Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mommy, I can do hard things.

We were riding bikes to the school playground, much as we do most summer nights when we aren't at the pool. Asher's chain came off his bike. I fixed it. Then a couple blocks later, again. The third time it fell off, I was busy wrangling Noe, making sure he made a left turn into the school yard instead of a right turn into oncoming traffic. When I finally made it back to help Asher, he was trying to fix the chain himself. My frustration was evident from my tone, "Move Asher....I'll fix it."

"But Mooom......I'm fixing it!"

"Asher it's too hard, let me do it!"

As I was kneeling down towards the chain, he took his little greasy hands in my face, looked me square in the eye and said, "Mommy, I can do hard things."

A phrase that I repeat to him often.

Many days I don't feel like I have much to offer Asher by way of being his mother. As difficult as learning is for Noe, it is that easy for Asher. I remember taking Noe to a developmental pediatrician a couple years back. Asher had to tag along with us. He had just turned three and spent the entire appointment reading books in a corner of the doctor's office. After listening to Asher read out loud, the doctor remarked how I had two children at two polar opposite ends of the learning spectrum. It stung a bit to hear, but it is true.

Every skill Noe has developed, we (we = Ed and I, plus our team of therapists) have consciously and painstakingly taught
him. I remember the day he finally figured out how to use a straw, when he learned to pedal AND steer his bike, his first words, the first circle he drew by himself. For Noe, learning something new involves assessments, pages of data, strategy sessions with therapists, and months (sometimes years) of work. But it is exhilarating to see him finally succeed. Being Noe's mother is very hard, but at times, profoundly rewarding.

And Asher? I occasionally toss food his direction from the kitchen and try to stay clear of his flurry of activity and self-directed learning.

But when Asher repeated back my line about doing hard things, I finally realized my purpose as his mother. Surely things won't always be so easy for Asher. He will have challenges, he won't always be the smartest kid in his class, he will eventually lose some of his politician-swagger-in-a-six-year-old body. I don't always have answers for his questions anymore....(No Asher, I don't know if a Japanese beetle is nocturnal.) But, I CAN teach him to do the hard things in life.

And perhaps that will make all the difference.


queenie said...

This made me tear up. Both of your children are amazing, which they got from their amazing parents.

Razzy said...

Love it! Two very special boys and both can do hard things, but hard is a different word for each of them. You are a great teacher to both of them! Love you!

portlandize.com said...

I think it's fantastic to instill in your children the belief that they can try hard things.

We are helping my wife's teenage sister and her friend get set up for college this term, and because neither of them have ever been trusted with any responsibility, have never had anyone in an authority position believe they could do anything, and have never been forced to do much of anything for themselves, we are really having to work to motivate them to do this, keep them believing that it's possible (our educational and financial systems don't exactly make it simple), and keep forcing them to do it themselves, instead of just relying on us to tell them what to do. They wanted us to choose what classes they should take, even.

Let your kids believe they can do anything. Let them TRY to do anything. Give them guidance and advice and help them to do things themselves when they need help, but let them try something crazy and get hurt a little and realize that the world didn't end, it just stung a little, and life goes on. Help them to do something that's really difficult for them (like putting the chain back on), and see it through until they get it - for patience and perseverance. I know, having been a perfectionist and kind of towards the top of the class in terms of learning as a child, that if I couldn't get something immediately, I would tend to give up.

Anyway, keep on! One day you'll look back and think "wow, look how well our boy can deal with life!"