I was watching the final baseball game between the Yankees and the Angels to decide who is going to play the Phillies in the 2009 World Series last night. As I watched, I enjoyed the game. But later I realized there is a strong correlation between life and the game of baseball, especially when parenting a special needs child.
Just think what life would be like if we employed the "three strikes and you're out" rule.
I punished my son for behaviors out of his control before he was diagnosed with ADHD. STRIKE 1
I lost my temper with my son when he laughed in my face when I was very serious. STRIKE 2
I lost the battle with the local school system to have my son included in Special Education for help with handwriting in school. STRIKE 3
I would be "out" in the 2nd inning, long before the game is over.
Professional baseball players understand that a strike-out is part of the game, not a sign of failure. Statistically, they are out far more than they take a base. They don't let a previous strike-out affect their game. They get back up to the plate and employ all their skill, determination, and positive attitude to succeed the next time they are up to bat.
As parents, we must remember that a moment of weakness is not a sign of failure. A failure of our child is not necessarily a failure of our own either. It is especially crucial to remember that when parenting a special needs child. Some of our children's "failures" are just part of their genetic code and not failures at all.
I am the first to admit I often feel like I am failing my children. I wonder if I did something when pregnant with Luke that caused his ADHD. Lately I've wondered if a vaccine I allowed caused his ADHD. I feel like I am failing Emma when she feels anxious and insecure. When she sees the glass half-empty. When she tells me how school "sucks" and everything is "crap." I feel like I'm failing them when I take a Sunday in my pajamas in front of the television instead of taking them somewhere fun. I feel like I'm failing them when I can't afford something fun.
You get the picture, I could go on for days with that.
But that attitude is exactly how we can actually fail our children. We MUST focus on the goal. We MUST keep our eye on the prize. We MUST see ourselves hitting that home run and crossing home plate.
As I watched some of these men hit foul ball after foul ball last night, I marveled at their determination to stay in the game. Their determination to keeping swinging, to get a hit and stay in the game, not return to the bench. They were making contact with the ball, the first step of getting a hit. They just needed to do it again but straighten it up, or swing a hair earlier, or a hair later. They were on the right track. They almost had it and they weren't giving up.
In Little League Softball they have a chant for this (funny how the girls chant, having a cheer for everything, but the boys wouldn't dare):
You got a piece of it You got a piece of it You got a P-I-E-C-E piece of it Now get the rest of it Now get the rest of it Now get the R-E-S-T rest of it...
There's no manual for parenting. If you are lucky, you had a great example in your own family growing up. And mother's intuition is a powerful force. Envisioning our children as healthy, happy, successful adults cements the goal. Now we just have to work on it, learn from our mistakes, adjust our performance, take coaching from others, and celebrate each small victory as we would a home run.
WE GOT A PIECE OF IT...
All those small victories overcome the little failures and add up to a game well-played, and won.
WE GOT THE REST OF IT...
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- For those of you anxious to know about the new meds (Vyvanse): Luke became sick last week after his second day on the medication. I stopped giving him the Vyvanse for a few days until he was feeling better. Today is the new "Day 2" on Vyvanse. I'll post soon with an update on how all of that is going. So far, working very well but he is falling asleep during the day and putting himself to bed early without telling anyone. Not eating much at all either. It will take a couple weeks to know for sure how he will do with it.