How Parenting is Like Baseball

parenting and baseball final

So I have to apologize for my absence- I spent the last few weeks in California for my best friend’s wedding! Needless to say, I was constantly fluctuating between go-go-go and doing absolutely nothing.

But I’m back and ready to jump back into blogging!

While I was in California, I watched a lot of baseball (Go Giants!!) and the Women’s College Softball World Series. Since we don’t have cable back home, this was a real treat for me.

I love baseball and softball. I played softball through high school, and still love going to the college games here. I take it upon myself to channel my high school softball coach and say things like, “Even a blind hog finds an acorn now and again,” and “Two hands! You catch with two hands!!”

Some things just never fade into memory.

As I watched my beloved Giants, I thought about batting averages and the salary of these players. In the major league, if you bat .300, you get paid mucho-bucks and you are considered one of the better hitters on the team.

But that means you don’t get on base 70% of the time.

Now think about that in terms of parenting.

What if we chose to measure our success instead of how many times we fail?

As parents, we fail. A lot. Daily.

I think, though, that we owe it to ourselves to focus on our successes.

Even if they only happen 30% of the time. 

Now, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try our best to brave the murky waters of parenthood. We definitely should, for both our benefit and our children’s.

Because every once in a while, you hit a home run.

I Think My Child Has Autism

I think my child has autism

Autism. The “A” word of today’s generation.

You don’t want to say it out loud, because that might make it true.

And if it’s true, your entire world just got turned upside down.

You’ve noticed that your child behaves a little differently than other kids his age. He doesn’t use as many words, and he won’t make eye contact. He also seems like he is in his own little world most of the time. And light switches. What is the deal with the light switches?

So where do you start? If he does have the dreaded “A” word, he needs help. And you need support.

Because this is a BIG DEAL.

First off, you need to visit your pediatrician. Your pediatrician will refer you to early intervention services after a discussion of your child’s behavior and your concerns.

This is something that the city/county is required by law to offer, so don’t let anyone tell you there are no resources available. Children ages 0-2 are evaluated by early intervention services. In several areas, Easter Seals works with the city to offer these evaluations and clinicians.

Your child’s evaluation will depend on your pediatrician’s referral. It can include things such as language development, cognitive skills, and physical abilities (fine/gross motor movement, vision, hearing, etc.).

If your child qualifies, these services are typically offered on a weekly or monthly basis, with goals listed on an IFSP, or an Individualized Family Services Plan. There is usually a lot of emphasis on teaching interventions that parents can do as well, at home.

If your child is ages 3-5, then it is the school district’s responsibility to find and assess potential special-needs children. Once again, this is a law, not an option. The district I worked at was large enough that there was an Early Intervention Assessment Center, but you may need to get in contact with the speech therapist at your local school.

If your child qualifies, the appropriate special education teachers and therapists will work with you to create an IEP, or an Individualized Education Plan. This is a legal document that summarizes the testing results as well as lists your child’s goals. It is good for 3 years, and there will be an IEP renewal meeting annually.

Whoa. Let’s pause.

But what about you, the parent?

I haven’t forgotten about you.

This process seems crazy and unfamiliar and maybe you’re doubting your ability to parent an autistic child.

Maybe you were already doubting your ability to parent a child at all.

Honestly, you wouldn’t be a parent if you never felt that way.

I am here to tell you that your child and your life can be every bit as happy, rewarding, and fulfilling as you imagined it would be, diagnosis or not.

It comes from a willingness to accept a new normal. In this normal, progress is still celebrated. But that progress may be baby steps, rather than leaps and bounds.

But it is still progress.

Communication occurs, but only with hard work, highly motivating rewards, and possibly alternative forms of communication.

But your child will communicate.

There will be those frustrating moments when you just want to run and hide and cry.

There will also be those moments that you are so proud of your child you feel you are going to burst.

And in those moments, you’ll realize…you do have a normal life.

2 Minutes to Cookies

In case you were wondering, yes, the title of this post was inspired by “10 Minutes to Wopner” from Rainman. So say it in his voice, it makes it so much better.

Today was a rough day. Nothing was going right, and we were all on each other’s nerves. Chicka Chicka had watched enough TV, which meant she was starting to get rowdy and I felt major mama guilt.

When I get overwhelmed like this, I grab Chicka Chicka and we bake. I usually don’t share these stress-induced treats with friends because I can’t guarantee neither of us didn’t lick the bowl. Wow, quadruple-negative.

Today we baked chocolate chip cookies. Nothing fancy. But I always set my timer to go off a few minutes before the cookies are done. Burnt cookies are the worst. So when I first check them, they look like this:

Almost done. But see that one in the middle? You can tell it’s still pretty gooey and not quite ready.

But you give them two minutes and you get this:

And people, they taste as good as they look. Everybody in my family had one, and we are only about an hour out from dinner.

So I lured you with pictures of cookies, but the point I’m trying to make is that sometimes you are so close, but you don’t know it. Your child may be so close to making a breakthrough, or a small victory might be right around the corner. And while you feel like your child should be farther along, or some developmental chart at your pediatrician’s office says they should be doing xyz, the fact remains you never know what the next few hours, days, or weeks will bring.

Keep up the good work. Everything you do matters. Even on the bad days that you feel like you’re not making any difference, you are.

You’re only two minutes from cookies.