There was a last minute frenzy today while my son and I did a rushed grim reaper look for Halloween. I cut a scythe blade out of Hardboard and painted it with silver paint...(thank God I had some). We stuck it on the end of a branch that was nearly straight, and as long as a broom handle. He covered his face with some sheer black cloth that he could see and breathe through, and put on a hooded black top. It was pretty makeshift, but luckily in the sleepy little town where I live makeshift is OK. The standards are low on the costume front and the spirit of the whole thing rules. basically, it's about lollies! My son is 15 and nearing 5'10", his years of trick or treating are numbered, (but he still thinks he's a kid)... so I got the neighbors kids from a few house to accompany him. These kids spend most of the day roaming the street on their bikes, with little parental input, and they are all little midgets. Not literally, but they are small for their age. I notice that other families on the street tend to try to steer clear of them, maybe if I hadn't experienced first hand just how that feels, I might do the same...I hope not.
To me, kids are kids, and love is what makes the difference. So I spent the whole afternoon making Halloween costumes out of a huge roll of black plastic I'd had some vague plans for in the garden. Only the two oldest kids could come trick or treating, but I made batman capes for the ones that were left behind. It was all a bit rushed, but I sent them off with my son, the grim reaper. He's that strange mix of child and man at 15. I trust him to help keep them safe, he has great instincts for self preservation, but he's just a little kid on some ways. He benefited from having the other kids...because in his words, they were "great negotiators". (someone else may call them great "hustlers") . Not everyone in this town is all that flush with money, and not everyone had lollies, but apparently the enthusiasm of his little mates won over many a household, and those that didn't have lollies plied them with drinks, chips, and whatever else they could find in their cupboard. It was a match made in heaven, because my son made a great body guard for the two littler ones, and they supplied the charm.
Charm and manipulation are beyond the grasp of many people with aspergers. They say it like it is with little pizzazz, although sometimes their unique take on things can have people reeling with laughter. They don't wear the glasses that stop most people from seeing things as they are, and are surprised at people reactions when they state the obvious, obliviously crashing through taboos . They can only be totally utterly genuine, and that for me is their real charm. It's beyond them to pretend to feel one thing, and actually feel another. What you see is what you get.
One good thing about aspergers kids is that while they struggle to read our complex subtle communications, their emotions are relatively easy for us to read. If they feel uncomfortable...it's usually very obvious.
When he does give, it's absolutely genuine and from the heart. For a long time, I forgot that he had a heart...because we got lost in the struggle, but as the battle began to be won I have seen more and more, that he does have a heart, he does have a desire to give, and it's VERY important for me to give as much attention as possible to those times where he does come through, and as little as possible to the times when he lets me down, or doesn't measure up.
This has been the major shift I have had to make in my parenting style. Anyone who has been around autism for very long, will be able to tell you that some of the things they can come up with can be down right scary. And some of those things can give a well intentioned parent, visions of a very dark future if those traits aren't eliminated. And this is where I'm going to give one of my few quotes from the bible ...don't ask me exactly which verse it is?? if you know you can tell me.. "resist not evil" . This is a strange verse, but the way I read it is this...the more you focus your attention on what you consider to be bad , or worse disturbing behavior, it seems to me that "the MORE you GET. I'm not saying ignore it all together, but sometime the more your focus is on fighting bad behavior, sometimes the less you are actually appreciating and nurturing the potential for good in your child.
Potential is like a flower and what is watered grows. I see attention as the water, it can grow weeds just as well as prize bloom...it matters where you put it.
I came from a family where anything less than slamming bad behavior instantly and powerfully was seen as bad parenting. It seemed to work more or less for their kids, but I found that it didn't work for mine...at ALL. The focus on punishment, to promote conformity just didn't seem to work. Some people may say I just needed to do it louder and harder, believe me I had my loud and hard moments, and they just reinforced my conclusion that what I was doing wasn't working.
I have learned a different, softer approach has reaped rewards. It's not my families parenting style at all to be patient, to let go, to not focus too much on mistakes. But that's what has reaped rewards for me. I have to have faith in my son for him to have faith in himself. So I try to mirror..in a real genuine way my appreciation of the qualities he has that I want to encourage. It's become easier as time goes by. The 'trick' if you want the 'treat' of a great relationship with your child, and for them to develop some of the maturity we all desire for them...is to let a lot of stuff go. Our continual focus on the problems that worry us with our kids, can be just what is keeping them from having the kind of relaxed atmosphere around them that they need to grow and mature.
The kind of days like we had today, where there was very little stress, and everything flowed smoothly, with lots of kids running around, were unimaginable once upon a time. In fact for some years...there were no kids around, because he didn't want to be around them, and they didn't want to be around him.
For us to have a Happy Halloween go so simply and naturally, and to be able to share it with others, is a miracle worth celebrating
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