I think that’s what Olivia was feeling this morning. Mornings can be rushed and when you need extra time to things, well, it can feel like everyone is rushing you and that makes it harder to do even the simplest things.
I feel like we (every person in our house other than Olivia) need to be reminded often that she’s not deliberately making our lives harder.
I truly believe she isn’t. She’s just quirky and different and has her own way of doing things. She’s got a method and if we give her enough time and patience, she’ll get things done.
She cried this morning. This was one of those times when I wasn’t the one who made her cry. I won’t name names but it was the other adult in our house who made her cry. He was frustrated that she was trying to put on her socks while holding a ring in her hand.
And yes, that’s pretty frustrating because, duh, it’s hard to put on socks if both your hands aren’t free. But he snatched her beloved ring out of her hand and ordered her to put on her socks. She did it but I could tell from across the room that she was fighting tears.
I took her to the bathroom to brush her teeth and while in there we had a good hug. I told her to take off her glasses and just be sad for a few minutes. Then I told her I was sorry that her family isn’t more patient with her. And THEN I told her how much I love her.
She dried her tears and we brushed her teeth and I think she was okay when she boarded the bus for school.
But things aren’t always perfectly rosy around here. They’re hard and Olivia and her stubbornness and her quirks can make even the mundane just a little harder.
We’re still working on getting her to feed herself. She’s capable but she…doesn’t wanna. She wants us to feed her. She wants to sit at the table and doodle or play with a doll or just listen to the conversation, often piping in with her own thoughts or stories and have someone (preferably me) sit next to her and shovel food into her mouth. But she’s ten. And she’s got to very capable hands and Tom and I both want her to feed herself. So we’re working on that. These days, meals don’t often lead to tears but they have in the past because when she’s forced to feed herself it takes forever. And she hates cold food which means she asks us to warm up her food, which means we’re frustrated because if she’d just eaten the damned food when it was placed in front of her, it wouldn’t have gotten cold and just give me a freaking spoon and I’ll feed her myself because this is a nightmare!
So yeah, that’s going on.
I honestly don’t think she does it all on purpose. I mean, sure, she’d much prefer to be fed than to feed herself but I don’t think she sits there thinking to herself, “Well, this is stupid and my parents are stupid and I hate having to feed myself so I’ll just let my food get cold and then ask them to warm it up and then, after they’ve yelled at me for letting it get cold, they’ll just feed me because that’s easier.”
No, I don’t think her laziness is that calculated. I think she wants what she wants but doesn’t manipulate us into getting what she wants. It’s hard to explain.
I just don’t think Olivia is that conniving. I think she’s stubborn. I think the things we often take for granted as being easy are harder for her than we realize. I think she’s still weaker than we probably realize and I know she’s sensitive.
I know we owe it to her to be patient and firm and loving as we continue to work with her to show her how much she really can do. We need to continue to expect her to do all things and yet be kind to her when those things are a little harder for her than we think they should be. We just don’t know how her brain works. We don’t know how tired her hands might get as she struggling to yank those darned socks over her toes. We don’t know how her skin feels when fabric is rough or itchy.
We don’t know and we have to trust her to tell us. We’re so lucky that she can but we have to listen to her. We have to give her a chance to explain to us when things are hard. We have to be loving and understanding that comfort items, like that ring this morning, are what help her get through the day and it doesn’t occur to her that it would be easier to put her socks on if she’d just put the ring down for a minute. So we need to explain that too her instead of yanking it out of her hand and making her cry.
We’re going to keep trying. We’re going to keep failing and then apologizing and hugging it out and drying tears (hers and ours) and trying again. We owe that to her. We owe it to ourselves so we can sleep at night knowing we’re doing our best. She (and her sister) deserves nothing less.