That’s OUR question..
We talk often about our victories and challenges with our autistic son but we haven’t written a lot on our daughter, N. N is a gregarious, lively, effervescent little 4 year old. She might occasionally be accused of being a bit of a drama queen but her endearing kindness and generosity of heart is something we are so incredibly proud of, we surrender to the “fancy pants” nature of her dramatics and just let her be.
She is too smart for her own good. We have been told more than once that she’s a chatty cathy at school, more so because she’s bored with the curriculum than disrespecting authority. She is extraordinarily creative and is constantly creating her own songs, painting pictures, telling us about the gang of imaginary friends and what they are doing “hanging out” in her room.
All this to say that we are now at one of our first mega cross roads in making a parenting decision that could significantly affect N’s school career and either put her on a path of great success and adventure or have her starting the list of “things my parents did to make me turn out this way”. The decision?
I know…this is truly not the most agonizing decision a parent needs to make but there are a lot of little pieces to the puzzle that are effecting our decision on this. In part, the decision is being swayed by the fact that N has an autistic brother… very close in age that (over the past year) has really grown into a reliance on each other that I’m not 100% sure we want to change anytime soon.
- Establishing learning of a new language which could greatly assist in career decisions, travel, and so much more
- Learning french at a young age would potentially set her up to be capable of learning other languages easier as she grows up
- This could provide her the challenge she needs to keep her engaged and enjoying school
- This could be something that is hers…and hers alone. I often worry about her getting her fair attention from us. We are so very cognizant these days of making sure SHE gets big props when she accomplishes something, gets alone time with each parent and even gets disciplined in the same way we treat T.
- N (as young as she is) has taken on a maternal protection of T at school and helps guide him when they are at daycare together or when they come home having done the same curriculum. Conversely, T adores N and protects her if ANYONE gets upset with her. Their connection as brother and sister at this age is fierce and they truly play and interact almost as if they are twins than 18 mths apart. It’s beautiful and I’m not sure how drastically it would affect both of them if we made this choice.
- As much as she is bright, I have heard some terrible stories of how much kids struggle in learning regular subjects in a different language, so much so that if they choose to leave the french program, they are years behind other kids and occasionally have trouble catching up
- The daycare and school we have the both of them at right now are amazing and we worked hard with them in the development of assistance for T, not to mention the wonderful friends that N has at the school where she would have none at the new school. This would mean two drop-offs, two pick-ups, twice the school activities
There you have it. My quick synopsis of where we are struggling and time is running out. I ran into another mom the other day and she indicated that they are close to a waiting list at the French Immersion and we had better get a move on. She also indicated that the school is darker, dingier and the staff don’t seem to be AS interested in working with parents on their kids success. Fabulous!
So I am appealing to you, the reader, to let me know your thoughts on whether we should move ahead or stay status quo?
I know this post might create a bit of animosity with certain peeps. You know, the ones who don’t believe in TV..but this is an homage to today’s world of technology and finding a way to live the life of sanity in a world that is chock a block full of flurried activities, kids hopped up on goofballs, media infusing into every dimension of our lives, and the constant desire for “balance”.
So it is here I make the statement, that I truly think the Ipad saved my bacon (or at least for now, my sanity)…and had it not been for its beauty of creating the ability to compromise, share, educate, entertain and satiate the desires of one 5 year old Autistic little guy and his 4 year old bossy boots sister, I’m not sure I would be in such a happy place at the start of 2012.
Here are 3 examples of how our lives have personally changed with the addition of a valuable piece of technology.
- Mornings were a disaster. Full of hyped up, non-listening moments of repetitive requests to get dressed, eat breakfast, brush your teeth and get out the door. Usually ended up with a meltdown (Depending on the day it could either be a parent OR a kid- take your pick) but nonetheless, it wasn’t typically a happy experience. But one crazy day in the fall, my darling husband introduced the IPad and the insanely fabulous games it can produce (like Angry Birds) and suddenly our little guy turned into an angel. Why? Because we employed the First (list of all tasks required to get ready for school) and Then tactic (you can have 5 minutes of playing games before we go). We don’t have to give promise playing every morning now, its just the matter of T has started to recognize that good behaviour reaps good rewards and it is working amazingly well.
- Any regular kid gets tired of waiting at a restaurant for food. Our daughter is exceptionally driven by food and can turn Medusa on you in a nano-second if she’s hungry (she gets that from her mom) whereas T often finds the crayon drawing papers to be an exercise in frustration as he loses focus quickly and finds challenges when he can’t pick something up or stay in the lines. Enter the IPad, a portable chance for brother and sister to amicably take turns playing a game together, doing word recognition, drawing, spelling, you name it (they know if they don’t play nice its gone) and mom and dad to have a small chance at catching up with each other without having to be on 100% of the time we are out.
- Quite often in the past would translate directly to H E Double hockey sticks if I had the kids with me. Imagine Groundhog Day and every time I went, it would be a battle ROYALE…constantly asking to stay in the cart, (or close to the cart), Don’t disappear around the corner- (I grew up with a mom who has the kids kidnapped the minute i lose sight of them), singing ridiculous songs to keep them entertained, begging T not to hide under the cart for fear of appendage loss. The entire experience would have the kids upset, me upset and ready for a drink the minute I walked in the door. Voila, we share the Ipad now with me downloading our whole shopping list via epicurious while the kids play and often we are playing against each other while shopping. This has taken something that was causing me to go grocery shopping at 11pm or to suffer through avec the kids to something I actually find enjoyable with them now.
Yes, I know some of you are horrified that it sounds like I am using the Ipad as a babysitter. Maybe I am but I am doing it responsibly and in ways that help my family manage that illustrious balance we all desire and keeps a much happier group together when we get home. I’m not reaching for the wine and I am finding I am smiling more when we roll into the parking lot after our adventures. Think about it.
** I’d like to salute those who have gone before us without technology at their side. The pioneers of parenthood if you will. I once asked my grandma how she managed to raise 4 kids and stay relatively jovial..her answer..”Sometimes, you’d just have to leave the kids with the neighbours, go for a walk and treat yourself to a glass of wine”. Grandma, I’m in!