When R was a little, he had a onesie with a sign “If only they would stay little”.
This is something that most mothers say.
Little was I to know how much he would like staying little and, if I am to be honest, how much we would enjoy this childhood unfolding in slow motion
At 9, he has still retain such sweet innocent charm – that people often mistake him for a much younger child
My sister will ask him to “fulfill all his baby jobs and give her flying kisses”, a nurse will giggle indulgently when she sees that R cannot blow his nose, someone will bump into him at the gym and instead of saying “Excuse me” they will give him a hug instead.
People coo at him, instead of talk to him. He gets more spontaneous hugs and kisses than any 9 year old I know.
In fact , DH is probably the only one, in all of R's world that pushes him to act his age.
Many articles that adult auties write about things they wish we knew about them says how much they hated being “infantilized”.
But R LOVES being baby - in his self-concept- he sees himself as a small child. And he likes it that way
The other day he told me that he was a toddler.
Most neurotypicals have the peer pressure/natural incentive to start become more independent.
I remember my niece was barely talking and all she wanted to do was do things by herself, when she stopped wanting to be in our laps.
But it’s time to gently nudge him along on this journey.
To nudge myself along as well.
For its not just that I enjoy my sweet child so very much, it’s also that he was so ill for so long.
It’s made me want to be an armor around him – so defenseless and fragile he seems to me.
But that crisis has become part of our normal and we are no longer in that day-to -day mindset of urgency
Its time for this baby, this baby-mama to grow up
This post was written for Hopeful Parents.
Congratulations for sharing this sometimes difficult change in mindset in such a gentle way. You are so good at the gentle way.
Growing up, even on a different and self-accepted timeline is has long-term implications. I cheer you in this endeavor! You sound ready.
(In familiar cultural jargon:) Drive on!
Once again, you've put it in words so eloquently!!! My "baby" is 12 and juuuuust starting to separate himself from me. I've cherished the extra few years of snuggles and now I have to let that go. SOME. OUCH, but it IS [sort of...a bit late] developmentally appropriate. My g, too, was very sick much of his early years (105 was his "normal" fever) and I had a similar experience where I bonded with him so fiercely and protectively...You are a wonderful mama! Love,
I can definitely relate. My son just turned 10 and he is still very sweet and innocent. It is so endearing, but I want him to be prepared as he grows older. I probably push him more than my wife, but there's definitely a part of me that is enjoying that he's growing up too fast.
Lovely post and I hear what you're saying. They feel quite safe and want the status quo to remain unchanged! Your R being so unwell has probably played a part too. But, do you know what? each at their own pace I say. My guy trundling along wonderfully and at 14 I suspect he's a tad behind in the maturity stakes. As I have no doubt that other (NT) teens are too. But I still get hugs, so all's good for me! They will get there ;-)
It is a tricky time for a parent.... becoming aware that our kids are growing up and that we should be treating them as such. I try my best to treat my boy as a teen but when he shows such enjoyment over silly toddler songs I can't quite figure out where he is! :-)
It is so hard for parents to let go, I think especially when the child has special needs. As the mom of 2 neurotypical teen boys, I have shed some tears over my "babies" being grown up. I definitely babied Alex longer. He didn't mind and so much wanted to protect him from "the world". At 10.5 he is starting to pull away and while it is sad, I am happy that he is pulling away (although a bit later) much as his brothers did. This was a great post!
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