I met my ex-husband in the parking lot of a local McDonald’s last night to exchange the boys. It has been almost a year since the boys have seen their dad. I briefly introduced myself to his new wife and stepson as they sat in the packed car they had driven out from Texas. The exchange was, as it always is, bittersweet. I will miss the boys but am glad to have a several days of time away from them. I am also glad for them because I know that seeing their dad means a lot to them.
My ex and I have very different parenting styles. That is one of the reasons we are no longer married. I am a firm believer that parenting should be a preparation of my child for the adult world. This often means hard choices and looking like the bad guy to my child. This principle is exemplified in my life by the video game situation.
Daniel loves video games. Video games do not do anything good for him. They encourage impluse responses. As a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, this is the antithesis of what he needs. He needs to practice waiting and considering before he responds. Every time I allow video games, Daniel regresses in cognitive development as well as impulse control. Daniel knows the logic behind this decision and on a good day will agree that it is a good idea. However he often expresses frustration, anger, and even hatred toward me for this decision.
It is my responsibility to prepare him to take care of himself. This includes being self-aware and having enough care for himself to do what is best for himself, even if it is difficult. If my child was diabetic, the fact that he loved cookies would not be reason to let him have them every day. I would need to teach him to eat healthy for the limitation he has in his body. Why would it be any different for cognitive limitations in my AS child?
Daniel’s father does not agree. He professes to understand and agree with the logic but when it comes to the actions of implementing this idea, he does not have the courage. How infrequently he sees the boys only makes it harder. It has to be impossibly hard to take unpopular stands during the scarce time he spends with them. He also doesn’t have to live with and observe the daily consequences of not taking this stand.
So the boys are on vacation. They are going to Disney World in Orlando. Hopefully they will be busy enough with amusement parks and other activities that there won’t be much time for video games. Regardless of what activities Daniel is involved in, I know we can handle getting back into the routine when he gets home on Christmas Eve. We have another week to normalize before school starts again.
In the meantime, I choose to enjoy the time with the girls and my husband and to sincerely hope the boys have a blast.