Her son goes to a traditional school now, but he was homeschooled for preschool. Laura says, "I think moms who care about their children’s education are all homeschoolers whether their children go to traditional school or not."
Laura also shared this with me:
"My son has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and Developmental Coordination Delays. He was diagnosed shortly before he turned 5, but I suspected it at about 3 and a half. He also show signs of aspergers, but he hasn’t been diagnosed with it. Fortunately my son is high functioning and the developmental delays are less and less noticeable. If you just meet him on the street, you would never know he wasn’t “neuro typical.”
Once you spend a lot of time with him, you notice that he has odd “quirks.” He HATES water on his face, which makes bathtime about as fun as a root canal. He is sensitive to loud noises, smells, and certain flavors. He is hyposensitive to movement, which means he is constantly moving because he doesn’t realize he is. On the other hand, he is super intelligent. When we had him tested by the school system to see if he qualified for an IEP, his intelligence tested at a year and a half a head of his age and his motor skills were tested at a year and a half below his age. It was impressive and depressing all at the same time."
Laura has been blogging for nearly 6 months at Now Things Are Cookin', where she shares some yummy looking recipes, her menu plan, and other yummy tidbits! You'll definitely want to check it out! You can also connect with her via her Facebook Page, Google+, and Pinterest.
Here are a couple of questions for Laura, before we get to the Super Quesations:
What's your parenting style? I read a phrase in a parenting magazine several years ago that I like - “benign neglect.” Another phrase I ran across two years ago is “free range parenting.” Basically let my son be a child. If we go to the park and he wants to play in the creek, no big deal (unless it’s 32 degrees, of course!). He climbs on rocks and backwards up the slide; jumps in puddles; and plays outside at our house by himself. I do check on him; I know where he is 99% of the time, but I give him the freedom to experience independence and life. The phrase he hears the most is “Please be careful. I’m not in the mood to go to the ER today,” as allow him to jump off a wall I think is a tad too high or climb a tree I think is a tad too challenging. He is allowed to make his own weather appropriate clothing choices. He’s allowed to say he doesn’t like a certain food (and the list is extensive!), so long as there are healthy choices on the list of foods he does like. He can cut his hair anyway he prefers, which much to my chagrin, right now is an “army cut.”
I’m only strict on a few things - homework needs to be complete before it goes back to school, lights go out at night at 8:00p.m. sharp, he’s limited to 10 hours a week screen time (TV, computers, and videogames combined), we mind our manners and show respect to people and property, and if I think he’s doing something unquestionably dangerous like climbing out his bedroom window onto the roof, then I do put a stop to it.
By the way, I’ve never had to take my son to the ER *knock on wood*. The last time he visited the doctor for an illness, I think he was 5 years old. He’s rarely sick enough to miss a day of school.
What parenting disagreements have you and your partner struggled with? My husband does not like to admit that my son has SPD. He doesn’t like to think that something might be “wrong” with his son. I choose to look at it more as my son is “different” or not “average.” Unfortunately, because my husband doesn’t like to admit the SPD, he doesn’t like to use any of the methods we’ve learned (rather I try to teach him) on how to handle behavior challenges. He doesn’t agree that my son can’t transition well, for example, and thinks it’s ridiculous that I start the bedtime routine a full hour before lights go out so we can get everything in before someone gets upset.
If you had it to do over again, would you have more or less kids than you have? My son would like a baby brother very badly. My husband who didn’t want any children at all tried to convince me when my son was 2 to try for a second. Under different circumstances, I would love to have a second child. But 7 months of colic and the SPD issues we struggled with before my son was diagnosed did me in. Not to mention if I got pregnant with a second today, I’d be 44 when the child was born, so...um...no.
What is your favorite family tradition? When I was about 3, my grandmother gave me a Little Golden Book version of T’was the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore. Every Christmas Eve, just before bed, my dad, younger brother and I would all sit under the Christmas tree and read the book together while my mother looked on and took pictures. As long as I live I will always hear “On Dasher! On Dancer! On Prancer and Vixen!” read in my father’s baritone voice. When my son was three, we started that tradition with him. At first my husband tried to read the book, but we all agreed it wasn’t the same as I when I read it. I put all the same inflections in that my dad used to and have the such excitement and joy about the book that my husband just can’t live up to. Last year my dad bought one of those Hallmark books where you can record yourself reading along to the story. He read the book and gave it to my son as an early Christmas gift. So now I read the T’was the Night Before Christmas and then we listen to my dad read it. Christmas just isn’t the same without that tradition.
