I Opt for Turning the Tide

Life with Micah is a bit different than life with the other kids. I know that you know this because I keep harping on it, but weirdly I keep forgetting it. He's just such a normal little boy most of the time that I forget that he's so vastly different.

One of the weird things about kids with Downs is that something simple and commonplace becomes routine and expected. It's cemented into their little minds as something that must continue to happen forever and ever, amen.

Take, for instance, the girl who moved into a new home in the winter time. Her parents recorded that she was taught to turn on the heater in the bathroom so that she would be warm after her shower. She continues to do this every single day without fail, even when the temperatures were in the 90's. Things that we just don't think about are more than just habit for someone with Down syndrome. It's the way things are. Period.

Being parents first and foremost, and parents of a child with a disability second, we forget that little gem all too frequently. And, being parents, we will also occasionally fall into the trap of placating kids at all costs. We all know the shopping experience where your child is crying and screaming and kicking, and all you want to do is get out of the store but instead you're stuck in line between Two Carts Full Tilly with her brood of unwashed heathens running in every direction and taking things from your cart, and Grandma Betty who is trying her best to help entertain your child for you but is really making things worse and she can't hear you screaming to just give it up already because your kid doesn't care.

I hate those days.

On one of those days, in a grand effort to just make the insanity stop already, we handed a Hershey's bar to Micah. Instant quiet and tranquility ensued. We checked out, fed Micah his bribe and went on with our lives.

But the next time we were shopping, Micah reached for a candy bar. As it was just Micah with me that day, and it was just a few cents (those few cents keep getting bigger every year, mind you) I allowed it. He was very good that day while in the store and deserved a reward for his behavior.

And so it started. Micah sometimes chooses Doritos over a Hershey bar, but the fact remains that he cannot make it through a checkout line without some sort of personal reward to himself. This either gets expensive when all the kids are with, or causes very hard feelings (justifiably so) when I allow only Micah to get something that nobody else does. Something needed to be done.

The next time we were in the store, I was feeling particularly cheap and didn't allow anyone to get a treat. I told Micah to put back his candy bar. No worries, he'd get chips. He was not happy that I made him put those back as well. As I was in self-check-mode I didn't have the time to devote to his discipline (plus I was in public) so I kindly but firmly said, "no, put it back please." We were both reaching our limit after several attempts on his part when he sat down on the floor and smacked the bag of chips down beside him in a fit of protest. The chip bag broke open and we were forced to buy them. You can bet that he didn't get to eat any either.

Some days in the parenting business are neither a win nor a loss. Sometimes it's just a good thing to make it to the finish line without falling over. We're still fighting that battle that we unwittingly began. Unfortunately it's more than just telling Micah no, it's changing The Way Things Are.

Turning back the tide might be easier.


Leanne said...

I can only imagine. Sigh. I got nothing to add or words to help except maybe a sincere 'good luck'.

Karen Deborah said...

read Debbie's post today at Wisteria & Roses you will feel a kindred spirit in the same struggle and it may just encourage your heart.

Brandie said...

Parenting is just hard sometimes. I bought Goldie McDonald's before we went grocery shopping this week. She ate fries as we shopped and didn't throw things out of my cart. I knew it was a bad thing to do, but... After reading this, I will not do it next week.

Debbie Yost said...

Peanut often gets popcorn when we go to Target. They used to have a combo, popcorn and a medium coke for $1 (now it's $1.50) Peanut would get the popcorn and I'd get the coke. The other girls would share the popcorn and sometimes I'll get an extra bag to split it. The other day we headed for Target and I told Peanut we'd get popcorn. After Diva returned some bday presents for a gift card we started to shop when Peanut reminded me we needed popcorn. We headed to the snack area and waited (and waited and waited) for someone to help us. When she finally showed up and I ordered the popcorn I was informed the machine was broken.

It was not a pleasant shopping trip. The only good thing about this is it may keep me from going again in the near future and save us some money since I always buy more than I went in for.

Michelle said...

I know the feeling. Mister Rigid on our side has similar issues that get put into firm habits. God forbid you try to move him from his place at the table. Or put down a book before a chapter has ended. It's always a challenge, but ... you do somehow get through each day, don't you?

Out of curiosity, did you manage to salvage any ofthose chips for yourself? ;)

Flea said...

Oh ugh. We have those battles on a much smaller scale.

He's seems to really have changed a lot in the last year. Maybe it's just the angle of the shot. Handsome boy.

Karen said...

Wow, he is really growing up. My oldest who just turned 8 did something similar about a 2 weeks. Yes, the finish line. Just looking for that finish line some days.

Debbie in CA : ) said...

I hear you . . . I hear you . . . I hear you . . . and you are ALWAYS in my prayers. (You come right after the part where I IMPLORE the Lord for the guidance He promises to deliver to me . . . the guidance that often seems to come in a totally foreign language to me. UGH!)

I'd love to tell you that one day *POOF* this will all vanish and Micah will be normal . . . but I don't tell lies. : ( Keep on keepin' on. Your heart will hear God as it keeps on beating with the love of your children. Mine is beating in synch but with a totally different tune. We're kindreds. We're really blessed. We're also tired most of the time. I know . . .

I love coming to Rock on the Pony with you. It's nice to know I'm not alone in this world one step removed from normal. : D

Karen MEG said...

Micah is gorgeous, what a lovely shot.

I had my own fave mommy moment this past week dragging my crying and screaming 4 year old who didn't get her piggy cookie, through the mall with my 9 year old walking safely 12 steps behind, pretending he didn't know us ;).

So yes, it does seem like parenting is a bit of a race sometimes doesn't it? No winners, losers, just making it through is challenge enough...

Although you are doing much more than just making it through, Karen.

Have a great weekend with your lovely family.

JennyH said...

I used to buy Max fruit from the salad bar - back when it was just him then just him and Sam- before I started my shopping. It worked great! But other than that, I just tell my kids no. I know, mean mommy. Today I was the lady with the kids running all over the place, yelling, etc. And you should have seen the number Sam picked out to wear to the store!!

But I do know that once something is set in those little minds, that's it, it's set forever!

Trannyhead said...

I want you to know there was a kid at the pool today whose mom was valiantly trying to change him out of bathing suit and into his clothes. I thought of you because the kid kept leaping back into the pool butt nekked despite repeated and futile efforts from Mom. He didn't have Downs. He was just headstrong. But joyfully nekked. And my kid was still trying to play with him even though he was nekked and his mom was chasing after him.

I feel confident my kid would have writhed on the ground, stiffened, and busted open the chips, too.