Wednesday, June 30, 2010

On Independence

Blink's ninth birthday was yesterday. As part of our celebrations, we went to a suburban pool for the afternoon. Actually water park would be a better descriptor. This place was off the charts. The highlight for Blink was the 4-story tall water slides. The boy whom we've been struggling to get up off the couch for months climbed four flights of stairs dozens of times. It was wonderful.

What was not wonderful (for me) was having to make snap decisions on how much independence to let Blink have. Clearly, other kids his age were navigating the park independently. Blink had the drive and the confidence to do so as well. Luckily, I was there with a friend and I was able to ask her what she thought about the situation. She encouraged me to let him have some freedom.

So I did. He asked if he could walk around by himself during a pool break while his sister and her buddies played in the sand area. I said yes but told him he needed to come find me and ask me before he got back into the water. I told him it was a test to see if he was responsible enough.  He followed through!  So I let him go.

Blink's not a daredevil (though he sure did enjoy the rush of the slides!) so I wasn't worried about his physical safety. The pool is not deep and there are lifeguards (attentive ones, even) everywhere. Instead, I was worried about a dispute or an altercation with another child. Luckily, that didn't happen.  I'm still on the fence about whether it was a good idea. I'd hate for him to get in a fight with a three-year-old, you know?  I guess we'll have some preemptive talks about the responsibility that goes along with independence.

But spectrum parents, how do you know when to let go?  Is it even possible to be a helicopter parent when you have a child who is quite delayed socially/emotionally?

Blink frequently goes to the lake with his wonderful PCA and she confirmed something I have often thought: water tends to regulate him. I'm so excited about having another outlet for everyone to have fun and get some exercise. We got a season pass thanks to my mother's generosity, so I intend to go often!

P.S.  When I asked Blink in passing if he wanted to do the next session of swim lessons, his answer was an unequivocal YES.

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