“Way to go, Cate! Keep it up, you are almost there!”
“Yeah!! You got it!!”
I stood, I cheered her on like crazy. I knew how bad she wanted to reach the top of the rock climb wall, and by george, if she made it or not, I was going to be her number one cheerleader. She climbed to the top, she hit the button and down she came, small smile and all.
I am a mom. The one thing I want more than anything for my kids right now? To be happy.
I want them to be able to enjoy their youth. To be play with friends, have fun experiences, make thought out choices, try new things, learn new things. Be happy.
Twice I saw my kids unhappy. Not just unhappy from an event, a moment, a spill – but unhappy for a period of time.
Declan was young. Before he was diagnosed with autism, before when we didn’t know what was happening, but we saw erratic behavior. We saw it as bad behavior. All you heard was:
“That was bad!”
“Declan, time out!!”
Declan was frustrated. He kept getting yelled at. And in every picture I have of Declan for an entire year, he is sad.
We got Declan help, we learned what he was experiencing, we learned how to help him. We gave him patience and understanding. He still got some time outs, but they were better suited for Declan. And one night I got a picture and saw the smile I hadn’t seen for so long. It was wonderful.
The second time, was my Catelyn. Catelyn lacked so much in socialization, yet never learned from social situations. Also, I should point out, it never bothered her either. A couple of times, yes – when she wanted to have a birthday party, but didn’t have anyone to invite. Or when she watched her brother go out a lot with friends, and at that moment wished she was doing something, too. But in general, Cate seems to enjoy her own space, her own time. She enjoys reading, watching her shows on TV and is great at independent play. She likes to live in Cate-land. She likes to create and play in worlds she has devised and scripts. Cate can play that way for hours.
This past year, Catelyn was bullied.
And I watched my happy-go-lucky carefree girl shut down. She didn’t ever mind being alone. But Cate did mind finding negative notes written about her, being pushed out of her bus seat and told she was no longer allowed to sit at her lunch table. She felt out of control. Cate felt helpless.
For a long time she didn’t smile. If I took her picture, she would give the faintest of smiles yet her eyes evaded the camera lens. She cried a lot. Gave up easy. Seeing her sadness hurt. I want to see her happy! So we got her some help.
I haven’t taken any pictures where I see her soul smiling, yet. But she is happier. She is playing with other kids well. Cate has been given a list of things to say in social situations, things that do not come naturally to her and she has had to learn, which has helped her a lot. She is receiving a lot of positive feedback! Catelyn is calm. She is happy. She has new clothes. Cate is learning so much and smiling so much more.
For my children’s youth, I want them to be happy. I want them to be carefree and learn good things. Declan and Catelyn have a couple of obstacles – things that make some learning more difficult. More difficult when you don’t realize what is going on, but I do now. I can help them find ways to get over those obstacles and continue to cheer them on, win or lose, in everything they do.
And be happy youth.