Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Tour Guide for a Martian Child

Summers tend to be the time when I bring the kids and house back in line. This summer's project is Lily. I have often alluded to the fact that Lily arrived in this world without the manuals for her or us. We don't always know what to do with her and she doesn't know what to do with people in general. If you don't know her, she would seem like a brat or a snot. The fact is there are two Lilys. There is the charming, hysterical, bubbly Lily that we see at home. She is the reason that I began this blog in the first place. The second Lily is wary, overwhelmed, painfully shy, and angry that just as she learns the rules, they go and change.

I have been bringing her into public situations that make her uncomfortable. I stand back and watch her scan the room. She seems to go through her mental list and figures out what to do first. There are many adults in the world who seem to understand my girl and give her room to figure things out. However, there are just as many who seem to think they know how to "fix" my kid. They alternate between bullying and joking. That is exactly the wrong thing to do. You can't push Lily into a situation or out of a mood. She needs time to collect her thoughts and formulate a plan. The quickest way to lose her trust is to change from moment to moment how you interact with her. I think this is part of the reason that she has so much trouble interacting with kids her own age; they are too unpredictable.

I have the same approach to parenting that I do to gardening. Every spring, I buy my favorite flower seeds, scatter them in the garden, and then get out of the way and let them grow. My garden is different every year in a delightfully quirky "Miss Havisham" way. The same philosophy goes for my kids. As long as they are kind, helpful, and do their best, I stay out of their way. I never pushed Caroline, she just did her thing and turned into this awesome person. I have caught flack about my methods before. For most of her early years, other mothers implied that Caroline wasn't quiet up to par. Now she's in advanced classes, so I guess I did know what I was doing.

The same applies to Lily. She'll need more direction than her sister. I lay most things out as rules to follow. Of course for every rule she learns she encounters 30 exceptions. I am well aware of what many mothers are probably thinking as we walk away. While I'm walking her to the car praying that she doesn't lose it because she overwhelmed, looks are being exchanged. Once we're gone I am sure there will be "If she were my child...." She makes progress everyday.

Our family has a long history of having one child per generation who walks a harder path than most. I think with patience  I can guide her down that path. My family isn't alone. There are scores of children who march to the beat of their own drum. People seem to be more aware of this than ever before. Just look at popular T.V. You've got Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory and Brick on The Middle. I seem to have built a career out of guiding "Martian children" through life. I guess I am the Pied Piper of the pissed off and confused:) I wouldn't have it any other way.

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