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.)
Monty

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.

xo

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