The Heartache of Wanting (and Waiting)

There are lots of skills that a parent enthusiastically awaits mastery of by her precious children. Sleeping through the night, self-feeding, sleeping in their own bed and potty training are just a few of the hard-won battles, in my experience. A little bit of impatience is not uncommon and often can be a catalyst to helping our children find their sea legs. But there are some skills that, no matter how hard we try, are built upon a series of preparedness precursors that we, as parents, often have little or no control of. We expose and expose but our children won’t accommodate until the developmental building blocks are in place and/or they just feel like it. The exposure is certainly helping and a necessary part of their development but, it often feels  like these things are not solely time-in milestones but maybe a combination of time-in and time-passed. 100 hours of bicycle riding with training wheels alone will not teach a child the balance he needs to ride a tw0-wheeler. He needs those plus another 100 of PT, OT and a million other balancing act experiences along the way with the innate desire and functional ability to get there. While parental and educator diligence helps, it’s not everything. Sometimes they just get there when they’re ready; when the stars align and the sun is shining and they do that thing you’ve been dying to see them do.

Still, when you see someone else’s same-aged kid achieve that hard-to-reach place before your kid does, that can be a WHY? moment that sears the parental soul.

So I’m finally acknowledging that soul-searing feeling in the hopes that it helps direct me and my efforts on behalf of My Boys to help them reach the time-in criteria so when the time-passed moment comes, they are ready to jump that hurdle:  my heart aches when I see other children My Boys have grown up with writing their names, words or notes to the tooth fairy. The development of some random 6-year-old doesn’t bother me. And, writing single letters didn’t bother me. But the words and thoughts committed to paper (or computer screen) just makes my heart yearn for that skill to blossom in My Boys! 

Of all the delays we are experiencing, seeing the scribbled notes makes my heart ache. It doesn’t bother me that these other children can speak more clearly or use more words per sentence. It doesn’t matter that they run faster, win dance competitions or draw prettier pictures. (For the record, no one out-climbs My Guys.) It just seems that the concept of literacy — or God forbid, ILLiteracy — is the developmental thorn in my side. Reading and writing is so critical in life. These skills are the key to all independent learning as well as the conduit for formal education from 3rd grade on. So taking baby steps toward the development of these all-important skills, but not seeing significant progress toward mastery is painful… scary. I feel like the time-in and the time-passed biological clocks are ticking! They’re not and I know that intellectually. The time-in/time-passed paradigm is met when it’s met and not a moment before. The aptitude and magical moment need to come together in their own time. I KNOW — with great effort on their part and mine and a significantly increased focus by their educators… with time-in and time-passed — My Boys will achieve this reading and writing milestone…. eventually! As with everything else pertaining to development and Down syndrome, they will do it… IN… THEIR… OWN… TIME! I guess I need to work on accepting where they are developmentally today. 

It’s just that I am so infrequently envious of anything. But when I see the scribbled names and cute little notes written by their peers, I yearn to see letters and names and notes written by my own children.  

Do you have a developmental thorn in your side as the parent of a child with developmental delays? Does it give you heartache to want it and to have to wait for it?

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