Awhile ago I had someone ask me how I knew what Josh wanted. What he liked. What he didn’t like. How did I know if he was hungry, or thirsty, had to use the bathroom, was scared, or tired. How. Was I going to know if he couldn’t tell me. And it was the first time that I actually stopped and thought. And wondered. And maybe started to worry just a bit – that maybe one day I wouldn’t know. I have never been good at guessing games. They drive me crazy, and unless someone’s telling me point blank what they want, I often can be found over looking the obvious.
It never was something I had wondered about. Or worried about. I still worry about things, and I wonder whats going on in his little mind. I do wonder if Im completely missing the mark when it comes to who he is, and I have to wonder if maybe Im not letting him just be enough. I worry that maybe there is something else causing him this frustration – and since he cant tell me, well, maybe Im getting it all wrong.
And lately, that question has been flooding back to my mind. “How will you know?” the voice asks. “How can you tell?” “What if your wrong?” A few months ago, I pulled him out of every extra bit of help he was getting and started from ground one. I did more research and thinking about things than I have in a long time, and then I slowly started rebuilding that part of his life. One thing at a time. Choosing to put him into the therapy that I thought would help him best, and removing him from those programs I didn’t see helping him. And what I have seen is more change in the little guy than I have in a long time.
Im not saying I understand what he needs, or what he is going though. Im not saying that I know anything more than someone. Im not even saying that I am doing the right thing. Im just saying that I stopped listening to that voice of question. I finally said no, and started doing what I knew was helping him. And focused on the areas that he was struggling with. The areas that he WANTED to succeed in, but just couldn’t.
With it, weve gotten a whole bunch of attitude. Attitude, of a seven year old boy. Not frustration and anger because he cant tell me what he wants and because I am missing the mark completely. But attitude, from a seven year old boy – who doesn’t WANT to do that. Attitude because he CAN. And nothing makes me smile more than seeing the logical reason going on behind his brown eyes, and seeing that light bulb go off.
I take the advice that is given to me, and instead of jumping all over it, I think it over. I ask myself if it will help Josh, and not just something that has helped every other kid out there. Because Josh isn’t every other kid, hes Josh. And I havent been treating him like that.
When someone tells me that I need to get him in bed by a certain time, I think it over. I weigh the pros and cons. I realize that most kids do succeed better when in bed by a certain time. I do realize that after a certain amount of “Late night bed times” he does reach his limit and flips out – like we all do. But I also realize that he needs this time too. Just like I do. He needs the time to unwind, by himself. Just being him. On the couch. Alone. Late at night. Until he falls asleep. There is no fighting him to sleep, there is not bed time hassle. Everyone knows what to expect, and while it isn’t ideal? Its Josh. And it works. For us.
Friday I was flipping through his notebook that he brings back and forth from school. Realizing I havent gotten a note from his teacher telling me they need to talk to me lately, I went looking. And what I saw made me realize that this kid? He is something else. Stories of what he has been up to. Today he shared. Yesterday he didn’t. The day before he slapped a kid. But the next day he offered another kid something of his. Its up and down. Nothing is secured.
But were working towards a common goal. He is no longer just another number. Another failed story. Another helpless cause. Another head in the crowd. Im trying to no longer question everything related to him. Im trying to take things, one thing at a time. And tear it apart, bit by bit, before presenting it to him. Im trying. To treat him like I do the other kids. Im trying. To give him what HE needs to help HIM. And while it’s a guessing game at best…Im learning. Hes learning. We are learning. Together. Were figuring this out. One step at a time. Realizing that everyday, is a new start. And a new start is nothing to be taken lightly.
At the end of the day, at the end of the advice…its up to me to figure it all out. To put the pieces together. To take the relevant advice, and apply it as necessary. And at the end of the day, I try to remember that tomorrow. Is a new day. And we can, and will start over. Again and again. Until there are no more days to start over.
Because starting over. Everyday. Is so worth it.