I mean it’s not like they’re cast in stone but generally speaking a parent knows their children well. Over the years some things are just given. We know their likes and dislikes. Things that are possible and things that shall remain impossible, forever. On the whole, there is no point in perseverating over the impossible things. Far better to accept that the impossible things will remain impossible, forever. Better still to work on their strengths, to enhance them and encourage them.
Writing or penmanship skills would fall into the later category around here. I put my faith in technology. I accept that they will never willingly write anything, ever. It is a less preferred activity but fortunately keyboards are high on the preferred list. Luckily my children are growing up in an age where pretty soon everything will be digital. Even as I think about this I hear of new devices, assisted technology, voice recognition programmes, pens that record and transcribe, which make the whole writing issue a complete bust. I only wish that I had anticipated these developments a few years ago, as it would have saved me many a sleepless night.
You can dress it up in technical language but I have a shorthand version, ‘don’ts, won’ts and can’ts.’ It’s very important to be able to tell which is which. ‘Can’ts’ are the easiest, the child cannot do whatever it is because at the moment, it is too difficult. A parent can spend lots of time with ‘can’ts’ to help teach the skills to conquer. ‘Won’ts’ are more tricky as they generally cover aversive issues. They are brick walls that can be whittled down with time and a good de-sensitization programme. Lastly there are ‘won’ts.’ You could call it a catch-all category for everything else, but around here the key is a lack of motivation. They simply have no interest in whatever it is. They can be very broad, dressing skills, eating skills, toileting skills. They are very difficult to make interesting. This is why so many parents of autistic children are suckers for ‘themes,’ everything from dinosaurs, Thomas the tank Engine and Pokemons. Once you have an interest you can tie it into all the ‘won’ts.’ One day, some genius will produce themed toilet paper, wipes and soap, and all my troubles will be over.
But I digress.
Hence, early, oh so, so, early in the morning, I exist in my usual fog as I wait for caffeine to kick start my brain. My son has stolen down in the night to park his bottom in front of the computer screen. Eyes glued to the little pictures he provides a stream of verbal information that is too obscure to give me the slightest clue. Kirby? What on earth is he on about now? I rub my bifocals on my dressing gown in the hope that the clouds will clear, so that I may offer something intelligent in reply or failing that, something relevant.
“You have one?”
“Have one what?”
“Which kind of a thing? A big thing or a small thing?”
“Yes, I definitely have lots of small things. Can you think of any more describing words about the small thing that you want?”
“Er…it is be have lines……it is be have curly wire…..it is be have…..a cover.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah! You are have a small notebook for me?”
I pick my jaw up from the floor because I know that this is really a trick. What would he want with a notebook indeed? Whatever one might usually use a notebook for, I am quite certain that he has other plans, although I’m at a loss to guess what that might be. “Sure. Come upstairs with me to Daddy’s office and we’ll hunt one down.” Together we rifle through supplies until we find one that fits his purpose. But what purpose?
The notebook is now full. He requested another!