Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Setting the Bar

One thing I'm never quite sure of, still haven't figured out, is where to set the bar.  I can recognize when it's held too low.  I can even sometimes recognize when it is held too high, but I'm not always sure of when it is just right. This is part of having a child with a spectrum disorder, and invisible challenges. Their struggles may not be as obvious, so their needed supports and understanding can be just as elusive. 

One thing some of us moms complain about, is that once we share our child's diagnosis with others, due to lack of understanding (and awareness!) some people automatically drop the bar, lower it to ridiculously low standards.  This can be really frustrating when you are paying for your kid to be in lessons, and the instructors see them as a write-off the second you open your mouth.  Suddenly your intention that your child just be better understood is somehow translated into, "he doesn't really count so go on about your business with the others."  Or at least that's how it feels when they recieve zero attention.

The really tricky part may be that the bar constantly needs to be adjusted.  In some areas of their lives, they will, like other children, rise to the expectations.  High expectations, where appropriate translate to knowing that someone deems you capable.  Expecting good work, or good behaviour from someone can equate to believing in someone. 

Counter to that, recognizing that our children struggle in some areas requires us to set the bar at the right level in that area.  Where they can experience success, where they do not have to feel as though doing their best is not good enough.

I find this really, really hard.  I worry that if we are having a hard day, and I lower expectations for behaviour, or for school work, that somehow I am setting a new, lower standard for Aiden, and for myself.  I wory about not working hard enough, or not working him hard enough.  Or I can worry about pushing him too hard on days when he is already feeling overloaded.

In my heart, I feel that whenever someone is doing the best that they can with the tools and skills that they have, there lives integrity.  Whenever somebody is able to do as much for themselves as they can, there lives indepependence.  Integrity and independence are what I strive for....those are the 'roots and wings' for me.

So daily living becomes a series of decision making in terms of expectations.  Each day and each area can demand a different standard.  So, as parents we are the coach, standing on the sidelines, encouraging and sometimes downright coaxing. And somtimes, once in a while, just letting it go.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Now I Love Rubbermaid Too

If this logo is on it, buy it.
 If you've ever found yourself disgruntled with the world around you, feeling that we live in a man -eat- man kind of a place, I`ve got a story for you. it`s a good story, filled with human goodness.  You might even say it`s a beautiful story.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided that it couldn`t hurt to send Rubbermaid a letter, telling them about Aiden`s complete admiration for their cleaning carts.  And their yellow buckets on wheels, and so on. Along with the letter, I enclosed a copy of some of Aiden`s Rubbermaid themed art work, and a link to this blog.

Well, today, as the kids and I were making crafts at the kitchen island, the phone rang.  I almost didn`t pick up because I didn`t recognize the area code, and have been getting a lot of telemarketing phone calls lately.  Why I picked up I dont know, but I am so glad I did.  Ìs this Natalie...`` a voice questioned from the line  ``Yes``, I replied, wondering how these people got my name, when the voice introduced himself.  He was a Mr. Tim Spence, calling not from some I`ll -just- take- 45- minutes- of- your- time operation, but from RUBBERMAID!!!!!!!  Yip, it`s true.  I still cannot believe it, but it is true.

He said that  they had recieved my letter, and that it had really touched their hearts.  They are arranging for a local distributor to provide my little janitorial-loving boy with a cleaning cart!!!!  I stood holding the phone in disbelief.  I simply could not believe that I had heard him correctly.  I would love to now state that I handled this phone call with great poise, and responded with some sort of appreciative communication.  However, the truth is that I broke down crying.  I was struck.  Not only by the overwhelming sensation that my baby`s dreams were going to come true, but also by the level of humanity and unbridled generosity being afforded Aiden by a complete stranger.

I can tell you this, from the couple of minutes I spent on the phone with Mr. Spence, I knew that I was speaking to someone with a kind, generous heart.  I honestly felt that making this phone call, and granting Aiden his heart`s desire was bringing him great joy, the man embodied a true giving spirit.

My son has been doubly blessed.  Not only will he recieve his cart, but the biggest gift is the lesson that the world is a good place, filled with good people.  That he has recieved great kindness from a complete stranger is what I hope he carries with him throughout his life.  Long after Rubbermaid products lose their glow.  My hope is that some day he will be the sort of person who gives to others, asking for nothing in return. 

So, the next time you are out shopping, and you`re trying to decide which product to buy, if Rubbermaid is a choice, let it be your pick!

Mr. Spence, and Rubbermaid, I do not know how to properly express my gratitude to you, for what you are giving my boy, and for the beautiful example you have set for him as well.  My true wish is that your kindness is repaid to you one hundred fold.

As for me, I have nothing else to wish for.