In my career I monitor the development of children ages birth to 3. I walk parents through some difficult times. I do my very best to focus on the positive with a child whenever possible.
For some children this is very easy. There are others, though, whose parents have been given a very grim outlook. They have a child that will need assistance of some type for life.
Parents have all of these random pieces of paper that talk about all of the things wrong with their child. Even I am forced to place some focus on the needs through the use of assessments and observations and questionnaires.
One of the questionnaires that I use with families has a really nice ability to focus more on the positive. It asks really non-threatening questions. And in the end it asks the best question ever. This questionnaire asks “What do you enjoy most about your child.”
I love the way that a parent’s face softens when that question is asked. Their eyes twinkle and a grin forms on their lips. No matter the abilities or disabilities of the child, I almost always get this nonverbal response from parents. That is then followed by some of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard about their child. This question truly takes out the disability and leaves only the child that belongs to that parent.
On the truly difficult days in my house I attempt to take opportunity to answer this question for my boys. God knows I love them with all my heart, but some days it’s easier than others to find the things I enjoy. But when I really stop for a moment and think I know the transformation happens to my face too. And, my answers look something like this:
Eli – Ocean Wave hugs; the songs you love to sing me; the way you love to dance it out with me; the questions that you ask me; your sweet smile; that you now WANT to dunk your head in the water; that you are starting to be able to read to me; the way you have to stomp your right foot while you are playing Wii; that even though you’re 6 years old, you still love Blue Bear and want him by your side at bedtime every night; your wickedly awesome Lego creations… These are a few of my favorite things.
Keegan – The way you love to snuggle with me; that you still want me to rock you to sleep sometimes; that you love to dance it out with me (ok, we do a LOT of dancing it out at this house!); that you are independent of your brother and enjoy having your own friends but still adore hanging with your big brother; the songs you are starting to make up and sing to me; your truly infectious laugh; your ability to know just what to say when I’ve had a bad day; that you love to use funny voices when you are doing pretend play with your Batman guys; that you are able to make your brother feel better when he is having a hard day… Again, I could keep going, but these are my favorite things.
I offer this challenge to all of my readers who are parents. On those truly craptastic days, take a moment to look for the happy. Remind yourself why you love your littles so much. It makes the bad go away and the good get a little better.