Saturday, October 27, 2007

For most of my parenting life I have had this magnet on my refrigerator door. It came to me in the mail, at a time when I truly needed encouragement. Ian, who had been walking and talking since he was nine months old and aggravating adults for even longer, had been asked to leave another daycare center. Well, techinically, they didn't ask him to leave... they asked me not to bring him back. Faced with the prospect of interviewing, and being interviewed, interrogated, and rejected by childcare providers, AGAIN, we decided it was time to just stop trying. After all, this was our child and who could better care for him than his own mother. Who indeed? After six months at home with him I was painfully aware of my limitations. Desperate to avoid turning into the world's most negative mother I turned to my silly refrigerator magnet. Everyday I would pick a phrase and find a reason to say it to Ian.

When we have difficult children we often find ourselves grasping at straws, looking for any way to gain a handle on the situation. I don't think the platitudes really made any difference to Ian but it helped me focus. Having that very basic reminder to praise my child's positive qualities challenged me to keep looking for those qualities. At times it would have been easier to just believe he was bad, rather than curious, strong-willed, frighteningly intelligent, and charismatic. As an adult those qualities could be the very things that will save him from himself. If he would only believe that he is worth saving. You're incredible Ian. I love you.

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