Yesterday was rough. Like throwing-in-the-towel-on-parenting rough. Cole had tested me all. Day. Long. He ran into parking lots. He didn’t listen. He laughed at me. He lost privileges. He sat in time out. I wanted to cry.
My nerves were shot. My patience gone. It all came to an ugly head at the park last night… where an entire U9 team of boys and some of their parents saw me lose it. Not pretty. Not pretty at all.
I am ever grateful to Hubz, who swooped in, grabbed the offender (Cole), and while chuckling a bit, told me to go play with Tate while he took Cole home for insubordination. (Hubz reminded me, using logical arguments was not going to work with a 2 year-old. Which I knew, but I was not in a happy place.)
So, they left, and Tate asked to be pushed on the swing. I obliged, trying to clear my head of the ridiculousness that had just occurred. We were chatting a bit when a boy about his size came over and sat on the swing next to him. He actually asked Tate if he could swing there. Without looking at the boy, Tate said sure.
I pushed Tate again, and then stepped away to watch Jake. In those moments, something amazing happened. Tate interacted with the boy on the swing. Awkwardly, but appropriately.
“What’s your name?”
“Tate, pump like this….out, in, out, in…”
“Yeah. I need a push, Mom.”
I walked back. I asked the little boy his name. “Z” I told Tate he could have one push, but then he should pump (he can do it) like Z.
“Can I have underdog underwear push, please?”
“You got it.”
“Um, Tate’s mom, I wish I could have an underdog push.”
I gave Z a big underdog, and then watched as he encouraged Tate to pump. And then it happened…..upon Z’s urging, Tate started pumping! Ohmygoshitwassofreaking awesome!!
From there, Z and Tate climbed on the play structure. Together. Z would make a statement, and Tate would respond. For serious!!
“Mom. Mommy! Come push us, here!” Tate shouted from the merry-go-round.
I pushed them and these boys laughed together. They interacted. They were having fun.
From the merry-go-round they went to the slides and monkey bars. Z asked Tate if he wanted to play. Tate said yes. To Z. While establishing eye contact.
The boys chased each other over the bridge and down slides. They played on the monkey bars. Z initiated monkey sounds–‘cuz they were monkeys. Tate followed. He then made a monkey sound and directed it at Z. Z made one back.
“Look at us here, Mommy, We’re monkeys. Ooh-ooh, aah, aah.”
Z chimed in with his own monkey sound.
I felt a lump in my throat. Tears welled in my eyes. I took a deep breath. Cleared my throat.
“Yes, yes you are, Tater Tot.”
They played for about 5 more minutes. It was all kinds of wonderful. Eventually, Hubz and Cole came back…and a few neighbors were with them. They joined Tate and Z. Tate, exhausted from the social interaction, quietly retreated to the swings again.
Hubz pushed him, and I excitedly told him about the playtime. We high fived each other…and Tate. Tate ran back to join the other children. He was a little more on the periphery this time, but still in the mix.
He actually tried a part of the apparatus that had caused great anxiety in the past. Our neighbor’s daughter helped him by talking him through it. When he finished, she was the first to praise him. More high-fives!
For a neurotypical child that was just another day at the park. For Tate, though, that was a milestone. A big one. Weeks of working with therapists at the park, of us playing with him and his brothers there all came down to this… and what seemed like such a little push from me was a huge leap for him.