Growing up too slowly… or not

The thing about having a child with ‘the A word’ is that on the really tough days it can be hard to see beyond the things your child can’t do.

You try not to do it, you beat yourself up about it and you feel horrendously guilty for falling prey to it, but yes there are times when the fact that your lovely little person can only say a few words and phrases, still looks wobbly on their feet at the grand old age of three and will only eat meals involving either cereal or pasta (or anything beige) that are the things that you focus on.

Rather than the fact they are pointing out what they want more, will fetch a bowl or cup to tell you they’d like a snack or drink, have become confident enough to actually walk for a spell on the school run and have made a special friend at nursery.

It sounds terrible, but it’s something we all do.

With NT (neurotypical) Mini-me I absolutely felt the pressure to start and smash it with potty training when friends began turning up to play dates having ditched the nappies. So it’s not really surprising that I’m finding it hard that Blue-eyed boy shows absolutely no interest in this area whatsoever.

My more relaxed friends tell me to quit worrying and ‘let things happen when he’s ready’. All good advice, unfortunately in my over-analytical tumble dryer of a brain, it’s hard to just let things lie and pick my battles.

I find myself fretting over the fact that Blue-eyed boy is still perfectly happy sleeping in his cot, when some of his pint-sized mates from the baby days are now on their second bed.

I wonder if I should stop giving him a dummy at night time – despite the fact that some NT children I know used one until they were well past five.

I see pictures on Facebook of other children grinning into the camera and it genuinely feels like they are from a different generation to my gorgeous little man.

But down this road only heartbreak and parenting madness lies.

Recently I got chatting online with some other parents of autistic children and their experience and feedback was hugely helpful to me. As was knowing that I am far from alone with all of the above.

One thing a couple of them told me really resonated, and helped me to start looking at things from a different angle.

We all complain about our children growing up too fast, they said – well aren’t we lucky that our little ones with ASD stay in the moment for a little longer than the rest.

When I look back on those long-ago days when Mini-me was a baby I can see myself in her tiny first bedroom singing and rocking her to sleep and it’s almost like looking at a different parent.

I can remember delighting in her first sentences, seeing her cheeky sense of humour emerging almost as the words tumbled out of her mouth trying to catch up with her. But it’s hard to mentally time travel back to those precious, fleeting memories.

Now our almost six-year-old resembles a teenager sometimes more than she does a little girl, so advanced is her confidence, her rebellious streak and her wealth of witty comebacks. And that’s wonderful in its own way.

But our Blue-eyed boy still comically sticks his bum in the air when he sleeps, like they both did when they were babies.

His eyes light up and he toddles across the room to me when I pick him up from nursery.

He loves a cuddle in front of ‘vintage’ episodes of Ben and Holly.

His favourite thing to do is often to listen to me sing him nursery rhymes and then join in.

And he still finds playing peekaboo hilarious.

So when those ‘can’t do’ worries and fears enter my mind I’m going to try to instead focus on the moments that may be long gone with Mini-me, but are happily still very in the present with my beautiful Blue-eyed boy.

And be thankful.

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When you know you’re done, children-wise.

I turned 38 the other day. Yes, the big THREE, EIGHT. Not quite the big FOUR, ZERO.

I thought my BFF’s lovely boy summed up the situation pretty well when he asked: ‘Mummy, is Auntie Sarah older than a dinosaur?’

Answer, probably! Even if just those plastic copies from the Natural History Museum.

Don’t worry this latest blog (rant!) isn’t another nostalgic look back to my ‘youth’ or further confessions of Eighties music addition, actually I’m feeling pretty happy in my own skin right now.

It might have something to do with the fact that 38 is just a nicer number than 37, or that my lovely friends and family really spoiled me this year, but a large part of it is about where we are with mini-me and blue-eyed boy (who by the way can now say ‘Ello Dada’, a huge achievement, even if it does come out with an accent somewhat like a Bond villain!)

I’ve probably mentioned it but blue-eyed boy will turn one in a matter of mere weeks. This means that our horrendous food bill should hopefully start going down as he leaves his formula days behind him and starts chomping on what we eat, but more importantly that he’s inching ever closer to being a little more independent.

Of course there are massive pros and cons to this, but as it’s a fact of life you can’t really do much but embrace it. A little like when they start opening the kitchen cupboards and pulling everything onto the floor.

Mini-me has been feisty, driven and carving her own path since the age of about five months so we really didn’t have any choice with her. While other children wept and clung to their parents as they were left with a child minder or at nursery, mini-me used to race off to play giving hubby and I barely a backwards glance.

By contrast blue-eyed boy is endearingly clingy. And he’s so cute that hearing him sob when I leave a room still hasn’t got frustrating, yet.

He’s also a much slower developer than mini-me was and isn’t crawling yet, just slowly shuffling, and dancing, on his bottom, happily playing with his toys or ‘exercising’ in the Jumperoo.

But while we have walking, running and then the terrible tantrums to come, he’s still much more self-sufficient now, can amuse himself for a time and loves to ‘chat’.

I think this is why I really love this age. By ten months, or so, babies tend to be really responsive, a joy to be around and also you can see the little person they are quickly turning into shining through.

Although I loved the constant cuddles of the very early days with him, I know I don’t want to go through all that pregnancy and breastfeeding malarkey again. And fortunately hubby agrees.

As he says a healthy and happy one of either sex is a pretty winning combination, and we were also both one of two ourselves.

That’s another reason I feel lucky I suppose. We see friends umming and ahhing over whether they’d like a third, but know absolutely that we’re done.

And that means starting to our get lives back a little, as blue-eyed boy hopefully starts sleeping through the night on a regular basis and I can turn my attention a shade more to building up my journalism and copywriting business.

Which, bringing things back to the recent birthday, is why this pressie from another BFF was so perfect.

NeatFreakPhotoJan6th

Yes everything seems exciting, new and full of possibility at the start of my 38th year. Long may it continue!

*When did you know you were ‘done’? I’d love to hear any reader’s thoughts!