Last week I posted about Stephen having finished his summer reading even though I was out of the country and not in regular communication with him. This was a huge break-through for us. But, lest I leave anyone with the wrong impression, the reading wasn’t all he needed to do and he started school not having completed the packet of German homework he had been assigned for summer work.
I guess I should be happy for the small victories, and I am, but I also wanted to make sure that I didn’t paint a picture here that left you thinking that all our problems were solved because I encouraged Stephen and expected him to “man up.” As we work through this process of helping Stephen get comfortable with who he is we are all learning. There are things Stephen can do well. There are other things that Stephen needs help with and may need help with his entire life. It is okay to need help—we all do sometimes. God created us to need each other.
In this particular case, with the German packet, Stephen needed me as his mom to say, ‘Stephen, I know you don’t feel like you remember very much of what you have learned over the last three years of taking German. And I know it is going to consume all the free time you have over the next few days, but you need to use google translator, your German dictionary, call someone, or do whatever it takes. This work is going to be completed and turned in to your teacher, even if it is a few days late. Even if she says she won’t accept it late.’
This all feels a lot like the conflict situations that I try to avoid like the plague, because I know that it will make him unhappy for a while. But, ultimately, he knows that it is the best thing because he will be prepared for his German class and will not begin the year with zeros (as his teacher will give him at least partial credit for the work he completes), so he doesn’t stay upset about it for long and quickly adjusts to the routine of using his time wisely.
Now we are 2 ½ days into school and he is almost finished with the work. I don’t know how many points will be deducted because of being late. Honestly, that is a battle I no longer fight. The work IS late and he DID have all summer to complete it. I could try to make an excuse for him about how busy we were because of all the traveling and the teacher might or might not accept it, but the truth is, at some point I have to stop making excuses for him and let him learn to live with the consequences of his own choices. That is one of the toughest lessons I have ever had to learn, especially when it comes to my son who has Asperger’s and struggles with anxiety. But what an important lesson it is.