This morning about 7:15AM, as I was about to head for home from work to take the kids to school, my cell phone rang.
It was Katherine. Uh-oh. I knew immediately Wil wasn’t cooperating.
“Mom, Wil won’t get out of bed. When he does, he just sits on the floor and won’t do anything.”
As I’ve mentioned numerous times in previous posts, there is a special kind of stubbornness reserved for our kids with Down syndrome. There is no amount of force that can enourage forward momentum. In fact, even an ounce of force can set you back 10 feet from where you started.
Space and time to make a new choice is where he needs to be. When we need to go somewhere, I ask him to start packing his bags with the items he wants at least a 1/2 hour in advance. That way he is in control of his choices and things move very smoothly. This morning, however, more time was evidently required. I knew if Katherine were to make Wil get dressed, he would fight back and that would extend into a very uncooperative day at school.
“Ok, honey, let him have his space. Open up his blinds to let light in and turn on PBS Kids. That may get him moving. Open the back door so he can see how nice it is outside. Let him know what lunch is at school today. It’s one of his favorites, chili cheese dogs, but he can have it without the chili. If he refuses to cooperate, don’t push, you do what you need to do to get ready and I’ll take him to school after you if that’s what I need to do.
“Ok, Mom. Thanks, bye.”
When I arrived home, I was informed that Wil did in fact get dressed, but he still wouldn’t eat breakfast. He went outside to play. Going outside to play was a good sign. At least he didn’t try to hole up in bed.
When I arrive home on the days I work early, which is typically 2 days a week, we only have about 5 minutes until it’s time to make our way to school. Katherine and Elizabeth are professionals at getting Wil up and running. They know the mix of encouragement and push that works. When I come home and Wil is ready to go. They rock! He’s eaten breakfast, is fully dressed, and his backpack is on. At 12-years-old, he’s quite self-sufficitent in getting dressed and his backpack items together, but the girls do need to wake him up, urge him to get dressed and decide on what he wants for breakfast.
They balance this with getting themselves ready for school. And they do it as a matter of routine. I’m so very proud of them and let them know it. It’s just what they do and they do it well. And it’s great for Wil to have someone other than mom around. So when Wil has the types of mornings he was having today, I never want to put extra pressure on the girls. The good mornings far outweigh the “Wil-full” mornings thanks to their help.
When I walked in the door, the girls were ready to go but there was no sign of Wil.
“Katherine, didn’t you say Wil went outside to play?”
“Yes. He went out the back door and then he was playing in the garage.”
“I don’t see him. Could he have come back in?”
“I don’t think so. I was in the kitchen the whole time.”
“Ok, I don’t want to make you late, but we can’t leave until we find him.”
I ran down to the hill to our side yard, thinking he might have gone down there to play. No sign of Wil. I went in the walkout basement door and searched the basement. No sign of Wil. I ran back upstairs to find Elizabeth looking under beds and through all the bedrooms. No sign of Wil. Katherine was walking around outside and still nothing. Elizabeth went outside and I did another run through the house. No Wil. I went back outside to hop on the 4-wheeler thinking he may have walked back in the field. There is an area he loves to pile sticks and it’s not easy to see from the house. Just as I was about to drive out to the field I heard Elizabeth yell, “I found him!”
He had climbed in the hatchback portion in my car. I had blankets in there for cold soccer games. He was hiding under one of the blankets.
“Mom! Hide and seek in the morning!!” He was full of mischief and delight. It was so darn cute, but oh my gosh! Heart attack! I was a jumble of emotions. Obviously top on the list were a mix of relief washing over the high anxiety. I was also upset with him for his sisters, who beyond getting their young teenage selves ready in the morning, also take great care with him. And he decided to vanish and in the process make them late for school.
“Wil, do NOT ever do that again! We were very scared because we couldn’t find you! No hide and seek in the moring. Only hide and seek when we know we are playing the game.”
“Now get in your seat, we need to get your sisters to school so they are not late. I want you to apologize to your sisters. Then we will come back home and get your breakfast and go back to school.”
Fortunately, we made it to school with 5 minutes to spare. It wasn’t the time I was concerned about so much as the fact that I do not want the girls to build up resentment toward their brother. They have grown into very compassionate and patient people, and the pros outweigh the flipside every day, but I always want to be sure the scales keep leaning in that direction for them.
When Wil and I got back home, I cooked him up two salmon burgers (thanks Costco!). He has never liked traditional breakfast food. A cup of almond milk (he prefers that over cow’s milk) to wash it down, and we were on our way back to school.
He was in much better spirits, so my hope is the slower morning will make way for fewer stubborn moments at school. On our back to school, he was singing “Honeybee” by Blake Shelton.
“Sounds like you are ready for a great day, Wil!”
“Yeeeeeah. Monday’s are hard, Mom.”
“I know, Wil. But you can do hard things!”
“Oh, Mom!” He doesn’t know how to eye roll yet, but boy could I hear the eye roll in that sentiment! Teenage years, here we come!
So now all 3 kids are off to school. Two with an almost late start and one with an hour late start. I’m almost about to head back to work now. As I think about this morning, I think about how different each family’s morning is. How we all figure out to keep our balance amongst the individual lives we lead. We do it our own way the best we can. We plan ahead, give ourselves extra time, try new tactics, but sometimes the best laid plans get laughed it and hidden under the blankets in the back of a hatchback. Fortunately, even on Mondays, we can do hard things! Onward!