A Helping Hand

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to practice something called: Letting it go.  Feel free to break out in song.

There will always be somebody who thinks they know how to better parent my kids.  Heck, I have probably had that same thought about you.  (Just keepin it real people.) Truth is, parenting is one of those hot topics. It often feels like there is one right way to do things and many wrong ways.  Now tie in the special needs kids.  There is ALWAYS better parenting techniques for them.

Michael wanted to skate at the fair and it was a much better deal than the rides.  Mr. Sexy and I had no desire to skate ourselves so we rented the two kids skates and set them free.

After a few minutes this is what we were watching:

In these moments it appears they had given up.  It’s over.  It’s too hard.  I’m stuck.  I can’t do it. 

But just give it time…

Michael was right back up and across the rink.

Falling the whole way.

Marie, on the other hand, stayed in her same general position.

Now, Mr. Sexy and I had made the parental decision to give both kids free reign to skate and fall as they pleased.

This meant Michael might end up with a bruised tail bone and Marie would most likely not get much farther than the above picture.

We knew this.  And we were fine with this.  We were looking forward to seeing how both kids did with this small amount of freedom.

A stranger, however, seemed to have different thoughts.

Before getting skates I had stopped to admire the purses and skirts a lady had made with ties.  Only ties. The kind of ties men wear to church or to work or on picture day.  She seemed to price them reasonably and if I had the money I may have bought one just because they were so unique.

Well, that same lady didn’t waste much time in approaching us as we stood and laughed and pointed at our dorky kids who didn’t know how to roller skate.

“Would you like me to go out there and help her?” the lady asked.  “Her,” being Marie, obviously.

It felt like a random request that made no sense to me.

“No, she’s okay,” I said.

This lady seemed to feel very strongly about her request: “Well, she isn’t moving.” And she looked at Mr. Sexy and I with a stern, disapproving face.

Well, my pulse quickened and I felt warmth creep up my face so I replied in my syrupy-sweet-voice, “No she’s fine. Thank you.”

You should all be impressed I said “thank you.”  But keep in mind it was a firm “thank you.”  The kind that said the conversation was over.

The lady gave us another look, telling us we could go out there without skates and help her if we wanted.

Nod of the head.  Turn away.  Face burning.  Tongue bitten.

Breathe.

I. Hate. That.

I know that people tend to feel sorry for Marie – especially with horrible parents who give her the opportunities to experience life  on her own! She has spent most of her life being led into activities by adults to such a degree that she prefers adults to peers.

So, while my face cooled off and I laughed at Michael for crashing once again, I saw our parenting strategy flourish.

This is the kind of interactions Marie needs.  She doesn’t need another adult who wants to rescue her.  She needs someone her own size to invite her into the adventures of life. Then it’s up to Marie to decide what to do next.  This time, she took a friend’s hand and ventured into the scary sea of a roller skating rink.

Marie left her comfort zone and hung on for dear life.  Literally. 
Have you ever skated with someone who doesn’t know how?  Especially one that’s your size or close to it?  Simply getting Marie from sitting on the bench to the rink took all my muscles as she simply leaned back into me with all her body weight.  
I should have videoed the skating.  It was like watching Bambi. 
This was Marie’s first and only fall of the day.  From what we could see on the sidelines, she refused to get back up even with the help of her new friend.  Her friend retrieved the learning-to-skate-thing for Marie, helped her up into it, and skated off.  
Again, a great thing for Marie to learn.  
Marie had a friend who wanted to help her.  Then Marie decided she didn’t want to continue.  So Marie lost that friend. 
Marie actually did figure out how to move around on her own.  It took her a bit but she ended up on the other side of the rink and then came all the way back when it was time to go.  
She wouldn’t have had those rich experiences without the helping hand of a peer. 
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6 thoughts on “A Helping Hand

  1. That is awesome. I doubt that Marie lost the friend…friends sometime just move on. I am proud of you for holding your tongue. Not sure that I could have. This is a very inspiring post…but it is hard for those of who don't have “special” kids to just let them been real! You are awesome

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  2. I think it's great that you allowed both of your children the freedom to learn to skate without you helicoptering around them. You were close enough to give support if it had been absolutely necessary, but they learned so much more by doing it on their own. I love that some of Marie's peers came over to help her. You are doing a great job helping them learn how to navigate life.

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  3. Thanks for the kind words. A “lost” friend may not have been quite correct. In the confines of Marie's mind, though, the friend was lost by skating away. Although you and I know that she would probably come back again next time.

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  4. Thank you so much! It's hard not to copter around just because I see it happening everywhere. Parenting publicly can be very tricky these days. I'm pretty much always wondering who is watching and what they think they might be seeing.

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