A few years ago Xave, taught me a lesson. Well, actually he has taught me many lessons. Some I already knew, but had forgotten or did not apply them. But this is about one particular lesson – the lesson of the t-shirt. One thing about having a special needs child is that one becomes used to doing for them. There are the gross motor skills, the fine motor skills and other skills which need to be developed and while these are being remediated, a parent assists where they need to. It’s what we do.
There is a trap though and it is the inertia of doing. It becomes a habit and one does not pause, step back and see if the capabilities have improved. One morning, I think perhaps four years ago, when he was five, I was dressing Xavier and picked up his t-shirt for the day. He quite literally grabbed it from me, with a look that implied he was thinking words no five year old should no, and put the garment on himself, deftly and the correct way around.
I told him how impressed I was, but I was mortified. How long had I held him back through my own inertia? I have always believed that in order for people to succeed, they need the space to try and if necessary fail. In raising a special needs child, I had somehow forgotten that principle. Xave is now allowed to fumble, to make mistakes, and to try again, with mom and dad providing direction and/or assistance should it be needed, but letting him continue to work until he succeeds.
Xavier, without saying a word, reminded me that he needed room to try and fail, if he was to develop and succeed. So many time my son is my teacher. I hope I am a good pupil.