Today was the day that we decided to “re-purple” Elizabeth’s hair. In actuality, her hair was pink, then when it sort of washed out, I went and bought SPLAT hair color in purple and began the fun of coloring the light pink pieces to a great shade of deep purple. Over time, the purple morphs back into this pinky/gold/lavender hue. It is really an interesting shade and has gotten her quite alot of compliments but instead of being just purple and pretty, it is really PINK and really OUT THERE.
So we decide to do this hair today and as we are doing it, we are talking. I am asking some questions and Elizabeth is happily answering them. I get a foil and she asks how many are left. I put on some purple and she asks if she can cover her eyes when we wash it out. I crunch up the foil and she says “Ouch” I see so many signs of her Sensory Processing Disorder or SPD showing its face but instead of getting up and leaving the kitchen/hair salon, she sits quite nice and still and talks about how nice her hair will be once it is done and even how her aide will tell her how nice it will look.
As I am completing this fun task, it got me thinking about how age appropriate this task was and how many times we ARE doing age appropriate things but also how many times our activities are geared for younger ages. It is a tough thing to have a child BE one age but their special needs dictate activities or adaptations of a younger age. I still catch myself sometimes telling her what to do instead of deciding together or figuring our her day for her instead of asking her what SHE wants to do. Sometimes with Dyspraxia, you can see them struggling to do a task or organize their thoughts so you want to step in a do it for them. and truthfully, sometimes I want to do it for her because we have to get it done quickly and be on our way.
As we began a new school year, or a new time of change for Elizabeth, I always feel that it is the marker of time, the marker of time passed and the marker of Elizabeth getting older. I try to let these markers be my touchstone, my reminder that I need to recognize her true age even in the midst of a “dyspraxic fury”. It try to imagine how I would have felt at 18 years old if my mom had done_____. Or how I would have felt if my younger brother had told me____________. Trust me, I can write this much easier than I can do it. But I am trying. I use phrases like ” Should we try this….” or ” How about we go…..” because they incorporate her wishes and feelings into the decision and I feel respect her true age and wishes. Ohhh, there are times when I totally toss this out the window in exchange for mom telling and getting what she wants….NOW. But, for the most part, I am trying.
For so many years of the lives of our special needs children, we sit in waiting rooms while they get therapy, we drive many miles hoping that THIS is the therapy that will make the difference, we work hard with them at home and we cheer and live for every success they have in life. We have spent all that time in “catch-up” mode so sometimes it is hard to take yourself out of that mode and see some of the age appropriate interests and behaviors of your child…as least for me it was. I can remember the very first time that Elizabeth had a “teenage” moment. It involved an attitude (hers), some loud voices ( me and her), some stomping up the steps(her) and a loud door slam( again, her) As I watched this happen, I was both amazed and momentarily happy. Amazed, that I had witnessed this huge outburst which was not Elizabeth’s style at all. and happy that this was something so typical for her age group. Of course, she lost some privileges from that one but it made my eyes open a bit wider to see the whole picture.
So back to the kitchen…Elizabeth is sitting there with a shower cap on her head which is covering up the foils I put in and smiling at me. The timer goes off and as we head to the sink to wash it out I hear ” I can cover my eyes, right?” “You won’t get water in my eyes, right Mom” ” I hate this part so much” and the reminder of her SPD comes back….after we wash it, we both go to look at it and she says ” Oh, Mom, I love it. It looks so good” ” Don’t forget I need to put the hair gel on it tomorrow” and with that I smile because all my thoughts I just shared are proved by the ping-ponging of emotions from her in just these few minutes. I tell her ” Yes, we will” Hug her and off she goes for the door to head out to her swing.
Our children are amazing people and they certainly keep us thinking and simply loving them more all the time.
I wish you all a peaceful week.