Fall has arrived, as I admitted to myself on Monday. The days are still decent though – the chill of Chicago winters has yet to arrive, thankfully – and we’re spending as much time as possible outside. The wee ones love to ride their bikes and go for walks with us and more.
Each morning as we wait for the bus to arrive, Little Miss immediately runs for the tree in our front yard and scales it. She’s my monkey, my athlete, my gymnast, my strong little girl who has no fear. Mister Man has always held back. As much as he wants to climb the tree, he can’t.
I’ve been convinced for a long time that his “can’t” is more a “won’t” than anything else. I know that he lacks core strength and that his coordination isn’t the same as other kids’ abilities, thank you autism, but we’ve been working at it, and I’m seeing a difference in a lot of things from his ability to now do a pushup when he really wants to the ability to do a bridge up (trust me, this is incredibly difficult if you have low core and shoulder strength).
He will run to the tree and grab the climbing brand and his feet will peddle uselessly against the trunk, unable to gain enough purchase to stay. He quickly drops back down, unable to use his arms and shoulders to lever himself up and over that branch. He’s been frustrated by it, not just because of his failure to climb, but because his almost two years younger sister has been climbing this tree for two plus years now.
I love that he never gives up.
And last weekend, he asked for my help for the first time in a long time. I explained again that he needs to bend his elbows so that he has a chance to use his strength to pull himself up. He has a tendency to not realize what his arms and body can do and what they are doing, so he will hand walk his hands further up the tree, never bending his arms and pulling his body towards the tree, not realizing that this tactic is doomed to failure.
Nodding, he grabbed the branch and used his feet to get his body horizontal. With my hands touching and supporting him – letting him know I was there were he to fall, but not pushing him at all – he remembered to bend his arms when I pointed it out. And he pulled himself into the tree for the first time. You have no idea how bright that smile was.
I helped him down after awhile, and he practiced it another few times, the last couple without my help to prove to him that he really was doing it all on his own. And then he stayed up there to read a book, finding the most comfortable branch to hang out on.
He now runs to that tree each time we have a few spare minutes and scampers up it. Or tries. He was shocked the other morning after it had rained that the tree was too slippery to climb. And I watch him struggle into that tree, knowing that he can do it and that he’s figuring out that he needs to have faith in himself to accomplish more than he ever dreamed.
And that? That right there is all I want from him in life. Happy, challenged, with faith in himself. It isn’t a big dream, but it’s the one I have for my children. What is your dream for your child?