Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Leaning In

You could tell by the sounds he was super excited to be on the horse. This boy, disabled by cerebral palsy and completely dependent on his wheelchair, was riding a horse - BY HIMSELF! A year ago he could only ride with the trainer/therapist sitting behind him to support his weak and spastic body. Riding lesson after lesson he has grown stronger, more confident, more relaxed and now he was showing everyone how he could hold the saddle horn and stay upright and ride without being held. The instructor shared how all the assistants walked next to the horse with their hands up but they could NOT touch him. He was used to support. If they lightly touched him he leaned in. It was a balancing act teaching him to ride using his own strength. They needed to be there and ready to help, but they could not allow him to lean on them or he would have never learn that he could ride independent of a care-giver.

Déjà vu!

This was the clearest example of what we face day after day with the twins.This is the balancing act we've struggled with at home.

It's the hardest thing to explain to people who think you are expecting too much, and not giving the right kind of support as we toil at teaching the twins to be self-sufficient in their everyday care and chores and homework. The more you support and give help the harder they lean in and the more they expect you to do for them. It's really hard for them to feel good about themselves and their little accomplishment if they know someone else did the work. They more you do for them the less they think they can. And yet, we have to be there... we have put their hands on the saddle horn over and over and over. We have to be ready to catch them, to keep them from sliding, but we have to keep a distance that allows them to make the effort to use their own muscles. I have a much easier time doing this with James. With Missy it becomes exasperating enough that I walk away - far away. My tolerance for the struggle shrinks as I know the fight that is ahead and I walk away sometimes without even giving her the chance. If she brings out a homework sheet and wants me to sit by while she works on it,  it appears that the whole point of the exercise is to see how much mom will do of it for her and how tied up we can get in a power struggle and so I don't sit by her. I give us space... lots of space. She can be at the table... I'll be in the kitchen. When the power struggle begins the page goes back in the backpack. I refuse to go there. There are times though, when I won't even acknowledge that she has a worksheet she needs to work on. I walk away - FAR away! It's a constant balancing act.... and often we don't get it right. Sometimes we help too much and sometimes we walk too far away.

Missy's teacher at school let me know that they feel that same issue with Missy. She tries to get them to do her work for her. This is especially true when she is in a one-on-one or with a para. It makes for an interesting challenge all around.  Knowing this helps me realize it is not just a relationship problem between her and I. Also I  can't think I can just leave all the school learning for the school to deal with. It isn't peaches and cream for them either and she needs to be encouraged from every direction to strive towards independence on the subjects she is capable of. So hard to sort out where she is capable and where it is too hard. It's hard for all of us to figure out.

Today is total melt down day. Missy has been unable to get ready for school and she missed the bus. Steve and the girls left for a trip.... late because Steve was trying very hard to work with her. She wasn't willing to work with anybody.


Alatheia's little donation ticker is not updating itself. Someone is going to have to go in and manually update all the donations. Our family completely clueless at this point what was donated in our children's names, but it will show up soon.

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