We say all the time to never underestimate the power of a kind word. It is very true, regardless of who you are speaking to, be it a stranger, friend, family, or even your own child. It can have such a profound impact on that person. Words are powerful, for better or worse. They can make or break a person or relationship. They can make or break a moment or experience. I think this is especially true when it comes to our own children. Especially when they suffer from low self-esteem and struggle so much with their own self-worth.
Last week I went on a sailing regatta and boy did I need the break! I felt like I was going stir crazy and just losing my mind. I was becoming short with everyone and everything and I just couldn’t curb it. We were having a really rough start to summer and I was really stressed. The kiddo was testing every boundary under the sun and it was just teenage attitude to the nth degree and then some. I wasn’t sure he was going to survive much longer. I was counting down and really looking forward to a few days away, completely disconnected from the world.
During the trip I received a pretty juicy concussion. I was pretty out of it and very tired (naturally). A few days later when we returned home and I picked my son up, I promptly fell asleep on the couch at a mere 4:00 in the afternoon. Oops. I remember him waking me up at some point to ask me something about dinner and chicken noodle soup. Then again with something about showering. Then finally about bed. At that point I was so groggy I didn’t even know what day it was. He reminded me of his rule of going to bed (if mommy is too tired then mommy needs to go to bed and not sleep on the couch) and I sent him to bed. At this point I got up, tucked him in, told him I was sorry for being so out of it and that I was proud of him for being so on the ball, and went to bed myself.
The next day I didn’t fare much better but I did make it to work and get through the day. He helped me quite a bit throughout the day with getting the dishes done, helping me make dinner, getting things I needed when I was too dizzy and sick to move, and making sure he got his shower and took his meds. My boy was on the ball. I kept telling him how proud of was of him and how amazing he was being.
Things have pretty much continued in that way. He’s being patient with me. He’s reminding me of things. He’s showering me with hugs and kisses. He’s letting me sleep. He’s letting the dog in and out without screaming at the broken screen door. And I can only respond with how proud I am of him and how amazing he is being. He really has been a rock star.
Here we are today and I’m in my room after a shower and he comes upstairs with the towels I had started to wash the other day. Dry. Ready to be put away. Big grin on his face. He started his own laundry without being asked. When he realized he forgot some clothes, he didn’t flip out (which is HUGE) he just came to me and said he didn’t know what to do. So I helped him build a load with a blanket and two jackets I couldn’t fit in my wash from the trip.
I got to thinking while on the trip about all the hype over having your kids be outside and creative and not on anything electronic over the summer. At first I thought it was a great idea, let’s have him be creative first before getting on the computer! Have him draw, have him use Legos, whatever. But you know what? Who cares? He goes to a camp with other Autistic kiddos for socialization and anger management skills. When he is on the computer he IS creating. He’s making computer game levels and characters. He works so hard all school year to keep it together, he deserves the break too.
The entire dynamic in this house has changed. He’s listening again (actually coming the first time I call, not after I turn into the crazy woman and go looking for him), he’s doing what he’s being asked to do, he’s not whining, he’s not yelling, and the attitude? So far it’s on hiatus. He is making me so proud with how well he’s been doing. He’s been making sure I’m ok. He’s been snuggling in with me in the morning. He’s been getting me anything I need if I can’t get up at that time due to dizziness. Last night he even made me a S’more in the microwave so I could have a snack too. I’ve always known he’s the best kid out there, lately, he’s been proving it all over again. All because I keep reminding him of how amazing he is.