Being a naturally anxious person I’ve a tendency to fixate on things … I could easily become obsessed with completing the Love Dare each day and I’m making a conscious effort not to do that, I want to take my time and do it properly rather than rush through and miss out on learning more. Therefore, the guilty feeling that I’ve not been reading and “daring” for the past few days is being squashed down and (nearly) shoved behind me.
Recent days have been busy … I’m not alone in that. December is a busy month for most people … shopping to be done, parties to go to, shopping to be done, nativities to watch, carol services to go to, shopping to be done, presents to wrap, shopping to be done, cards to write, food to eat and, of course, shopping to be done! Sometimes it’s hard to keep focus on what Christmas is all about.
Yesterday was lovely … it turned into a shopping relay … I spent the morning in Glasgow with my mother, sent her on her way on the train just before lunch then waited for my dad (lovingly known by me as “The Old Boy”) to get off another train so he & I could do the whole thing again! It’s fair to say that Mum & I were much more successful shoppers than Dad & I who spent more on tea breaks than anything else!
Yesterday was, also, yet another day when the overwhelming responsibility of being a parent and the sheer physical exhaustion of being “the adult” felt like it was too much for me. It was a day when I looked at the Love Dare and thought, “Nope, I’m not cut out for this”. Then I realised (when I felt calmer) that it’s exactly for people like me … people like most of us who, as parents, are all too aware of the ways in which we fail and just want to do whatever we can to do the best job possible. Everything that could go wrong in my parenting did go wrong yesterday morning … the end result was lots of apologies, cuddles and tears! But I felt just like this:
So, it was somewhat ironic that today’s reading is about manners! It’s hardly very mannerly for a mother to freak out because her children have put their jumpers on back to front (two of them … v-necks no less … and we were running late … and it was at the end of a long line of events … that’s my excuse anyway!).
As parents we are an example to our children, they watch, listen and learn … quite scary isn’t it? I try to be a good example but then the crazy inside me comes out and all the good work is shot down in flames! It has been helpful having a reminder that the responsibility for the manners of the Junior GGs lies firmly with Mr GG & I as parents … all manners, from table manners, to how we interact with people, to learning what is appropriate or inappropriate.
Living with autism brings its own challenges when it comes to manners. Things that many of us treat as second nature take a lot more effort. One of the Junior GGs struggles with fine motor skills so eating with a knife and fork is something that he really struggles with and, if he thinks he can get away with it, cutlery is discarded and fingers it is! Another Junior GG struggles with talking to people and tends to face a wall to talk rather than look at someone (especially someone he doesn’t know well) … this is often perceived as rude and whilst Mr GG & I understand that he can’t help this we’re trying to teach him ways of coping with facing people as he talks with them (even if he doesn’t look at them directly, to be facing them is a huge step).
Unfortunately today’s dare is one that I just don’t get … holding a “manners night”. I don’t really get this … I can’t teach my children manners just by sitting talking to them. Of course Mr GG & I talk to the boys about manners but we do it as occasions arise and all three boys behave impeccably at times. However, I honestly think if I said to them “Right, we’re going to have a manners night this evening” they would fall about laughing, then eagerly give examples of what they shouldn’t be doing … I’ve no doubt it would soon descend into a frenzy of burping and, well, …