Friday, 28 December 2012

My Little Helper

I believe I have already done a post almost identical to this one.  And I imagine I will feel the need to do more posts just like it!

I'm a HUGE believer of every cloud having a silver lining but in this case my silver lining occasionally has clouds.  I am absolutely not  whinging about the situation; just pointing out the difficulties.  You see, I have a little boy who likes to help and I wouldn't have it any other way.  I am so glad he is able to help.  And that he wants to help.  And that he knows how to help!

My Buddy Boy is growing up.  For those of you who don't know, Buddy Boy has Down syndrome.  We had a big decision at the end of last year, deciding how to school him.  Home schooling was out of the question although I love the idea of it.  Let's face it - he doesn't listen to me very well and I drive him mad because I can make the mistake of treating him like a little boy and he hates it!  I can't help it.  I love my kids and I probably do molly coddle them a bit..... but I try not to.  The girls don't mind my protective instincts so much but Buddy Boy gets very frustrated with me. 

That left us with the choices of mainstream primary school or a special school.  It's a hard decision because you feel that you need a crystal ball.  We spent hours trying to imagine the different outcomes at each type of school.  We settled on mainstream with the option of being flexible if it seemed to be the wrong choice.

He has just completed his preparatory year of education and will start grade one in the new year.  We are delighted with how he went.  He learnt all of the school routines with ease and always knows where he should be and what he should be doing.  He stands to face the flag and sings (some of) the national anthem.  He sits quietly during assembly and listens well.  If his name is announced for an award he proudly marches up to receive it, shakes hands and turns to face the audience with his certificate on display.  Then he beams!  I think I can confidently say that he smiles the largest smile of any child at the school when receiving an award.  I don't think he always knows what the award is for, but it doesn't matter to him.  He knows he has done something good!

He has learnt to write his name and is beginning to tell me the beginning letters of words.   For example, 'The Wiggles' start with 'W'.  He can count to twelve but always stops to tell you that five is his favourite number.  We have been very lucky with our local school.  They have a very clear idea of what true integration means and back it up all the way.  Buddy Boy receives no special treatment.  He is never singled out.  He is just one of the kids.  He does do separate work but always with the other children.  His confidence is fantastic and he has matured from a little boy into a big school kid.  He's almost unrecognisable as the little boy from last year.

Anyway, I have digressed very badly.  This post is about how he insists on helping at home.  He looks for ways to help all day long.  No playing for my boy - there's work to be done!  The trouble is he doesn't check with me.  He just gets on with the job at hand.  If there are dishes at the sink, they get washed (not well) and placed on the draining board.  Invariably there is a massive puddle on the floor.

Now if he told me he was going to wash them, and I had the time to stand with him and show him to check for residue and to wash all surfaces of the dish, he would do an amazing job.  But he doesn't want assistance and I often want to do my own task, so instead I walk in to a huge mess.

I caught him heading out the gate this morning so I asked him to show me what was in the bag?  Everything including batteries and gel!!!

He's an expert at tidying up but his method is far too thorough!  He cleans everything into a big pile, sometimes placing it all in a tub or a box, sometimes he just throws things in the outside rubbish bin without checking with me.  Again, he thinks he knows it all and doesn't want assistance but I have found clothes, shoes, toys and the brush and shovel in the bin before.  And again, if I took the time to stand with him and discuss why we might keep one thing, but not another, he would learn much more quickly.  As I write this I'm thinking it sounds like I should allocate him more of my time but that's not necessarily true. It's a juggling act.  While I really want to see him learn and gain new knowledge, I also need to allow him Independence.  I don't want to destroy his confidence by giving him the impression that he is unable to do anything without my guidance.

Another photo taken while I was writing this post.  Not a set-up.  This is how he appeared out of the house!

So I juggle how often I should interfere for the sake of his learning, and I juggle time with him as opposed to doing the projects that I want to get done, and I juggle time with him as opposed to his sisters.  It gets easier year by year but I need not to sit on my laurels.  I must keep him going forward with his life skills because he is such a strong and capable person.  In the meantime I need to be more patient.
Every day for the last week he has come out of the bathroom in the morning and said, "Smell!" while lifting his arm.  He has been using his dad's deodorant (can't break Hubby of this dependence) so yesterday I showed him how to apply my bi-carb. I'd rather he used that if he's going to continue with this habit.

