The Fish We Do Not Fry

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There’s been this theme I’ve been meaning to write about and I’ve been mulling it over and not quite finding the right path so I’ve waited. And it’s funny what happens when you wait….dilemmas seem to work themselves out in way you could not have imagined :).

A friend of mine asked me recently about whether or not she should push to help her young-ish spectrum kiddo learn buttons and zippers so that he could be independent during school bathroom breaks. As parents, we all know, just how critical this skill is but the kicker is, this kiddo also has some fine motor skill weaknesses that make this more than just a want-to-do kind of thing for this kiddo. What I tried to explain to her is that sometimes, as much as a kiddo may want to be independent, it’s just not going to happen in that moment and adding stress to the equation….won’t help anyone. I advised her to buy velcro and let the boy be independent without stress.

And you all know, I’m all for pushing when pushing will help but, what I told her is…..”Let it go.”

I then began to recount my 17 year old spectrum kiddo’s great triumph over Shakespeare in his English class when he was 16, in high school with no help or pull out minutes, that astounding moment he scored the highest test score on the Macbeth final…out of the high school sophomores. And right after we finished that story, I told her how we don’t tie shoes.

I kid you not. Believe me, we tried and we practiced and we bought the little wooden shoe with laces to practice on and we kept practicing until the stress levels just were NOT worth it anymore and I could see that the processing of the steps along with the finger skills were just not happening for us…and so we bought shoes with velcro and said good-bye to laces. As I have frequently told those who ask us why we can’t……we simply have bigger fish to fry…and we move on without apologies or excuses because it just is not our thing and life can be lived without shoe laces being tied.

We let it go and we move on to other fish.

Sometimes we have to just let go. For the sake of our children, for the sake of life, for the sake of ourselves. Our life has not been impacted because he can not tie his shoes. We rocked velcro until we hit adult sizes and the velcro ran out and then we rocked those slip on Vans. And we kept rocking those slip ons, year after year until yesterday.

The magic, gobsmacking moment went like this:

Me: Your shoes got pretty muddy helping your grandparents take down their Christmas decorations. How’s your other pair of Vans?

Him: I think they’re kind of tight but I can mine up.

Me: How about we go get some more shoes and we buy a second so if you get these dirty you have a good fitting back up?

Him: Okay.

Me: Any idea what kind of shoes you want? The same checkered ones or a different pair?

*And I ask because there are moments when he does a major change up and wants something entirely different and there are other moments when he wants the exact same pair again. It’s nice to be prepped for what we are looking for when we walk in because communicating with strangers isn’t always the easiest thing we do*

Him: I want laces this time.

*and this is where mom was gobsmacked, silent and trying to pick her jaw up off the floor because for the last eight years my boy has been pretty adamant that laces are not going to be a part of his shoe routine nor has he spent one more minute of his life trying to master the shoe lace life*

Me: (trying to recover my shock) Okay. You ready to learn how to tie your shoes?

Him: Yeah.

And we walked into the Vans store and he picked out two pair of shoes…both with laces and not one back up pair of slip-ons because it is now time to fry those smaller fish we let go of years ago.

As parents you need to understand, there are things you will need to let go of (and some of them will surprise you) and it’s okay to let go because only you know what is right for your kiddo. And you need to remember that one day your kiddo may be ready to pick up that skill again, when it is right for them, or they may not. I was perfectly content with never having shoes laces in his shoes but he was not….so now we have laces.

The greatest gift you can give ANY kiddo, is to not judge them according to the socially acceptable benchmarks. Children should each have their own benchmarks. Sometimes you need to push but sometimes you need to gracefully let go of the smaller fish you choose not to fry and it’s indeed a fine line every parent has to determine for their own kiddos….and be respectful of when their kiddos grow up ❤