I get that. It is bittersweet when our children move from one stage to another. We want them to grow up, that's what they are supposed to do, but it's hard at the same time. We mourn the loss of what they were and often times worry about what lies ahead. That is true, I believe, of all parents. We special needs parents feel the same way only on steroids.
Sometimes it seems that the growth and development of our kids is glacial. Then something happens, usually something small and surprising, to show us just how far indeed, they have come.
Happened to me last week at the paint store. My husband and I tried to hang some new art in our "sitting room." Let's just say there are more holes behind the pictures than we intended, and one way off to the side that still has an abandoned hook in it, driving me to utter distraction. I am unable to focus on the new slipcovers and four pieces of beautifully-framed original art. All I see is that hook that's there and wasn't supposed to be. We've left it there for two months because removing it will involve filling the big hole that it will leave, patching it, and re-painting. All things we could have done before breakfast in our past lives, but which tend to overwhelm us now. Eighteen years of parenting, sixteen to an extremely hyper special needs child, has taken a toll. We are tired.
At last, I mustered up enough energy to dig out the information on what color paint we'd used in that room, took my information up to the local paint store and requested they mix a quart for me. I gave them all the numbers I'd written down from the various cans in the basement before properly hauling their asses to the metro hazardous waste center. The paint store looked over my scrawl and found a number they thought must be it. Then the nice gentleman went into a back room coming back with a 3" binder and lo and behold, turned right to a page with a sample of the color. MY color. As in the information said "Link 10/03." I was highly impressed as no computer was used at all, this man, within a minute, found my information from nine years ago.
I thought about how much has happened in this house in the nine years we've been in it. The way and the reasons why we decorated Rojo's bedroom back then. Then it struck me, we haven't done a thing to change it. He was seven when we moved, in first grade. He's now a sophomore in high school with the same NBA basketball duvet covers on the bunk beds. He's got the same book case with the same picture books and a handful of chapter books. He's got the same framed art his class made him in first grade.
The boy is 5' 10 1/2'. Soon he'll be six feet tall and will most certainly outgrow his bed. I have now warned both Rojo and my husband, both of whom need to be warmed up to ideas over a long period of time, that we will be doing a big room makeover. The boy needs a queen bed. He needs to lose the bunk beds. He needs to have a whole different set of books on the bookshelf or no books at all. Make that no books at all. He is never going to grab a book off the shelf and sit down to read for pleasure, it's time to let go of that dream. It's time to let the room truly be his room. It needs to reflect his current age, his present interests and really represent him.
I can't wait to see what he chooses.
Carrie is a parent and advocate of a child with special needs and even more special gifts. She blogs at http://carrielink.blogspot.com/ where this is pretty much her favorite topic.