Judgement day at the YMCA.

[Originally posted by Courtney January 2013]
Just this morning on the way to the Y to swim with Liam and some friends, I was wondering when I would write another blog post. And here we are.

There are moments that Matt and I think to ourselves, “Liam is doing so well! He’s giving good eye contact, his babbling sounds more like words, he is …. fill in the blank”. And if we are being really honest, because of those moments, we think to ourselves “Liam is growing out of this! We have progress! He doesn’t have autism!”

Then we leave the house.

Liam loves to go swimming at the Y. He gets one on one time with Matt or I or both. He gets to splash around and he feels like a king. I equally love taking him for those very reasons.

What I don’t enjoy about taking him to the Y is that we have to follow rules that he isn’t use to following. One of the battles we face is getting Liam to process instruction. He learns how to ‘play by the rules’ most effectively by consistently experiencing life in the same setting or schedule. Take him outside of that, and a lot of what he knows gets undone.

It’s so much easier to go to the Y when Matt is in tow. His reflexes are that of a cat and can spring into action before Liam gets too far out of our grasp. I, however, am as awkward as a fish on land. It takes me a bit to get to him and by that time, he is up to no good FAST.

{Queue Liam running on the pool deck.}

NO RUNNING! {yells the lifeguard. She even dutiffuly blew her whistle a few times.}

Of course every parent winces when their kid runs on a slippery surface. Every parent yells “stop running!!”. And there is always a contingent of kids who don’t listen, slip and bust a lip open.

However, in these quick moments, I realize {again} that we are not in a normal situation.

What should I do? Was I going to go explain to the lifeguard {5 times} that Liam wasn’t going to listen to her? That she could yell until she was blue in the face and he would ignore her? That he wasn’t a bad kid? That I wasn’t a bad parent?

I could yell at Liam to show her that I am good parent. I could whisper in Liam’s ear not to run, even though I know he wouldn’t understand and the real reason I would whisper is so the lifeguard wouldn’t judge me or my parenting skills.

What to do?

I smile. I smile at the lifeguard trying to do her job. I blow off the worry of being judged as a bad parent because I can’t get my kid to stop running. I whisper to Liam that we can’t run on the pool deck in hopes that consistency will find it’s place in Liam’s processing world even though I know he is not in a place he can learn and hold onto such information.

Life with Liam looks different and sometimes I forget that until we step outside our door. I don’t know if it will ever look “normal” from the outside. I have to stop worrying about “normal”. I can’t worry about being judged as a bad parent or a helicopter mom. My job as Liam’s mom is to love him. Teach him. Squeeze him. Give him all the experiences in life that I can. And I can’t do my job if I’m too worried about what someone else thinks of me doing my job.

SO. If you see us on the pool deck at the Y and Liam is running like a wild man set loose, don’t worry. His awkward, loving mom is coming after him the best way she knows how.

Courtney.

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