “WHY? She’s already perfect! Why would I want to break her?”

“We’ve lost the opportunity to train her,” my husband complains.

Train her? Like a dog?

What I want for my daughter is channel her energy. Get her to understand that things go in a specific order. “First do your homework. Then climb the rock wall.” Help her see that it really IS time to get out of the bath. Even if she is angry about it. She has every right to BE angry, but being angry doesn’t get her out of doing things.

All three of my children are Unique. Special. Individual.

I never want to “Break” them. I want to help them learn how to use their own unique and individual styles to move through the world. Help them learn how to communicate their needs. How to advocate for themselves. How to navigate social interactions. How to BE.
Not so much to ask, huh?


Ok, in other news, since I have not updated this thing in ages:

It’s nearly the end of the school year! Micah is actually finished with 7th grade; the last day of school was Friday and they are on a field trip today. He made such giant strides once we moved him from 6th grade to 7th grade mid-year. He really completed all the work, and brought his level of quality, especially his writing, way up. He’s a kid who rises to a challenge.

He had a great time participating in “Shrek The Musical” with the Framingham Performing Arts Center (PAC). He’s VERY popular with girls. He has an official girlfriend, but is frequently surrounded by other girls, especially on the Bar Mitzvah circuit. I probably should change his name to Valentino...

I’m going to miss him when he goes to camp this summer, but I know he’ll love it. And we were thrilled to find out this weekend that one of his bunk counselors is a kid from our shul, so he’ll have someone he knows right there with him.

Sam is nearly done with freshman year of high school. He’s in Exam Week now, and has completed two out of four exams. He’s looking forward to spending the entire summer at camp (Micah’s only going first session), and then wants to return to camp the day after he gets home so he can do the entire week of USY encampment also. Not sure about that.

He’s made his way in high school. David and I still have to constantly remind ourselves that Sam is an Introvert and we are Extroverts and That’s Ok. It’s tough! But Sam did love playing on the Ultimate Frisbee team for school, and made friends with a handful of other kids, too (including the son of one of David’s college friends!).

Miss Sofia is about to finish second grade. This is a big transition time for her. Last Thursday was her very last day as a student at MWJDS. There’s no way her split schedule would work with the rigors of third grade (especially since the Judaics become more text-based and she’s just a beginning reader). So now I have to figure out what to do about her Jewish education. I’m trying to figure out how to convince Gateways to do a satellite program in Metrowest, since I cannot bring her to Newton every week. If they don’t do it, I guess it’ll be up to me. Fortunately, I know lots of good people out here who could be involved.

She’s also moving up to a different school next year (Ashland groups all students K-1-2, then 3-4-5, then middle school, then high school, into different campuses). I think I’m more nervous about the transition than she is. She’s been at the Warren School for 6.5 years, since she turned 3, because the preschool was there, too. It’s going to be interesting.

She started taking the special needs Van to and from school a few days each week. Next year she’ll take it home, and take it to school only on the days when I don’t work at MWJDS (which might mean one day a week).

I’m going to be the Marking Associate next year at MWJDS. Cool. I really love working there!

Oh, AND I’m going to be one of the Gala Honorees! December 14. Cool!

David has been traveling less, but still off and on. He’s trying to be more involved in the kids’ lives, which is good. We are looking forward to spending time together this summer, especially since the boys will both be away ;)

Trying to start planning Micah’s Bar Mitzvah, and getting the front porch expanded, and might need a new refrigerator, since ours is leaking (David tried to fix it, but it’s still leaking). And I need another tire on my crappy minivan - tires should really last more than a year, right?

Enjoying the sunshine today.