10 Super Questions
1. How is your family traditional? How is it untraditional? I’m not even sure what traditional and untraditional are anymore. My husband and I are both on our first marriage and we’ve been married almost 20 years. We own two cars, and have 1 child and a dog. We’re both college educated, and I was a SAHM until two years ago when my son started kindergarten. I cook real meals for my family almost every night of the week. Sometimes we go out to eat on Saturday or Sunday. I’m on the PTA board and the Den Leader for my son’s Cub Scout den. (They don’t call us Den Mothers anymore. It’s not PC.) I think that’s the traditional American dream, right?
We have struggled financially for the last 6 years or so, especially the last 3. We live in an 85 year old house with a leaking roof and peeling paint that we can’t afford to do anything about. My husband and I are both pretty liberal. We are members of the local Unitarian Universalist Church. I identify as Christian, but my husband is a freethinker (atheist) and Humanist. Our son says he is Christian, but he only believes in Baby Jesus. He’s not so sure about the grown up Jesus yet. We try to give him the tools to choose his own path.
2. Does your actual parenting style differ from what you thought it would be before you had children? If so, how? Yes, I thought I would be much more strict and much more protective of my son than what I really am. I am protective and can get all growly momma bear if I think he’s struggling at school or with a friend. But I’m not trying to stuff him in a bubble either.
3. What was the best mothering advice you ever received and who gave it to you? One morning at church when my son was about 2 years old, he would NOT stay in the nursery and he would NOT remotely be quiet in church. I went back and forth between the nursery and the sanctuary with him. At one point I burst into the nursery in tears and shoved my son at the older mother who was tending nursery. “Just see if he’ll stay, even if he cries.” I begged. “He’s too loud in the service.” The other mother said “Honey, if they have kids, they will understand. If they don’t they never will.” That little bit of advice has applied in so many situations and has helped me relax if my son forgets his manners and becomes a wild monster at a very inappropriate time/place.
My best friend also reminds me occasionally that just because my son isn’t “average” doesn't mean he shouldn’t be treated that way. That if I treat him like he has special needs ALL the time, he will grow to expect being treated differently instead of being mainstreamed into society.
4. What was the most surprising thing you learned in the first year? Babies cry a lot. Well, mine did. He had colic for seven months. I thought I’d go insane. I really thought the first year was going to be eating and pooping and sleeping. It was not. It was nursing for hours on end, marathon diaper changes and screaming for 12 hours straight. I love babies. I hated the first year.
5. Has your view of the world changed since you became a parent? If so, how? We eat healthier now, for sure. My husband and I ate a lot of fast food and frozen pizzas before becoming parents. It’s important to me to teach my son healthy eating habits.
I actually don’t see the world as a big, bad, scary place with a very few bright points. I know there are dangers out there and I know that we, as parents need to be cautious. At the same time, though, I feel we need to let our children be children. I feel if we constantly live in fear of something or someone harming our children, we pass that anxiety and stress on to them. I don’t want my son to be scared to step out of the house. I want him to see the world as a bright, loving, peaceful place with a few rough edges because if we teach them that it is, perhaps they will model that ideal so much, it will become just that. Love always wins.
6. What is something that you have learned about yourself since becoming a parent? Patience is not a strength I possess, but I’m trying. I can handle messiness, ooyiness, and gooyiness better than I thought I could ever. It doesn’t matter what the house looks like, but it does matter if my son goes to school with dirt on his face. And apparently, much to my son’s frustration, I have no imagination. I’ve come to enjoy Halloween, a holiday previously I hated as much as the Grinch hated Whoville and roast beast.
7. What about your child(ren) reminds you of yourself? My son is so stubborn and determined that every time we lock horns, I look into his eyes and I see myself. When that happens, I know I’ve got to back down and try a different approach because he never will. But he is also stoic and compassionate at the same time. He wants to save the world. He loves animals so badly he ran away from home this summer so he could adopt a dog he fell in love with earlier that day. A friend pointed out, that he wasn’t running away from home necessarily. He was planning on coming back - with a friend. (And yes, as soon as I realized I couldn’t catch him on foot, I chased him down in the car.) I would have done that same thing he did, given the chance.
10. What annoys you most about other mothers? I plead the fifth on this one! No, seriously, moms who hover too much annoy me. I know I’m probably pretty far on the opposite end of the spectrum on this, and I probably annoy a lot of moms because of it. I do try to be understanding of moms who are more protective than I am, but I’ve seen moms who just can’t let their child get dirty or swing too high or get in the creek. Mothers who see their children as small and helpless or reign them when they are just being kids because they are afraid of letting their child get hurt, bug the shit out of me.
Thank you, Laura, for your honest answers! You certainly fall into the Super-Mom category!
I have to say, I really like the mothering advice you were given in church! Oh, and your idea of turning Legos into marshmallows! Haha!
Click here to see which super parties I link up to!