Friday, May 1, 2009
Ask Me If I Play with My Children
Painting is not new in this house but this kind of painting was. I remember when I first bought this paint set, it was at a garage sale selling for only $4 for a package of a dozen-plus rollers and paint trays that was barely opened. I figured out that it was probably never used because this kind of paint set requires tons of paint and you end up making a huge mess on the floor and get paint all over yourselves.
I always made the excuse that Logan, champion ADHD boy, would make a mess and possibly not play appropriately with the paint so I never let him play with it. It stayed in my closet for over a year. I also have a bunch of toys that require more supervision or me as a playmate and sadly they almost never get used ie. LiteBrite cube, some of our preschool activity books, games like Chutes and Ladders, a bunch of marker sets, a bowling set...etc. As the list goes on, I feel more and more like a bad mom.
But finally last week, I decided to get out of my I-don't-have-time-for this-mode, and let them paint away. Of course, the boys loved it but I did notice that Spencer would only use one color and kept wiping his hands on his clothes. Logan had a lot of fun but he focused more on filling the paint trays and not really painting. Of course, everything was a huge mess. So I spent half an hour cleaning up the mess and that was just the living room. The bathroom was a Jackson Pollock painting.
I didn't give up though. We tried it again today but this time I got smart. I didn't give Logan access to the paints and I strongly encouraged Spencer use more than one color and he did. Therapy Mom is in the house!
Spencer really needed Therapy Mom; he had some sensory challenges to overcome in order to have fun. Rolling up his sleeves can be very upsetting to him but he eventually forgot about it because he really wanted to paint. He also got his hands dirty and and since he has tactile defensiveness in his fingers and hands, he started saying "wash, wash" but the therapists told me to say "Later, we'll wash it later," and I did and Spencer then kept on painting. YES!
For Logan (green hands pictured), it was more about learning what happens when you make a mess. This time, I only gave him only one painting tray and just a few colors with no access to the paint bottles. This was a good move because not only did he focus more on painting rather than filling paint trays with paint, but I made him clean up the entire mess by himself. This took incredible patience from me. A glass of red helped with that. I made Logan wipe up the floor and wash out all the sponge rollers and painting trays. Everytime my little ADHD boy forgot and walked away, I told him that the paint set would go in the garbage because he needed to prove he could handle this set. My husband came home in the middle of the cleaning and he thought I was being too demanding of Logan but guess what? Logan was busy. That is the key phrase: HE NEEDS TO BE BUSY. So does Spencer and since Spencer wasn't cleaning, he kept climbing onto the windowsill. Of course.
I'm so glad I finally got the energy, patience and most of all courage to break my old habit. I have lots of excuses: I frequently find myself dealing with bureaucracy (80% of my time- I hate that), taking them to therapy, arguing with the bus company, talking to counselors and therapists for both kids, researching GFCF recipes and products, and of course prepare dinner, and by 3 PM, I'm exhausted- I'm sure you know the feeling. Also, I don't mean to make so many excuses but the bureaucracy really gets to me- ensuring that my child gets the most appropriate education is HUGE task. There are a million things to do and that is a later post.
Anyway, what is the end result? I don't play with my kids and don't spend any time teaching them anything! What is the point of quitting my job when my number one reason for resigning was to ensure that they make progress and that plan included me working personally with them? This is wrong, so so wrong.
When they painted, I got messy too and got flustered because they wouldn't stay still enough for me to take a photo. But all in all, it was good and for a minute I felt good because I was doing what I had set out to do when I left my job to be a stay-at-home mom to two very special kids.
(Pictured above: Logan uses the roller in a creative way and Spencer copies (as usual). Below, he must have tried really hard not to do this but at the end, he couldn't help himself. Logan loves making handprints. Too bad, they go all over the bathroom too)