Yesterday he tidied the yard.  I was horrified to discover that he had tipped out my entire new bottle of seaweed solution and the cider vinegar I had outside for the chooks.  I have caught him in the past with a hammer and saw on the verandah.   He was about to fix a wobbly pole!  Then there was the day that he waltzed out to the orchard and let all the baby chickens out for a run.  The dog got hold of one but luckily I caught it in time and the chicken survived.  He also rakes leaves for me without being asked and barrows them to the yard for me to use as mulch.  He helps put away the groceries and tries to feed the cat two or three times a day.  He scratches re-organises CDs and DVDs and brings bark into the house for us to use in the fire.

I often feel very tired but I love my little big boy (silver linings, clouds and all) and when I stop to think of it, I am very privileged to be such a big influence in his life.


Busy mum of 3 said...

And here is me getting easily frustrated with my very abled children!

It is very humbling to hear stories such as yours, keep them coming, it reminds me how fortunate I/we are.

Your love for him shines through.

Linda said...

Hi Cheryl, I hope I didn't sound woe is me. I was going for 'OMG! Look what he's done now!' It's quite comical when I'm not in the moment. Makes me think of Dennis the Menace. Mind you I can get frustrated alright! You don't want to be anywhere near here on a school morning!

Dani said...

"Love is all you need" :) He'll feel it, know it, and nothing else is required.

Buddy Boy is a gift from God. Bless him - and you.

Busy mum of 3 said...

You never sound woe is me at all, I just gleaned a lesson for myself from your post.

Absolutely it is funny and frustrating to read of Buddy Boys antics. At least you can laugh when the dust settles on his latest caper!

livingsimplyfree said...

I completely enjoyed this and laughed at his antics. Seeing him with the hammer brought back memories of my eldest son when he was little. I woke to find he had disassembled the toaster or used a very large screwdriver to fix the carburetor on my car (something I frequently had to do) but his solution was to jam the entire screw driver down inside. The carburetor had to be rebuilt to use it again and the toaster never did work right after that.

I see your love for buddy boy shining throughout this post, I had a cousin with Downs Syndrome and she had the complete opposite life, her mother tried to hide her away (this was nearly 60 years ago when she was born so times were different) but even at home her mother couldn't stand a mess and refused to allow her to help.

Linda said...

Thanks Dani, love and a LOT of patience! Lol

Cheryl, I like it when something you hear or read gives you perspective. It's easy to forget the bug picture. I do it all the time. This time of year always makes me reflective.

Hi Lois, yes we often get a giggle from our kids. Their view on life is so different to our own. If we get our head off our own 'important' grown-up objectives and focus on the kids views, life seems much better! And as for your cousin, I have heard so many similar and sad stories! Heartbreaking! For some reason people with disabilities were seen as millstones with nothing to offer. Bloody societies with their stupid rules which revolve around the unimportant things like appearance and money. They are the last things on my list of what matters in life. Oh gee! You really got me going, didn't you? Hit a nerve methinks!

Ali M said...

Hi I love reading your blog about your family and life. Its nice to hear about peoples honesty and about "real" life! We all have our worries and woes however you seem to smile through it. I have a boy with Aspergers and find times quite difficult. Maybe some signs around the house with pictures of stop sign and picture of you and then a picture of tools or doing chores.And to say to ask you first. That might remind him to stop, think and then check with you then at least you have the heads up on what may happen. Its just a though it has helped me on occasions. Good luck!

Kim said...

Oh linda, I love your posts because they are so real and show so much love for your family even when they are being 'helpful'. I remember you wondering what school would be like for him at the beginning of the year and here he is having achieved so much at his lovely school.Your little boy sounds so wonderfully active which means you have to be wonderfully active as well- keep up the great work !

Kim said...

Oh and ps- my son took to the keys of the antique piano my grandmother gave me when he was young in order to 'fix it'. I walked in to find the end of every ivory key smashed ... now he is 13 and I find myself running my hand over the keys remember that moment when he was little in such a fond way. So boys and hammers must go together.

Linda said...

Hi Ali, Thank you for your comment. I also find things difficult at times. Please don't think I'm always smiling through it. Just ask Hubby and the kids! We have our tantrums and tears alright! It's just that I think my boy is a champion and once a situation is over I can gain perspective and see the amusing side. And you are spot on about the pictures. Buddy Boy has always responded well to visual aids but they have dropped off our radar since he started school and we don't have specialist support. I do reinforce my words with key word signing but thanks for reminding me about pictures. I'm going to try that.

Kim, thank you for your lovely words. Yes I was so anxious about him starting school and felt it was about time I gave an update on how well it has gone for all of us. We are very lucky. And thank you for sharing your piano story. It would give me hope except for the trepidation I feel about what Buddy Boy may be doing at the age of 13! LOL!