“Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
It’s an approach I wholeheartedly embrace with my kids through daily life. If I micromanage every aspect of their lives, I may go crazy. Deep dives on every action I disapprove of, missed assignments, concerning observations or behavior choices is unhealthy. I find enough in life to fret over on a daily basis.
With raising kids, “don’t sweat the small stuff” is a mantra to live by for me. Mistakes and bad judgments will occur and not every single misstep or questionable choice needs to be a mountain when it’s just a molehill in the big picture. Perspective is needed, especially with Carson, 11.
Winning with Carson is him going to school every day without any trouble, getting through his school with as much success as possible, completing his twice-a-week speech therapy sessions satisfactorily, learning something new in a music lesson, sharing a few laughs and getting a full night sleep. Life is too complicated for a boy with Autism and his parents to not keep it simple. Maintaining a holistic approach works best with him and even his 13-year-old brother for that matter. To do otherwise would lead to unmanageable anxiety and stress. Embrace the small wins, dodge and learn from the losses and celebrate the great things. All the while not getting worked up over little things that help him success, though seem strange for neurotypicals.
Here are some examples of unique situations where certain aspects for Carson get overlooked because of his unique life circumstances.
•Carson has not worn socks or underwear in years. Both are uncomfortable and fighting every morning while getting dressed over these aspects became counterproductive. He doesn’t like how they feel and it a no-go.
We have exhausted all options on this front, trying different styles of underwear and socks to no avail. We have accepted it and moved on. Somehow, he doesn’t get blisters on his feet or ankles or get cold even on chilly mornings. One day it might change. It’s not going to be anytime soon though because he acts now as if the socks are full of needles.
•While Pam and Beckett ran it, Carson and I walked the three-mile Run Wild For Autism course on Assateague Island last weekend.
We held hands the entire course, and it was a hot day. On several occasions, I tried to encourage him to let go so we would not be sweating hand in hand. The vice grip was in place, however. Maybe it was the crowds around us or the uncertainty of what was ahead. Whatever the case, he needed to hold my hand and squeeze a little stuffed football with his other.
It was certainly not worth a fight. There are worst things than holding hands with your kid. If it gives him the reassurance he needs, then so be it, even if it did at times feel like was holding on to a frying pan.
I was just happy we didn’t have to bring a stuffed animal with us.
•On the stuffed animal front this week, Carson forgot one day this week his favorite friend who has been joining him in school each day for the first five weeks. This has happened a few things before and had to return home to grab it because he wouldn’t get out of the vehicle without it.
Reminding myself to not stress over the small stuff, we drove back home – fortunately just a mile away – and retrieved it. I was getting a little bothered by the whole thing because I was going to be late to an appointment, but I couldn’t let him know it. We still parked across from the school and made the long walk to school joking about this and that. I did jog back to the truck afterwards though to get where I needed to be.
For him, the good news he had his trusty stuffed animal and walked right into school with a smile on his face. For me, I was 15 minutes late and sweaty.
•Twice over the last week, we have been walking out the door for school at 7:25 and Carson has raced back inside. He had to use the bathroom, and this was not the quick type. This is when I pace around the house practicing my deep breaths. One morning Beckett was in the kitchen and asked what I was doing. He said, “oh never mind, you’re just trying not to lose it again.” Evidently I sometimes am not successful in not sweating the small stuff.
•One last dip for the pool was closed turned into a skinny dip session for Carson. I would normally care but after a challenging week I caved. It was private enough and he was excited. It wasn’t a battle to wage at that time. What was unfortunate is we had forgot to bring out even one towel. He just used my shirt and left me to dry on my own.
•Minutes before a virtual speech therapy session Wednesday, Carson would not put his shirt back on. I didn’t want to give in here, but I did eventually. He won.
Ms. Sommer said, “oh Dad is going to let you go shirtless today, okay by me.” I took that to mean Pam requires him to wear a shirt. When I said something later to Carson, he feigned ignorance and shrugged his shoulders, signing I was crazy for thinking anything of the sort.
For what it’s worth, he had a great speech session albeit shirtless.