Sometimes, as a parent you get sucked into the daily grind of routines and chaos. It’s life with kids. And this life and its fast-paced schedule zooms us ahead, one season quickly following the one before. It will always seem this way. I often hear the phrase, “I can’t believe it’s_______!” Insert whatever seasonal descriptive in the blank, and that is the common underlying tone of the world in which we live. Always rushing and looking ahead. I catch myself doing the same thing. But as a parent of 3 kiddos, and one with special needs, I’ve slowly realized the disservice I am doing when all I do is look ahead.
My son Spiro, who is 7, has CTD. He gets tired easily, so our routine has changed a bit in the last month. I have noticed that he really has begun to enjoy his bath time. As soon as he begins his supper, he starts telling me what we are going to do next. Lately, its been all about the bath.
So once he finishes his supper, I will take him up, just the two of us, and get him started. Tonight, he was really excited because I had bought a new body wash with a pump on it. See….it’s really the little things that make him happy. There are days where I don’t have to do alot to please this child. So the tub got filled, and when Spiro was ready he got in. Again….the routine of it all.
We do this almost daily, but tonight was different. The child, tub, and routine remained the same. It was the parent….myself, that was different.
Tonight I just really was able to look at that 7 year old, and take myself back into my memories of when Spiro was a toddler. As a toddler, Spiro would do only one thing in the bath. And that was to take a small sprinkler type toy (it was actually a tree from a bath play set), fill it with water, and watch it drip into the tub. He did that, or a slight variation of that, for years. Not 1 or 2 years…I’m talking about 5 years. The same brown toy, dripping water into the tub….
But lately he has, dare I say it….mixed it up a bit. He still has the brown drippy toy but now he is actively participating in the bath. As Spiro plops into the tub, he says, “I get soap now.” As he is talking I am tidying up the bathroom and do not get the soap. He then says “I wash hair now”. So I walk over and give him a squirt in his hair. He then starts to shampoo his hair. It’s not perfect, he is probably only cleaning a 4 inch area, but he’s doing it, and he’s got the concept of cleaning his hair! We have been working on this concept for so long!! So as he is scrubbing that 4 inch spot, and getting it really clean, I walk away and put some clothes in the hamper. As I am in the hallway I can hear him, “I wash bum now”. I’m now back in the bathroom with him and he is standing, trying to wash his own bum!! I applaud his independent cleaning and assist him with his hygiene. As I help him, the last spot is always his feet. My 7 year old then tells me, “wash stinky toes now”. Although he has heard me say this phrase numerous times, he is applying it in the correct context. This is amazing!
He has been more aware of routine, and the steps taken within the routine for a while. And I think I haven’t realized it or given him the chance or had the patience to let him explore those steps, however sloppy they may be, on his own. As I look back to those toddler days where Spiro was really just in his own world, content to let water drip endlessly, I can really see the progress he has made. I can now sit and listen as my child tells me, “water get in hole now”, as he watches the water drain from the tub. His very slow developmental gains have, over the course of many years, become quite significant. I think sometimes, my perception of my CTD child, may be shadowed by the routines we are forced into.
So now, instead of rushing through this routine of ours, I will try to be more present for my family. I can say this evening offered me a rare glimpse of my child- the old and the new. This contrast gave me an appreciation of the passage of time. And for me, time isn’t just the memories I have, but also what time can offer. In Spiro’s case it is learning, growing, and changing. I think every parent can take a lesson in this, no matter how the pace of that may look like for your child.