Monday, October 21, 2013

They're MY Role Models...

I confess. I've been Scrooge already this year. October has been a busy month for us, and as of this past weekend, we hadn't yet visited the pumpkin patch with the kids.  The first year that we took them, we were SO excited! We had bags for the camera and bags for the baby supplies and bags for the bags and it was All So Exciting! Last year, we were still excited, but I probably didn't take quite as many pictures, and the enthusiasm waned when Anderson freaked out when we put him on the hay ride and we had to wait in line for 45 minutes to get tickets for the poor, obese, dirty animals petting zoo. This year...well, this year, I was dreading it.  It's so incredibly crowded, kids run around everywhere, there are hay bales to climb and big slides to slide on and keeping a good eye on your kids is next to impossible, unless you want to be one of THOSE moms or dads who literally hovers over their kid to the point of knocking everyone else down, and I'm not up for that.  Equally annoying, the bigger kids never watch where they are going and Amelia inevitably gets knocked down the steps. Yeah, yeah..that sounds like a 90-year-old complaining about the noise next door. I know. I own it. I didn't want to do it.

Saturday was cold and rainy and we were stuck inside all day.  We did the regular stuff--ballet and  Anderson's weekly trip to Hollister, but it wasn't enough to keep the grouchiness away. Bedtime was ROUGH and Marty and I were pretty much exhausted. So, the next morning when the kids got up, fresh-faced, happy, and ready for a new day, I asked Marty if we should just suck it up and do the pumpkin patch. The weather was set to be a little cold but gorgeous, and the kids needed OUT. Now, in my house, we don't tell the kids we are going to do something unless we absolutely plan to follow through because it is just not worth the repercussions. Cancelled plans = temper tantrums beyond your wildest nightmares. Therefore, it was with much reluctance that I told the kids where we were going to go. Anderson's eyes--oh, when I told him, they were AMAZING. Watching him process the information was just intriguing. His first words: "We don't have to ride the tractor." No, buddy--not this year. He then went into detail about what we would see and do--and he missed nothing. He was only three last year when we went--I cannot believe how much he remembered.  We decided to skip naps (!!!!!!!!) and go right after lunch.

Now here is the part where I REALLY own it: it was impossible to watch my kids at the pumpkin patch and have a miserable time. Believe me, I tried. I failed.  Their enthusiasm and glee was unmistakably adorable. I think I smiled for three hours straight. Cute, and smart, and just downright brave. I felt pretty guilty about my bah-humbugness.

Two things stuck out to me, though--two wonderful qualities in my kids that I am always subconsciously aware of but that days like the pumpkin patch bring to the forefront of my mind, where truthfully they need to be more often.  Marty and I took turns following each kid around, as they have different interests and tend to go in opposite directions.  Amelia...oh, sweet girl.  She is the absolute most determined little thing.  One of the amusements at this particular patch is a little figure eight track with old-school pedal tractors.  My kids were late-bloomers in the pedalling game and just learned how to do it this past summer, so I was kind of excited that they'd finally be able to ride these tractors. fate would have it, Amelia's legs were too short for the tractors.  They have different sizes, and believe me--my girl tried out every single tractor in the place. Every single one.  She finally found one that she could almost reach, and could get enough action to make it go about a foot forward. Then it would roll backward about two feet.  Not one time did that child quit. She tried, and tried, and tried.  The bigger kids (who have no business on the tractors but I digress..) would bump her from time-to-time, and she would turn around indignantly and yell, "HEY! Watch where you're GOING!".  Spunky thing. Finally, I had to drag her away because we were going to go have a drink and a snack. Oh, that perseverance. What a fantastic quality for a kid who is inevitably going to face many challenges in her life. She was seriously inspirational.

Unsurprisingly, she's equally determined when she is scared to do something, but really wants to do it because all the other kids are doing it.  She wanted to go down one of the tunnel slides, but she was scared.  She would sit on the edge, think about it, scoot back down. Repeat. Kids would line up behind her and she would get irritated about having to move out of their way.

Finally, the line got backed up and she wasn't moving, so I did what all fabulous parents do. I pushed her. She loved it.  Pretty sure the dad next to me was horrified, but hey. She conquered that little fear and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon flying off the bottom of that slide. She would've gotten there on her own. She always does. But sometimes, you need a little nudge from your mama.

Anderson--my brave, brave boy. Oh I can't tell you how proud I am of that kid.  Just about six months ago, he wouldn't even DARE sit on a swing. He wouldn't let you hold him upside down. He had the typical equilibrium, center-of-gravity issue that lots of ASD kids have. He hated rough-housing, anything that made him feel off-balance.  However, over the course of the last little bit, he's been working hard to overcome it. He finally let Marty start trying to hold him upside down. Little by little, he got there. He also decided to swing on swings, slide down big slides, climb on structures. So hard for me to watch because I'm terrified that he will fall, but he's just really overcome so much that I try to bite my tongue.  Yesterday, at the pumpkin patch, he climbed to the highest hay bale (to my dismay/awe). He jumped off of the hay (into more hay...soft landing). And my boy went down the biggest slide--and let me tell ya, it is tall, and they go fast! They have little potato sacks to sit on to go faster, and he absolutely loved it. I stayed at the top to ensure that he stood in line as he doesn't always understand the line concept and this particular slide always has a line. His excitement every time he'd run back up there--it was almost tangible.

Like his sister, he worked hard to get to a point where he could not only tolerate these kinds of things, but he actually enjoys them! He enjoys something he was terrified to do only a few short months ago. Something to learn there? Absolutely.

So, friends...I went into the day as Scrooge and came out a big ol' pile of mama mush. I love those kids. I learn so much from them every single day. They truly are role models for me--and probably all adults. I definitely need to be more like them.  Persevere when things are hard, never quit, and if all else fails, just take the leap. It might turn out to be much more fun than expected.

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