“She’s so polite!”
“What a sweetheart!”
“That was so nice of her…”
And the list goes on and on. Think of a superlative, and Amber and I have probably heard it about Kaitlyn. All over stuff that we don’t even give a second thought to.
It really is appreciated each and every time someone complements Kaitlyn on her manners. We have worked really hard with her from almost day one to instill acting at least somewhat proper around people; we’ve had her saying “please” and “thank you” from the time she could talk. And we didn’t just have her blindly saying those things. We taught her what they meant, and the power that those words can have.
Think about it. How many times have you been out somewhere and noticed that using just the slightest hint of manners has opened doors for you that were closed for others? That’s the power of manners, and that is why we have taught Kaitlyn to be respectful and have good manners when we are around other people (we would love for her to do that constantly, but you pick your battles).
Amber and I rarely worry how Kaitlyn will behave when we are out. We know that she will be respectful of all of the adults present, and she will be kind to any kids around. It also never gets old for us to hear her be complimented for having good manners, too.
Of course, we have also extended our expectations to anytime she gets any sort of gift. Without fail, and sometimes with some complaining (she is 8 after all), Kaitlyn will make a “thank you” card or phone call. Because that is important.
Kaitlyn will always have her struggles when it comes to social interactions and situations, and that is an undeniable fact. What Amber and I hope we are doing and have started on, is helping her with a basic skill of being in a social setting. It’s work, and it takes a daily effort, but it is worth it.
Thank you for reading and continuing to do so. I enjoy sharing glimpses into our lives and the good and the not-so-good (mostly good) that comes from raising a child with Asperger’s.
After our most recent trip to Disney, all she raved about was riding Space Mountain and the Seven Dwarves Mine Train because they are up-tempo rides that whip you around corners. In fact, anytime we bring up going to an amusement park, she scouts out the roller coasters first to see which ones she wants to ride (all of them) and in what order; she gets disappointed anytime she finds out she does not meet the height requirements, too (which is one of the reasons she has no desire to visit Universal Studios).
We have some decent-sized hills around us, at least by North Florida standards, and Kaitlyn loves to ride on them. She constantly asks Amber and I to ride up to different streets by us, knowing that the hard work of pedaling up a hill is rewarded by a speedy trip back down.
Thus far, Kaitlyn has remained upright on her rides down the hills by our house. But she had herself a close call yesterday. Amber took her for a bike ride before I got home, and apparently Kaitlyn had some trouble listening to instructions. We always ride within earshot of her going down the hills, and yesterday was no different; Amber was riding close to her, reminding her to pump the breaks on the way down. We tell her that because if she had her way, it would be a all-out ride down, and there is no telling how she would handle that. Mostly, we don’t want a simple ride around the neighborhood ending with a trip to the ER. Kaitlyn even admitted to me that she almost ended up in a ditch on their ride yesterday, which is the exact reason why we remind her to pump the brakes and be careful.
There is no taming Kaitlyn’s need for speed, but Amber and I do our best to ensure that she is being as safe as possible. If the weather holds up this weekend, I plan on riding one neighborhood over to test out some of the hills over there. I hope they have soft grass, just in case.
Amber and I try our best to not equate songs to ourselves or our lives, but sometimes you hear a lyric and it strikes a chord (no pun intended) and you can’t help but think of the same person every time you hear that song. Recently, that has come in the form of lyrics in the song “Wild Child” by Kenny Chesney (Kaitlyn will be quick to point out that it is not a “new” song for him).
“Looks like royal in a thrift store dress
Keeps my heart and her hair a mess
She goes where the wind suggests she goes, who knows
Got a spirit that can’t be tamed”
from “Wild Child” by Kenny Chesney
One of the things that Amber and I love most about Kaitlyn is that she is a completely free spirit. We are convinced that she didn’t get that from us (although we are a wacky pair for sure); no, her free spirit way was established and expertly cultivated by her “big sister” Jen. Once that seed was planted, it was just a matter of time before it grew, and grow it has.
When we take her clothes shopping, Kaitlyn picks out some of the neatest stuff; it is far from mainstream, and we can pretty much identify what she will want from the second we walk into a store. Pretty much anything that screams “hippie!” will catch her eye, and Amber and I love that about her. If we would let her, and if we could afford it, Kaitlyn would fill her closet with clothes like the ones in the picture on the right. That is just her style, and that she shares the same style as the wife of Florida Georgia Line singer Brian Kelley is coincidental.
It is going to be a blast for Amber and I to see where the wind takes Kaitlyn in the future. The sky truly is the limit for her, and we won’t do a thing to stand in her way or try to tame her at all.
The other night, I was sitting in the living room relaxing, when Kaitlyn came running into the room after her bath. She had the absolute biggest smile on her face, and I soon found out why.
She proudly came up to me, and told me about something that happened to her is school that day. For her to be smiling so wide and proud of herself, I knew that it had to be something big. And it was.
During P.E. that day, they were playing kickball, and Kaitlyn went and kicked herself a home run! I know that might not seem like a huge deal, but for Kaitlyn it was, and I was happy to share her joy over it, too.
I wish I would have captured the look on her face and the pride and joy she had in herself over her accomplishment. While it is certainly something that will forever be burned into my memory, I would have loved to been able to share it with the world.
Amber and I celebrate every one of Kaitlyn’s successes, and we do our best to build on her failures when they come up. We do that so we can continue to build a foundation of self-worth in her because we know that is probably where she has the most difficulty; while she has the biggest heart for others, she is not always the most confident in herself. Successes, no matter how small, only serve to reinforce to her that she is an amazing person.
Kaitlyn is absolutely excited to go to school on Wednesdays this nine weeks. Or at least that is what she told me this morning. When I asked her why, he answer was simple: “It’s STEM Wednesday, dad!” Well, ok then.
Kaitlyn has always gravitated toward math and science, and that is something that Amber and I have encouraged her to do and supported her on. There is just something about using her analytic mind and figuring out how to solve problems on a scientific level that has always appealed to her (don’t ask her to do any “common sense” problem solving. She is not wired to excel at those kinds of problems and deems them to be inconsequential to her daily life.).
A few weeks back, Kaitlyn went out back and started collecting rocks, twigs, and grass to take to school in a large freezer bag. She told us that she needed it for her gifted science class. Fine by us, less for to clean up. About a week later, we got an email from the teacher with pictures attached; the class was split into pairs and tasked with building a bird nest out of the materials they all brought in. There was really no “set” way that they were supposed to do it, just work together to build it. Kaitlyn really enjoyed doing that project.
Their second STEM project was to build a cup pyramid using rubber bands (and cups, of course!), and Kaitlyn got a kick out of that, too.
Which all leads to today. Kaitlyn just couldn’t wait to see what today’s STEM project was going to be. She seems to love the challenge of what they are assigned to do, and loves the process of completing the assignment.
It’s great that the school is exposing the kids to STEM activities at such an early age. Challenging them, especially kids like Kaitlyn, is important. It helps to keep them motivated and interested in going to school everyday. From our perspective, emphasizing areas where Kaitlyn already excels only serves to enhance what we are building with her and encouraging her to do.
I can already see that this summer will probably be one where Kaitlyn and I work on several projects that are STEM-related. I can’t wait, either.