Model Behavior

January 26, 2013 at 7:58 am | Posted in Kids | 10 Comments
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“Children with Asperger’s Syndrome need very clear and concise social guidelines,” said Brady’s wonderful and well-meaning therapist. “Social norms and behaviors are like a foreign language to them. They need to be taught very specifically how to handle social situations. Brady will mirror your behaviors and reactions to the world at large. YOU are his best and more important role model.”

Oh great.

Maybe that’s why my kid can swear like a truck driver. (But honestly, why give truck drivers the bad rap? The expression should be “swear-like-a-Catholic-school-raised-middle-aged-marketing-professional-turned-housewife” because really, I am amazing at it.)

Or maybe that’s why he falls apart at the slightest frustration. Demands perfection from himself. Lies in bed and worries at night. Falls in love with every animal he meets and then frets about them for the rest of his life.

But I can’t say I’ve ever thrown myself on the floor when a stranger in a store smiled at me. Or shouted “Nipples!!” when someone asked me how I am today. Those are pure Brady.

This behavior modeling thing is a lot of pressure to put on a mother who already puts a lot of pressure on herself. I’m back to that perfection thing again: If I’m not a perfect mother, how can I raise incredible kids? Notice I didn’t say “perfect” kids. I don’t need my kids to be perfect, just me. Something about having no regrets. How will I live with myself if they don’t turn out all right?

And what is the ‘perfect’ behavior to model for your kids anyway? Is it ok to show them your weaker side? Like that you get completely pissed off, too, when you can’t get that last drop of (organic) ketchup out of the squeeze bottle? (You paid about $4 more for it, you damn well better get to enjoy it on your locally-grown bison burger. Or your Ballpark Frank. Whatever gets you through the meal.) Is it a bad thing for them to see that you lose your patience while driving and drop a few choice words?

(Recent conversation in the car:
Brady: “Cut it out, you jerk-off!”
Me: “Jerk-off?? Where did you hear that?”
Brady: “You say it, Mom, when you’re mad at some idiot in front of you who’s not going fast enough.”
Me: “Oh… uh… Well, don’t say it, it’s not nice.”
Better than some of the other words I’ve chosen in the past, I guess.)

What about when I’m tired, frustrated, overwhelmed, exhausted? How about when I’m Cute Bradyhormonal? Are you trying to tell me that my kid’s going to grow up to be a chocolate-gobbling, wine-swilling, weep-at-Hallmark-commercials wussy boy? Or what?

This parenting stuff is hard, and it’s totally compounded by having a child you needs a lot more from you than your average kid. And don’t most parents hand down a whole heap of crazy to their kids anyway? Haven’t we seen some of the best and brightest come from really screwed up homes? And vice versa – nuts from seemingly perfect backgrounds? I know we’re dealing with something different when it comes to Asperger’s because these beautiful children are so very literal and need such clear and complete guidance. But really, how badly can I mess it up? (Ok, probably pretty badly if I’m not careful. Maybe Mommy needs a little more herbal tea…)

So I ask you, how did your parents contribute to your complete and total insanity? And what are you doing to wreck your kids’ lives? Also, if it takes a village to raise a child, can I send Brady over to your house when he’s really driving me nuts? Then you can explain why it’s not ok to leap into the chair of an unsuspecting guest, rake your fingers through her long dark hair, and throw your blanket over her head in a crazed giggling fit. I’m sure you can handle it.




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  1. Send him on over….Grandma Rose loves all that stuff!

  2. Loved the blog as always.
    Re: How my parents contributed to my insanity – Don’t ask!
    Re: What I did to wreck my kids lives- Plenty!
    Re: sending Brady to my house – Sure, kids are always more subdued for anyone other than their parents and he’s always good for some comic relief which we can alway use around here.
    You’re doing great, probably way better than most of us could or would. Relax, keep up the good work and don’t forget to keep us smiling with your blog! 🙂

    • Yes, too bad you wrecked my life so badly – LOL!! So far, you and Grandma Rose have offered to take Brady. I am packing for him as I type… 😉 xoxo

  3. Michelle, your blog brought me back to my youth; I was always so angry with my father. As I got older, though, I realized he just did what he knew how to do and the best he could – that’s all any of us can really do. We all worry that we are doing the “right” things for our children. But what is “right” really? What’s “right” for one is not necessarily “right” for another. Relax, you’re doing a GREAT job! xoxo, Xandi

    • Thank you so much – it’s definitely a challenge at times to keep my cool with BOTH my kids. And you are right, they both need different things from me. I have to be more careful with Brady, but also more direct. With Michael, I have to let him have a say in what we are doing and how we are doing it. If he has some control and choice in the matter, he is happy as a clam to go along with the plan! Trying every day to do my best… 🙂

  4. You are a very good mother.

  5. We must be united by cosmic forces cousin 🙂 You are a fantastic mother, and I think that the more we behave “normally” around them, the better off they will be prepared for the real world. I could never be June Cleaver..not that I would want to (puke), but I’ve been trying to tone down the former Catholic School girl language (sometimes) 🙂 I can be tough on Charlie sometimes about certain things, but I try to explain my reasoning (e.g. in gentle words that I don’t want for him to be teased by other mean little brats,e tc..). I heard something really cool the other day from a few of these seasoned educators the other day that I thought was kind of neat “Gentle words, Gentle hands, and Gentle heart.” I don’t know exactly how to implement this in my house, but I have been able to implement “NO ASSAULT AND BATTERY IN OUR HOUSE”. Asha has thrown the F bomb around a lot, but she mostly says “friggin”…wonder where she gets that from 🙂 The chewable melatonin is working SO AWESOME for both of them. I hope that we can get together soon! I feel so much more at ease with our daily meltdowns when I am with people who actually get it, and I find myself laughing a lot more about the interesting behaviors than flipping out about them when I am with the right peeps 🙂 Miss you!! Give those cuties a big kissy from all of us! XOX

    • Haha, we Catholic School girls are all alike! Glad the melatonin is doing its job. Sleeping is not an issue in our house but meltdowns certainly are – from both kids and Mom! I agree, it’s good to have people around who get it and can help appease the “mother guilt”. Our babies are going to be just fine, it’s us we have to worry about, LOL. Love to see you soon, we will have to make plans. xo

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