Today a first aid kit ruined my day. You’re probably wondering how something that is typically pretty helpful could ruin someone’s day. Well, think of the first aid kit as more of a metaphor than just a first aid kit. Today it was a first aid kit, yesterday it was a water bottle, tomorrow…who knows. I will start at the beginning.
Grace, my oldest has some struggles. They interfere with her daily life at school and at home. While the struggles are minimal compared to the clientele that I have worked with, they certainly are frustrating because I know how to help her if I put my “Social Worker hat” on, but I typically have to take off my “mommy hat.” I have found in the past, the two do not mix well. For Grace planning is essential. In my professional life I am a planner, in my personal life not so much; probably because I have learned that when I plan for something at home and get all excited and then when/if the plans fall apart, I am crabby and then life is no fun. You see my husband is the spontaneous, last-minute, fly by the seat of your pants, i-don’t-like-to-plan type. So you can see that we are a great match! Nothing pains me more than having a perfect plan squashed by your soulmate wanting to insert his own “plan” into my methodically developed plan!
Everything (literally…unless it has to do with chasing a boy, seeing a boy, a boy is wanting to talk with her, or sugar) takes Grace twice or three times as long to do anything, hence why the constant need to plan. There are many days where she has asked to sleep in her uniform the night before and I have seriously contemplated allowing it knowing that it would save 30-45 minutes in the morning. I have had to literally pick her up and put her in the car to get to the bus stop. At this point, I probably have asked, told, demanded, pleaded, begged, bribed, consequenced, threatened to put on her shoes and jacket about 20 times. She’s screaming as I carry her to the car, but I have no other choice…one more tardy and child protection would be called; even though her tardies are all when she is already at school. Our drive to the bus stop, I try to make up for the awful morning that I felt we just had. Things start to turn around and she spies her first aid kit that she got from Girl Scouts. She starts to tell me about it and I engage in conversation all the while trying to not “poke the bear” with the lack of information that she has on some of the first aid items. In between her inquiries I again ask her to put on her shoes. She snaps at me and said she did. I say “thank you”. She continues to talk about this first aid kit and asked why it has [feminine] pads in it especially for a 9 year old. I said well like we talked about before some girls will need those at 9 or 10. She takes the pads out of the first aid kit and hands them to me and says she doesn’t want to bring that to school. I said, “fine.”
We get to the bus stop and have a couple of minutes to spare. I tell Grace that she needs to put the nail clipper back in the first aid kit because the bus was coming down the street. She stops clipping her nails to see if the bus was actually coming because apparently “I lie to her.” The nail clipper breaks. She starts to get upset and wants me to fix it. I tell her that it’s not fixable and we have more at home she can put in her kit. I look up and the bus is now here. I tell the girls to get their backpacks on. Grace says, “I would, but I have to get my shoes on and I want to bring my first aid kit to school.” I tell her it’s time to get on the bus. She starts to scream and cry and yell at me for being an awful mom and that I never let her do anything that she wants. She’s stressed.
This is the point when others are waiting on your child; who looks adorable, has a beautiful heart, and at first or second glance no one would ever think there is anything “wrong” with her. This is true there is nothing “wrong” with her. Life is just different with her…for her. She can be the easiest kid to parent, but also the most difficult kid to parent it depends on the situation. Every situation is different. That is what is so frustrating. One day she could be the first one in the car with everything that she needs for the school day…the next day the exact opposite. As a parent of a child like this, you will rack your brain trying to figure out “what did I do that was helpful that first day that I didn’t do the next?” The answer is simple…nothing. Constantly trying to figure out what helps will make you go insane. I know, I have been there trying to figure it out. I accept that some days are better than others. Some days she has more clarity than others or she is more intrinsically motivated…who knows. What I do know though, “out of sight out of mind” means a lot when you are trying to get a child like Grace out of your car who just informed you that her shoes are not on and the bus is waiting.
Grace knows she’s “different” than her peers. She tells me her peers get more gym time because they are done with their assignments or they don’t have to stay in for recess like she does or that she only has 10 minutes to finish her lunch because it took her 10 minutes to get to lunch.
My wish for Grace would be that more people got to see the side of her that makes her beautiful. For her 9th birthday, she wanted her friends to do random acts of kindness instead of give her gifts. For her first piano recital she wanted to play “Faithfully” by Journey because that’s the song her dad and I danced to at our wedding. For Christmas this year she and her sister went through their toys to donate to kids who don’t have any. She’s the first to point out “Tom’s mission” (which is actually a jet stream) in the sky that makes us all smile and think of Uncle Tom. She prefers watching the Food Network Channel to teach herself how to cook because apparently I struggle with that. Grace sticks up for those who are weak and does not care if it’s not “cool or popular” to do so. If Grace sees someone in need she helps them or wants to help them, she’s drawn to helping others.
Forget the bus, they can wait just a little bit…Grace is a better person than me, than most of us. The world needs people like her and right now she’s putting on her shoes…
…on the wrong feet.