Last week as I attempted to guide Dylan with self-feeding, I saw it. Frustration. Total frustration. Dylan had the spoon and dunked it into the applesauce. He brought it clumsily up to his face and missed his mouth almost completely. I kept my smile on and said, "Oh! That's OK! That's alright!". Dylan made a sound that I can only describe as total frustration.
I think that was the first time I have seen that from him.
He attempted something that is difficult for him and he knew, he knows, that it's hard. He knows that he is not good at it and he is very frustrated by that.
I was explaining this to one of his new therapists a few days ago and as I was talking to her, I realized that this hurt. Knowing that my son is feeling frustrated by something that he can not do well, and realizing that he now knows it is hard for him...that hurts.
She responded with, "This is why we need to get him walking as soon as possible. He is only getting bigger and smarter and will soon be feeling bad about not being able to walk, too.".
That hurt, too.
Last night we went sledding with my sister and her 2 sons. Cassidy was struggling with carrying up her own sled and eventually got frustrated. "I CAN'T DO THIS!", she yelled about half-way up the hill. Becky and I shouted to her, "You CAN! Keep going!". She continued to get increasingly more frustrated by the whole situation until finally (apparently) she threw herself backwards into a snow bank. (I missed that part as I had just prior to that decided that "Dylan" was too cold and therefore I should bring him back into the nice warm house).
But Cass was frustrated. She could not do something that she wanted to do. It was difficult for her and that frustrated her.
That hurt to see.
This morning I made the connection between Dylan's frustration and Cassidy's frustration. It IS frustrating when you can not do things that you feel you should be able to do. (Honestly, I feel it most mornings as I reach the "upper abs" section of Jackie Warner's On Demand workout. I should be able to do this. Why can't I breathe, why can't I DO THIS?!!) Life can be frustrating. Life can be challenging. Not only for Dylan, though...not only for kids with special needs, but for everyone. Will it be more so for Dylan? As things become increasingly challenging, will it be more frustrating for him? Will it hurt him knowing that he is not able to do things that his peers can do?
I honestly do not know, but what I DO know is that the whole notion of thinking about and focusing on what we can't do is wrong. Yes it's frustrating when we can't do things, but look at all of what we CAN do!
When Dylan's new Physical Therapist came to our house for the first time two weeks ago, one of the very first questions she asked me is, "Why isn't he walking?". I responded, "I don't know. Perhaps he is not ready.". I wish I had added to that all of the amazing things that he CAN do.
Walking will come. Self feeding will come. Cass being able to carry up her own sled - that will come, too. We need to continue to build on that self-confidence, though, because there will always be frustrations with the things that we can't do.
Oh how I want my kids to see the good in themselves and to have the confidence to know exactly what they are. To keep their heads up high, be strong, and be the best that they can be... I want...when the frustrations come, for them to keep going, to roll with the punches and to remember all that they CAN do.