I call this acceptance. Or adapting. Or both. And it is not a bad thing.
However there are times when we should not accept or adapt. There are times when we should question and push for alternatives. And sometimes, indeed we should both accept and push -unintuitive as that may seem.
Now, I have written on adapting before: Below is an excerpt from this piece:
That was the keenly insightful, unoriginal and totally obvious thought I was going to use to open this post. Like many unoriginal thoughts, it happens to be true. The adaptability of people is how we survived famines, floods, Ice ages and God-knows-what else to become the dominant force on this poor little struggling planet we call home. Mostly, adaptability is good. It allows us to adjust to the changes life throws at us: The car broke down? I'll take a train, I lost my job? I'll change careers. People can deal with amazing life changes: My right hand doesn't work so well? I'll use my left hand...
That's where adaptability is bad. Because just because one can adapt, doesn't mean one always should.
When one is unwell, slipping into a state of permanent unwellness is an easy trap to fall into. Because let's face it: most of your friends and family fuck off and abandon you. They do. They either drop you immediately like a scalding poo or they slowly slip away. You spend a lot of time on the internet, connecting with other unwell people. New symptoms are easy to write off as part of the original problem. You continue to just use your left hand instead of yelling at the doctor that this right hand thing is unacfuckinceptable and he needs to find out what the problem is and fix it.
Now some people are probably confused at this point, because it is hard to understand what I mean, especially if you haven't lived it. I mean that reality can become skewed. "Normal " can change. That's what adaptability is all about -if you ask me. Creating a new “normal”. Two years ago, it was normal for me to follow a breakneck schedule: I rose at 5am, I was on the train at 6:07. I was at my desk at a Wall St institution eating breakfast shortly after 7. After work, I came home, picked up the kids, cooked two dinners (one for the kidlets, one for the adults). Then I did kid baths and bedtime, worked, maybe had a little metime at the telly or on the computer and tried to be in bed by midnight.
Yep. 5 hours sleep a night (if I was lucky). No wonder I got sick.
Now I sleep 8 or nine hours a night and I still have to nap most days. If I have a “good” day and overdo things. I am a mess for several days afterwards.
For awhile I was accepting this 'new' normal. I had
blackly hilarious stories about ER visits and hospitalizations. I
expected to have fits and seizures. I was starting to think that they
were part of my new life. I adapted. I was even starting to…
Then my good friend, Wynda -one of the few "normal" friends I have left (as normal as my friends ever got, anyway), interrupted me mid-blackly-hilarious-story and said in that gentle way she has: '"Sweetie. This is not OK"
She was right. She is right.
But I don't want this to be another post about adapting, because I think most of us (not me, apparently) instinctively know for ourselves when to adapt and when to fight.
But what about for other people? If you are a carer, when do you allow your charge to adapt and when do you push them?
I have two special needs kids. One of the biggest challenges I face as their mom is knowing when to accept their limitations and when to push them. My philosophy (now) is to push first, and pull back if it seems too much.
When Joe was six he was in an after school daycare program and then a summer program (in the same place) with all typical kids. He was used to the very supportive and loving Special Ed environment and he HATED this place! He was teased and picked on by the regular kids there. But MAN, How he progressed in those months!
It so happened he has the same teacher for first and second grade. I well remember that fall parent / teacher conference at the beginning of second grade. The teacher just looked at me and said "What did you DO?" He then went on to explain that Joe had left school in June reading very simple books and now he was reading chapter books. And not just the reading. The teacher mentioned that Joe had progressed hugely across the board, including his behavior and classroom functioning, Again he asked "What did you DO?".
Well, I sent him to a camp he hated. The kids picked on him. The teased him that he was six years old and couldn't tie his shoes. So he learned to tie his shoes in a couple of weeks, when his OT and I had been trying to teach him for years. He was teased about his slowness, so instead of playing tag, he read. His reading went up at least a grade level in a few months. He cried and begged for me not to send him each morning, but I was working and there were no other suitable placements available for him, so I sent him. And he progressed. He hated it. But he progressed.
And I saw the progression, so I left him there, even when another option became available. I hated to do it, but I saw the progression and I decided it was in his best long-term interests to keep it going.
I did take him out in the end, just so's you know. After the summer, I changed him to a different after school program. He was much happier there, but didn't progress in the same way. I figured I had milked that particular spurt potential for all it was worth, anyway.
That is often the line we walk as special needs parents: When to push your kid and make him miserable (but learning) and when to "accept" his limitations and not push? Because although some kids will push themselves, many will not. Many are happy in their comfort zone, thank you very much.
It is usually up to Mom to make them a new comfort zone in a different, higher functioning place. Getting from one to the other is the difficult part.
Will Joe remember his summer camp experience when he is grown? I suspect he will. Will he gain perspective and thank me for it? I don't know.
But his teacher thanked me. And I thanked myself.