I have a confession to make. I don’t always read the signs. Wait, let me rephrase that, I don’t always pay attention to the signs. And by signs, I mean the obvious ones that my son puts out to let you know that he either needs a break, or has had enough. And a few times (not recently), I’ve completely ignored the signs for the sheer reason if pure selfishness. Like, not wanting an adult conversation to end, simply because my son wants to go play inside, when everybody else is outside, and I’m in the middle of adult conversation with a glass of wine in my hand. And to put an end to that moment makes me feel cheated, because no one else’s kids are asking to do the same. For me… it’s the story of my life; not being able to enjoy myself most places, because my son has his own agenda.
Do you know what I mean? I’m sure you do.
I know I’ve said this before, but my husband and I make a great team. We always make sure that at least one of us has an eye on Willy at all times, and can jump in when needed, while the other catches up with old and new friends. We trade off constantly and make sure that the other always is satiated with either food or drink, etc. For us, team work is essential. Otherwise… we’d probably have a disaster on our hands, and that isn’t good for any one of us.
Yesterday, we went to a BBQ at my friends E and A’s house, and as usual, we had a blast. There was a swimming pool, water table, sprinkler, swing set, and sandbox setup for the kids to use, and right before Jason and I went inside, we reminded each other to read Willy’s signs. The signs that I am referring to are anxiety, any kind of distress, crying children, and hunger. If Willy looks like he is in any kind of distress, then all bets are off. If there is a crying child present, his anxiety takes over, and he gets “handsey.” And if he’s hungry, but is too busy to eat something because he’s playing, then all bets are off, because he just doesn’t know how to handle himself when real hunger hits. All he has to do is ask for a snack or a drink and 99.9% of the time he can have what he wants, when he wants it.
Yesterday at the BBQ, there were 11 children total, lots of adults, music playing at a reasonable volume, and a lot happening just about everywhere you look. When we walked in, Willy said a quick “hello” and then headed straight to the playroom where he surveyed the toys and commuted to a location. I on the other hand, wanted to talk with my friends, and just relax a little, but reading my sons signs were more important.
When he was ready, we headed outside to see all of the fun options that my friend E was talking about, and Willy was so excited to get his bathing suit on and jump in the pool, that he could hardly contain himself.
Let me just remind you that my son gets anxious easily, and at times, he gets overwhelmed in large crowds. But when he jumped feet first in the pool with six other kids splashing around with water guns and toys, Willy handled it beautifully. I did at one point coax him out of the water to have a quick snack, but when he was done, he went right back in.
When he was through, he got out on his own, had some lunch, and then went to check out the swing set. I was so proud of my boy for self regulating himself, and knowing when enough was enough. Woo hoo!
At one point, my husband was watching him in the pool, when he told me that Willy wanted to get dressed because he was “all done” swimming. So, I stopped my conversation with another mother, and went inside with my boy so he could change into dry clothes, and play a little.
My husband read the signs, and payed attention to them. Would I have done the same? Probably. When we were leaving, we said a quick goodbye to E and I hugged her tight. I think that I was just so grateful for a successful BBQ with my boy, that I hugged the crap out of my friend because the intensity of not know what’s going to happen with him, had finally caught up to me. To me, that hug symbolized a cool down, relaxation, content, and victory, all rolled into one. My husband was walking on air, instead of hanging his head, and I got some confidence back as well.
I know you already know this, but when you have a child that has needs that are much greater than your own, sometimes it’s just best to put your needs aside for a while and attend to your child’s. I didn’t get as much time with my friend as I would have liked, but you know what? She understood, she totally and completely got it, and I know I’ll see her again soon. I’m just thankful and grateful that I have such an incredible support system backing me. Thank you A and E. I love you both to pieces.