Friday, October 23, 2009

The long and winding road

One hour.  That's how long it took for me, Henry, Leo to walk a loop around our neighborhood today.  It's a walk that would normally take us 15 minutes, with both kids in the stroller and me in "exercise mode".  However, today Henry wanted to walk himself, and not ride in the stroller.  I had grand plans of pushing them around the neighborhood quickly, getting the workout I desperately needed in enough time to get back for the bus while Leo slept in the stroller. But it was a beautiful day, and we left the house with time to spare, so I let him walk.

We started out slowly and then moved to a crawl.  Henry stopped to pick up every purple leaf, and literally smell every dying flower along the way.  He stomped on an acorn, and then plopped himself on the sidewalk to examine what was inside it.  He peered through the neighbor's bushes to see what was behind them, and touched the ReMax balloon on a "for sale" sign at the bottom of the street.  I found myself checking my watch every five minutes, constantly saying "Henry, hurry up, we don't want to be late to get Griffin at the bus."  But there was no hurrying him.  He meandered up and down the street, asking questions about what the street signs said and stopping to listen to the birds "singing to each other".

As I was about to tell him for the 40th time to hurry up,. I stopped myself and just watched as he chased after "the biggest leaf I have EVER seen, Mommy!".  What was I hurrying him up to do?  We had plenty of time and Leo was quietly sleeping in the stroller like I planned.  What was the rush?  Tim and I had just spent that morning meeting with a child development psychologist, talking about working together to help Henry with his behavior issues.  The psychologist wanted to hold off on any testing until Henry was four, because he felt that Henry was getting help already in school and that four was a good age to do the kind of testing that he felt Henry needed.  I wanted the testing done now, so I could find out what was wrong and get the help he and I needed at home as soon as possible.  I was looking for some sort of magic - someone to tell me you need to do this, this and this and everything will be ok.  What the psychologist told me was that there was no immediate solution.  There was a lot of hard work that we needed to put in every day to be able to see the results we wanted, and that it was work that would be ongoing for a long time.

As Henry and I continued on our way, I realized that this walk was an example of what we needed to do as a family to help him and us all.  I needed to put aside the constant need to keep moving - whether it was on a walk around the neighborhood, or always running errands to keep him out of trouble in the house - and just put in the effort and time to sit with him and find out what makes him tick.  For that hour that we walked, things were perfect.  He listened.  He held onto the stroller when we crossed the street without having to be told.  He laughed and sang and left Leo alone so he could sleep.

We finished our loop of the neighborhood and stopped back at the bus stop.  He turned to me and said "Mommy! Can we do that again?"   I promised him we could.  If he was willing to put in the time, so was I.


  1. I love that!! It was beautifully written and I can totally relate. At first it seemed you were writing about us. When we go on walks, I sometimes find myself saying "Come on, come on" trying to hurry them along for no particular reason. They are looking at things along the path, and I have to stop myself and realize that looking at things along the way is part of the adventure. What is that saying, "Life is about the journey not the destination." It's easier for me to see it when we are on a walk, but sometimes I think I hurry them along for no particular reason and we all just need to enjoy the ride that we are on.

  2. Alysia I can totally relate with wanting a solution and answers yesterday and I can also say that the toughest moments for me with Bo and his struggles have happened when I am stressing about being late or hurried. I mean what is the big deal if he is late arriving to school a day here and there....does that mean I am not the perfect mom and he is not the perfect kid....we already knew that :) but when I am in the moment I can lose sight of the fact that sometimes letting go of outside expectations and just being together at a slower speed if needed can be ok and sometimes really incredible like your walk and Henry's joy in being able to just be. For me there is a balancing act between unconditional love and acceptance for my kiddo as he is now which fosters self-esteem and our relationship and the need to try to help him learn, grow and develop to the best of his abilities implementing all sorts of treatment and techniques. I have seen it again and again where Bowman is best able to move forward developmentally when not being pushed or pulled to do so but in the moments where he is able to just do it on his own terms. Thanks for the reminder ;-)

  3. Thanks to both of you! It seems so cliche to write about slowing down since every parenting magazine talks about it but it's so hard to do in reality, especially when you have a kid who is just a little bit different than everyone else.