Or 8 things my special girl told me over Christmas...
Remember that I wrote about the Christmas break recently? Well I haven't finished. You see it was so different to every other holiday we've ever had. Normally I have a schedule, and a list of things to achieve. Family meals, outings, visits, exercise, often travel too. Is this what good parenting is all about? I thought so, and many of the experts in books and in real life seem to advise the same. And with two kids with special needs I was constantly calculating the logistics of the next item on the agenda, and barely had time to be present with them at all. But this year I did. This year I let the kids dictate the pace, and I spent a lot of time watching and listening to them, trying to really understand what makes them happy, secure, safe and engaged.
My son was having his difficulties in the run up to Christmas, and my special girl was not her usual smiley self either, but I wasn't sure why. She'd been tired in school and I'd made changes to her diet after a visit to the dietician. Perhaps the rest was teenage stuff? So I watched and I listened, and this is what she told me, and there *may* be some interpretation involved!
...Diet drinks are gross. At least the ones you've bought for me so far, Mum.
...You may think you like living life at warp speed, Mum. But I don't, cos it just makes you all stressy and shouty.
...It's no good taking me on fancy pancy outings if I can't use the toilet when I need to! Or I'm tired, or hungry. Sometimes I'm just as happy to stay at home. Really, I am. Just give me lots of attention and stuff to do and the odd visitor to make the day even better.
...I really don't do dieting, just like you, Mum! So now you have me on diet drinks, you'd better give me a bigger breakfast or I'm going to be pretty cranky by midday.
...I like my iPad, but I LOVE helium balloons, and pink tennis racquets and the holey bit from Connect Four.
...No I'm not going to drink a beaker of stupid water and go back to sleep just so you can have a lie in, Mum, I want to get up!
...Sometimes I do need my sleep. I am a teenager after all. Sometimes I want to go to bed at 8 pm and sometimes I'll sleep for 12 hours. But just to keep you on your toes, I'm not going to tell you when...
...Most of all I like to go to places I know with people I like, and keep to my routine.
Now she's told me all this, I've had to act, and changes have been made, including fewer outings and organised activities and nicer diet drinks. And every day her home school copy records that she is in 'great form'. Long may it continue!
So for the rest of 2013 we're going to try the slow life.
Do less. Sleep more. Stop planning. Start living.
The slow life.
Could it work?
Coda: A doggie update
The dog-sitting is done, she was lovely, my son enjoyed her company, but of course most of the work was left to me, and she took up more time and needed a lot more attention than I realised - a dog plus a slower way of life? I'm not sure whether that will be possible in this house. We will have to see...