My son is a lover of rules and rituals. I know most kids crave them, but my son not only thrives on them, he relies on them and if one thing is off, the whole day is off. Sometimes, I would fear he lived in the world of rules too much. Things that are new are almost always a frightening battle for him. I cannot fully explain just how LARGE of a battle even the slightest tiniest little change from routine could be. As someone who loves systems but also thrives on impulse and creativity, it's honestly been a challenge for me to try to explain how breaks from routine can be a good thing, how drawing outside of the lines can lead to masterpieces.

About a month ago, we were playing with a stacking puzzle he's had for a while now. Everytime, he has to recreate the puzzle exactly as it's seen in the picture on the box, because that's how all other puzzles are done, right? Well this one is created so you can stack the puzzle in many different ways - the possibilities are endless! So on this one day, I was shocked and pleased to hear my son utter the words "mom, I don't need to make the puzzle look like the picture. I can stack them any way I want!" Oh the joy! Those are the exact words I have been saying to him since he got the puzzle! I watched as he excitedly created not one but three different stacks, moving the animal pieces here and there, trying different combinations. He seemed so liberated, so free, so happy, so... confident.

And that's when it hit me: we have the most ability to tap into our creativity when we are confident, when we feel empowered to draw outside of that line. I've been fortunate to be one of 10 Faculty Moms working with Pepperidge Farm's Fishful Thinking program, and one of the five key ingredients the research shows most positive, optimistic kids possess is empowerment: believing that they CAN. That's exactly what I saw when he did that puzzle that day: he was empowered to do his own thing.

Over the past year, my son's confidence has slowly been building. Being a big brother has helped give him that: he's good at it, really great at it actually. Big Brother is the role my son has always been meant to play, and he thrives in that role. As his mom, watching his confidence grow has been so incredible! But that day, that moment when the light bulb went off and he realized that hey, he really can stack the puzzle any way he wanted... well, it was one of those magical moments that mamas remember forever.


Brenna said...

What a great post. I wish I had more time to devote to the Fishful Thinking program. My 3 year old sounds very similar to yours and really my 5 year old too. I would love to hear those words coming out of my 3 year old's mouth! He is going through a rough patch...

Stumble It!
Gina said...

I love those special moments! We have a son with a few different sensory and motor challenges, so what might appear as something trivial or small to other parents can bring me to tears! He has a really hard time with balance - always has. We've been working hard on this for about 6 months - balance beams, balls, boards...you name it. Last week we were doing some pre-bedtime yoga and he surprised me by holding tree pose for about a minute! I was so emotional - probably scared him the way I grabbed up, teared up & held him tight.

We will cherish these special little moments forever (at least I hope so!).

Thanks for sharing your story.

Stumble It!
marlynn said...

thanks, Brenna & Gina. :)

Brenna, I really did not expect to hear my son say those words - your 3 year old will probably say them when you least expect it! Making it all the more sweeter :) re: Fishful Thinking, have you tried any of the activities on the website? most are geared for older kids, but I've modified some of them to suit my 2 year old and even she gets into them.

Gina, thank you so much for sharing your story of your son. I love that other moms "get" these little victories, these little special moments that may seem to little to others but are so significant to us after months or sometimes years of working with our kids. Sounds like you have been doing SO much working with your son and it warms my heart to hear his (and your!) special moment! and the tree pose is a hard one for adults even, so that's fantastic!

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