I've made no secret about the fact that I have not learned the 'patience lesson' by having a child with a disability. I lose my patience. I get exasperated. I get frustrated. I get flustered. I hurry Kayla, and Lucas for that matter, along.
Doing any type of school work with Kayla is a lesson in not pulling out my hair. Truly, it is. Besides the cognitive impairments that go along with Down syndrome, I've mentioned that Kayla has also been diagnosed with ADHD.
Getting through what should be 20-30 min of school work/review can take up to an hour. It's constant redirection, fidgeting, losing focus, being distracted.
The other night we were working on a math sheet. All she had to do was fill in missing numbers. It really shouldn't take too long and didn't require a whole lot of mental concentration. But it seemed after every.single.number she would find something else to distract her instead of seamlessly moving on to the next number.
Looking out the window. Checking the lead on the tip of her pencil. Rubbing the eraser on the palm of her hand. Seeing what Lucas was doing. Asking me what we were doing later. Asking what we were doing the next day. Asking questions about anything to avoid doing the worksheet.
I remained calm. I tried to keep my voice even as I redirected her back to her worksheet. I didn't speak at her in a frustrated voice. I didn't raise my voice. I tried to not escalate the situation to where she would feed off my negative vibe and then stubbornly refuse to do any work.
I was exasperated by the amount of redirection and time it was taking, but I was not mad.
Finally, in an effort to wait her out, I merely put my arms on the table, sighed, and put my head down on my arms. I thought I would give myself a few minutes and give her a few minutes to decide she was ready to get down to business again.
Then I felt a hand very gently rest on my arm.
Then I heard a voice very softly say, "I still love you mom. I still love you."
After she has done something she wasn't supposed to, or hasn't done something she was supposed to do, and she knows I am mad about it - I always tell her some version of "I still love you. I was mad about this or that, or because you did this or that, but I still love you. I always love you, even when I'm upset."
I picked my head up, smiled at her, and told her that I still love her, too.
And maybe there is hope for me yet; maybe I am slowly but surely starting to learn this lesson on patience.