“You will never get pity in this house…”

So, these were the words that sparked a longer spewing from Mama today…

BigGuy has, in the last year or so, lamented that nobody in the house pitied him.  I definitely took pause at this when he started saying it and he was right: we didn’t comfort him in his upset as quickly as we were willing to comfort Girly. When I realized this, I was briefly overwhelmed with shame over it. I sat and analyzed why that was–why did we treat him differently??

Ultimately I concluded that it was several things that included a long history of developmental therapies where we had to force him to power through difficult sessions rather than scoop him up and coddle him. It. Was. Hard. He is where he is today for it, but it was against my core as a mother. I just loved my BigGuy.

The other part is that he is ALWAYS upset about something. BigGuy seems to have one mode and it is “glass half empty” and “the world is against me”. That mentality makes me ABSOLUTELY insane. I have no idea what to do with that so I just reacted to him instead of responding to him. Not good.
Still, I come from a pick-up-your-bootstraps family and I would like to instill that in my kids where it’s appropriate. Depression problems are not the place for that but most of life’s challenges are.

So today when my son tearfully lamented the lack of pity bestowed on him, I managed to collect myself and tell my son that he was right.

And that I would never pity him.

I explained to him that he would get empathy from me. I would try to understand and honor his feelings; but it would be followed by trying to help him.  I would never pity him because that’s not helping him. As long as I can comfort him and understand his feelings, I didn’t understand the problem.  Empathy meant that we would lay off of scolding him because we understood his feelings and his challenges–but it wasn’t giving up on him. It wasn’t feeling bad for him, giving a snuggle and moving on.

As I see it, pity is usually a passive sentiment: you feel badly for someone’s misfortune and maybe you do something to help–something small–but it’s not the kind of help that we offer our son by understanding instead of just seeing his upset and comforting him. We work to understand his feelings and the problems and then we move forward trying to find the resources and methods to support him and address the root cause.

BigGuy was shockingly engaged in listening to all of this.  He wasn’t upset that I was talking instead of snuggling him. He wasn’t getting frustrated that he wasn’t “being heard”.  He was vested in listening and it ended very strangely.

It ended with my son responding in a very mature way. With an obvious understanding.

Joke’s on me: nature showed me my kid as a mature young man. #uglycry


How we’re handling “the elf” this year… (days 1 & 2)

Well, we managed to successfully migrate off of the “Elf as Santa’s spy” thing a few years ago but then we were at a bit of a loss for what the Elf, Simon’s, purpose was.  In the last few years, we’ve come up with some good ideas and I like this year’s the best…

Continue reading How we’re handling “the elf” this year… (days 1 & 2)


How do you honor your children?

“Honoring your children” is a phrase you will hear a LOT in the homeschool community–but especially the unschooling community.  I’ve come to see how this phrase is very subjective–with an incredibly broad spectrum of meanings.

Let me tell you what it does (and does not) mean for my family… Continue reading How do you honor your children?


Homeschooling children in the autism spectrum and socialization

The Old Schoolhouse was seeking some articles about homeschooling and special needs.  I was fortunate enough to be chosen to write about a subject near and dear to my heart:  how homeschooling children in the autism spectrum can provide wonderful and intensive opportunities for socialization.

This is counter to what many educators will tell parents.  Often, we are told that these children MUST be in school for socialization purposes.  I was told this.  I was told this at least 3 years into intensive therapeutic interventions for my son in the autism spectrum and having a Master’s degree in teaching that included additional graduate level credits in special education and specifically in teaching children with autism.

But I was told that I didn’t know what was best for my son–and that I would be crippling him for life by keeping him home.  In fact, he’s come farther than they anticipated was possible and note that his recent evaluator (who can spot a spectrum child in 2 minutes) was unable to peg his spectrum diagnosis until she was more involved in his testing–where it was unquestionable. She sees kids like mine daily and is involved in many research studies. It comes with new challenges but even she conceded that some of his surprising areas of functionality were undoubtedly the result of the “intensive” or frequency of training he gets at home.

Certainly your family situation, your child’s severity of impairment and your access to services are HUGE factors in this decision.  But for those who have figured out the rest and the final sticking point is socialization… or if socialization has prevented you from even trying to figure out the rest–I invite you to visit my article on this issue at The Old Schoolhouse and let me know what you think.  

Does this raise new thoughts for you?  Concerns?  Challenges?  Awakenings? Opportunities?
Much love to you,

Mama signature orange JPG

Kids jumping in lake Michigan

Focus on forgotten fundamentals: exposure and experiences

So often I find myself wondering what to do and how to facilitate learning at the direction of my children and in the last year, I have struggled most with Girly.

And it’s kind of stupid because for one, she TOLD me what she wants. All I needed to do was follow. I didn’t. So that was the first mistake to correct. Continue reading Focus on forgotten fundamentals: exposure and experiences