Back to school!
Life is heading back into the routine of school. This time of year is also tough for me, but for reasons I have never really articulated.
Summer is a struggle. My son’s only desire is to play video games. He has no desire for trips to State Parks, lakes, pools, or even cook-outs. If I am willing to let him stay home, he will choose that. If I am not willing to let him stay home his first question is, ‘Why!!?”
Of course, he really doesn’t care, “Why,” he just uses that as his jumping off point for arguing with me about whether or not he has to go. With the exception of the time he spends at his father’s house, it feels like the entire summer is a tug-of-war over video games and electronics. I limit the electronics but then I cannot trust him to be alone in the house because he will play the electronics longer than allowed. If I take him with me on errands, outings, etc. then odds are he will spend the time arguing with me about why he has to go or picking arguments over things like whether he “has to” grab the ketchup and put it in the grocery basket. I find myself wearing out. I want SO badly to let him play.
The Electronics War is so exhausting that I have seriously considered removing all access to any electronics in the home. This summer, we had no cable tv by choice. However, I relent because we have 5 other people in the home and it seems unfair to them. My mother suggested and I am going to try changing the password to the modem every day to eliminate unauthorized access to it.
School scales the Electronic War to an Electronic Conflict, simmering in the background of the new theatre of conflict, homework. The homework struggle is double sided.
It is a legitimate struggle for my son to track and remember assignments. Assignments take a lot of effort for him, even with accommodations. Daniel’s struggle pairs with the struggle I have getting the schools to keep up their end of the bargain and regularly check his agenda to make sure that at least work is being noted and brought home.
The flip side of this struggle is that Daniel has struggled so long with school work that he absolutely hates everything about school. He has not yet, and may never understand the bigger picture regarding school. He fails to see that learning to work through a day meeting expectations (absurd or otherwise) is an important life skill he will need to support himself in the future. He rarely seems to even try.
He has been given tools like agendas, lists, organization aids, extended time, reduced assignments, etc. His normal mode of operation is to resist using these tools he has been given. Even on a good day, when he tries, he has not found a way to make those tools his own and finds use of them awkward and uncomfortable.
I am working 30 hours a week outside the home and another 10 from home and I do not have the time to spend hours working with Daniel. I struggle with guilt. I wonder if I need to do more to make it work for my son. This juxtapose with my belief that he needs to be taking on the responsibilities of making it work for himself as the next step toward independence.
Daniel’s unwillingness to work with me and increasingly augmentative behavior is also a good sign. It is typical for 14 year-old boys to start ignoring their parents in favor of doing it their own way. Parents’ advice is often resisted or even the prompting for contrary behavior as teens test their own decision making skills and psychological independence. This typical milestone would be easier for me to come to terms with if I felt I could see Daniel really trying in some areas that would give him footholds in the outside world, ie: getting a job, school, making real-world friends, etc. As with many milestones in my Aspie’s life, I have the typical parental complaint with a twist.