The other day I overheard a mother explain to her son why he couldn't play dodge ball, do the obstacle course or try a high hoop. She told him it was because of his disorder. I know that response was half out of love and also half out of fear (because I've been there).
I know that feeling, yet my thought process went somewhere else. I believe she is unknowingly teaching him that his disorder is an excuse not to do something, that his disability defined him. It got me thinking, "What are my expectations for KC? What am I teaching him?"
I want him to grow into a great strong man of God, and not to use his disability to define him or use it as an excuse for the way he is. But is that what I am teaching him? Do the things I tell him show that? Is what I say about his disorder helping him reach these expectations?
If I am perfectly honest, I don't know. Though I hope I am.
I am a no excuses type of person and I have always hoped KC would be able to follow that example, yet as he gets older I don't always see that. What I do see in him is a very caring and loving teenager, who hates the fact that his anger disorder get the best of him and sometimes overtakes him.
I have heard him say a lot about his disorder, how it frustrates him and how he just can't help it. I know that KC has heard me say "He can't help it." to his father. And therefore he has used those words as an excuse when he becomes angry.
I know that as KC gets older he may or not meet any of the expectations that I have for him. But he will hopefully start getting a feel for his own expectations and what he wants out of life.
So I have to take a step back and ask myself the real question. "Am I teaching him to have big or small expectations in regards to his own abilities?"
How do I do that? By making sure that I am not saying negative things about his disorder to him or in front of him to others. That I am encouraging him to grow and overcome the different obstacles that come with this particular disorder. To let him see others that have overcome difficulties in their lives.
Please understand I am not saying that their safety is not important or a concern. My way of thinking is, "What can he do?" instead of " What can't he do?". How can I help him grow to not see his disabilities in a negative way, but to embrace and overcome the challenges that come with it.
Let me help you understand what I am saying by giving you an example. KC has already had one concussion so I wouldn't want him to play a sport like football. So if KC ever asked to play this sport I would explain it to him in this way.
"I am so glad you love the game of football and want to play. Let's look at the facts for a second. In football there is a huge risk for concussions and because of the fact that you have already had one it would not be a smart choice to put yourself in that position. So what's another sports you can do?"
KC did do a year of wrestling (which he ended up not liking) and that in itself was a challenge because of his disorder. However I made sure I didn't put that on the table and encouraged him to stick with it and overcome the issues that where at hand. And he learned that he could do it. He has also been on the swim team which he did love.
What I have learned so far is that I need to be showing KC what he is capable of. That his disabilities don't define who he is. That how he chooses to handle situations and that he can overcome most anything that he puts his mind to.
When we show our children that we believe that they can do anything no matter what obstacle stands in their way. That they can do great marvelous things no matter what disabilities they have.