Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Superstitions I Developed as a Parent -Special Needs Edition

Superstitions range in topics and subject matter. From the number 13 to pennies, there are some common beliefs about things that will bring either bad or good luck or will result in a particular behavior or action.

As I listened to a television show joke about the origins of some well-known superstitions, I thought, "I don't believe in that stuff."

Then I got to thinking.  Maybe I do. While I have no problems opening umbrellas inside of buildings or stepping on cracks, I do have a couple of parenting superstitions that I apparently follow. Here's a few of them.

-Don't talk about a healthy streak; you will jinx it!
My sweet Jaycee has struggled with a variety of health conditions including 2 different heart conditions, obstructive sleep apnea, asthma, lung cyst, recurrent pneumonias, and GERD. The most dangerous thing for Jaycee is a simple cold. She has been admitted to the hospital multiple times for a cold that escalated to respiratory distress. Not every cold sends her to the hospital, but these require me to monitor her closely at home. The times of illness are scary, stressful, and unpredictable.

The times that are healthy are wonderful. I do not have to look at monitors or thermometers or consult her doctors. I don't have to worry about my daughter or analyze her breathing. We can go outside. We can plan activities and actually do them.

When the healthy days turn into weeks and months, I have come to believe that it is better to not make note of it. As soon as I declare happiness because of a 6 month healthy streak, it is sure to end. Then, the countdown will have to start all over again.

So a superstition I seemed to have developed is that I try not to talk too much about healthy streaks. Each day without sickness is appreciated and does not go unnoticed even though I do not formally draw attention to it.

-Always bring extra clothes to prevent an accident.
My daughter has been toilet trained for several years. However, she does have an occasional accident that is mostly related to her medical traumas. Sometimes just pulling into the hospital parking garage will result in her getting nervous and having an accident. Clearly the hospital triggers something emotional in her and for good reason!

It seems that every time I take her bag of extra clothes for that just in case moment, we don't need it. If I suspect that a test, blood draw, x-ray, or doctor will give cause to necessitate "the bag," I rarely seem to use it. If I forget the bag or proclaim that we won't need it, then Jaycee is bound to have a problem that I didn't foresee. Then, I am left with a mess to deal with and a bag that is not conveniently near us.

My mantra lately has become, "Let's take the bag with us, so we won't need it." The presence of the bag seems to prevent the need for it, and she's generally accident free when the bag is with us.

Sadly, I have started believing this superstition is true.

-Giving up on a skill sometimes helps it develop.
I am not sure how many times I have become too focused on Jaycee developing a particular skill. I get disappointed or frustrated that despite both of our best efforts, the skill just hasn't been mastered. Then, I give up. I don't stop all my efforts necessarily, but I submit to the fact that the skill is not going to happen any time soon. Then, it does!

When Jaycee was in pre-school, I wanted her to write her name so badly. We practiced tracing the letters in her name, used methods from Hand Writing Without Tears, and reinforced writing during outside chalk play. Fine motor has always been a challenging area for Jaycee, and handwriting proved to be hard. Despite all of our handwriting practice, she could not write any letter in her name after months of practice.

Then, I gave up. I decided Jaycee may never learn to write her name, and I may have to be okay with that. Shortly after, Jaycee "signed in" on our name page on a home school day due to illness when she was 5 years old, and I could actually make out some letters in her name. I did a double take. I couldn't believe it, but there it was. There were approximations of every letter in her name. I could tell that she tried. Hope was restored!

It appears sometimes giving up on a skill becomes the catalyst for the skill to come. Maybe time passes quicker when mastering a skill isn't the main focus. Whatever the reason, I seem to believe that skills happen when I quit trying so hard with Jaycee.

These are some of my superstitions I have developed as a mother of a child with special and medical needs. Do you have any?

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