About Me

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I am a below knee amputee. More importantly, I am also Mommy to two boys, a very active 10 year old (Robby) and an mischievous toddler (Timmy). I have learned that being a parent with a disability can create some unusual and sometimes humorous situations. This blogger is available for hire! Let's talk and learn how a blog can expand your business.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Just Like Me

Yesterday I attended Robby's parent-teacher conference. During my tenure in the classroom I venture to guess that I have probably participated in well over 500 parent meetings, and I was always comfortable and rarely felt any anxiety.  Of course, it was a lot easier being on the other side of the table!

I was anxious all day as I tried to push my worries aside. Logically I knew how Robby was doing and wasn't expecting any surprises. After all, I talk with his teacher daily and I am fully immersed in the classroom activities. Despite knowing his strengths and weaknesses, I found myself increasingly nervous as conference time approached.

Thankfully, there weren't any surprises about his academic progress. He is doing well in his classwork and his handwriting has greatly improved. (If you have a youngster who is struggling with penmanship, I highly recommend the Handwriting Without Tears program!) After hearing the praise from his teacher about his behavior and his classwork, I should have left the meeting upbeat. Instead, I felt an uncomfortable mixture of pride and worry.

I'm so proud of how hard Robby has been working in school. His scores are above grade level and he is flourishing. His teacher described him as sweet, pleasant, accommodating and sensitive. He is the leader of his social group and doesn't hesitate to stick up for a friend who is being picked on.

Robby was also described as worried and fretful. He is a pleaser who becomes upset when he believes that he has caused disappointment. The drama surrounding his handwriting is a prime example of this trait. He wanted to be perfect and became frustrated when he thought he was failing. He tends to keep his feelings bottled up and shuts down when he perceives disappointment in others.

In this circumstance, I wish Robby did not so closely mirror me. I tend to personalize criticism regardless of the constructive nature, and over analyze everything. It has taken me a long time to recognize this trait, and I now actively remind myself that the mistake was in the product, and is not a flaw in my personality. It makes me sad to think that Robby might develop this internal conflict.

It also turns out that my little crusader, who is the first to step up for somebody who is being wronged, doesn't advocate for himself. His teacher noted that he consistently forfeits his turn as door holder (a coveted position) to any student who pushes his way in front of him. If a toy is taken from him during recess, he simply walks away rather than try to get it back. I don't want him to become a bully, but I certainly want him to find his voice and defend himself with the same conviction he affords others.

I'm grateful that his teacher brought these issues to light. Scott and I, along with Mr. Bill (who let's face it probably has more credibility in this situation) are going to remind Robby that mistakes are okay.  We are also going to start role playing situations so that he will feel more comfortable in his role as self-advocate. Hopefully he is young enough that we can nip these destructive thinking patterns before it become ingrained. 

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