So Moms and Dads, be honest … how many of you all did not realize that your child is really a “blank slate?” I mean, literally, you have to teach them step by step with plenty of patience. So my journey thus far as a mom, along with my fiancé, has been quite the adventure when it comes to teaching our cute little 7 year old son how to do things!
Just so you know, my son who thinks he knows more than me, challenges me on basic life skills. And I mean literally everything. In my mind, I’m thinking “Son, really? You cannot button your own shirt?!” Now mind you, I know he has some fine motor skills delay BUT according to him, he can do everything, even when he does it completely wrong. Lately, we have been struggling with simply putting on his school shirt and buttoning the top button of his shirts. Well, of course, the struggle is real! I promise you, it is taking my genius (as he would say about himself) way longer than expected to button his (excuse my language) freaking shirt. Now I have shown him over and over how to button his shirt, but I strongly believe he is not hearing me. The connection is lost.
One morning as we were getting ready for school, I realized he had mastered putting his shirt on the right way. This was because usually the shirt is on backwards and the collar is popped around his neck covering his chin and lips. This always make me laugh but I know I have to find a way to better educate my child! However, it is time to move on from the shirt and get to buckling and putting on a belt. As you may have guessed, I am so not up for this task and I am dreading it. I do not want to hear “Mom, I got it” or “let me do it” and “see, I told you I could do it.” And then it would still be completely wrong. If the pants are zipped correctly, trust me, the top button is not fastening. Or better yet, the belt is not in all the loops and the tail end of the belt is just hanging for dear life. My patience is not up for the challenge, but my child learning how to button and fastening his own belt has to be done.
In my defense, I am guilty of assuming my child would already know the many things that we as parents take for granted, such as putting your underwear on the right side or even putting your socks on accurately. Unfortunately, that just didn’t happen for me. As time went on, my desperation was getting the best of me. I had to find a way to teach my son how to learn to take care of himself according to his age. As a mother, I am so hands on and tend to jump in and do many things for my sweet baby boy, but I’ve realized I am hindering him from learning to do it for himself.
I often wonder what would happen if I were not there to make sure his pants were buttoned or his shirt is on right. Now I no longer have to wonder any more. Summer camp answered this for me … it was a nightmare. I often chuckled when I picked him up. Shoes on the wrong feet, shorts on backwards and what was what was funnier was that he did not even care. As long as he was dressed. I would ask him if he looked at himself in the mirror after he got dressed from swimming, and of course, his smoothed response would be, “I’m fine, I got this.” I would tell him “No son you don’t. You have to take your time, pay attention.”
I had to find a connection that would work for the both of us! To my surprise, I discovered YOU TUBE!! Oh my, what a relief! I see him zooming through different websites and downloading games like no other. I didn’t even know he knew how to spell Rotobolox (whatever that is). But now, any task I need assistance with, I simply type in “How to” in the search box on YouTube and BOOM! A learning video for kids always shows up. Now I am not one to brag, but let’s just say we are on our road to recovery with learning life skills the right way. Now tying shoes is a different story but so far, YouTube is saving our sanity and has helped with teaching our son how to do certain things with a visual aid that he can relate to. These videos are our reinforcement.
As the old saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, well currently, the learning videos on YouTube have become our saving grace and village!
Renee T Ridgley is currently a Master Level Social Worker and works as the Education Coordinator for the Parenting Center of St. Tammany Parish Hospital. Her son Kendrick is 7!