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.