The first few weeks of Kindergarten were going great. Then one day Preston came home looking defeated. I always ask him to tell me the best and worst parts of his day. When I asked him what the worst part of his day was he said, “I never clip up.” In Kindergarten, there is this fancy rainbow behavioral chart. Each child gets a clothespin with their name on it. Each day they start their clip out in the middle on Green for “Ready To Learn.” They can clip up the chart to “Outstanding” or down the chart to “Time Away – Call to Parents.” It’s an awesome system because it helps kids learn to self-regulate as they clip up and down.
However, for a kid like Preston, the ways of clipping up can be sort of vague. There are a lot of social cues that he needs to be taught academically. He doesn’t really pick up on the fact that Billy clipped up for sitting still at circle time, so if I refrain from being a human bottle rocket at circle time, I will clip up too. He mostly gets mad that Billy clipped up and he didn’t. If I’m honest, I can relate to that.
When I figured out what was happening, I suggested to Preston’s teacher that she put together a visual aid, a cheat sheet to remind Preston of what he can do to clip up. Once he had his sheet, Preston completely understood what he had to do. Since then, he has clipped up every day. When the other kids ask why he has that card with him in class he simply replies, “It helps me.”
Sometimes I wish I had a card like that. I can relate to Preston’s discouragement. I can also relate to his anger. Lately I feel like I am having trouble “clipping up” so to speak, in life. I am stuck here all ready to learn and grow as a wife and mom but find many days where I feel myself loosing it under all the demands and falling down the mama performance chart. This whole parenting thing can be kind of vague. In fact, it can get down right messy. Dare I say ugly? And what is hard is that even my best parenting moments often yield a raging, “UGH! You stupid stupid mom! You hate me and I hate you for hating me!” from my Preston. He doesn’t mean it. He’s just mad. I get it. But it gets to me. I find myself falling apart a little too often and wishing I had my own cheat sheet. Do this, clip up. Do this, clip down. I know life doesn’t work that way. It’s not as simple as a visual aid. We all find ourselves in situations where we find ourselves shouting, “A little help here?” (One of Preston’s favorite lines).
Don’t get me wrong. We are blessed with tons of support. I have gained many tools as I’ve researched and worked with other children on the autism spectrum. I sure hope to gain many more. Even though I feel defeated in this season, I won’t give up. I’m thankful and have much to celebrate. Even so, I admit my heart still aches to “be like the other kids.” Lord, help me embrace the life you’ve given me.
Maybe you’ve been stuck in places before. Maybe you’re stuck now. I think we all have moments where we know what’s expected of us but we feel unclear on how or when we’ll get there.
Just like I saw my lost little son and knew he needed a little direction, I’m counting on the fact that God knows where I am and knows just what I need to put me back on track. Hopefully, with some lessons learned and some wisdom gained from this season of stuck. And if anyone asks why I’m relying so much on this hope I’ll simply reply, “It helps me.”