You know what I am referring to – everyone who says “Follow your gut” or “I just had a feeling”. Right?
There is something innate about being a mom, about having a child you are connected to in a way that allows you to know when something isn’t right or when your child needs you. It is why I would leak breast milk every time Nick cried. Even when I wasn’t there. I just knew.
Or how I could feel from the time Matt was just months old that there was something...different...about him. And LONG before I ever breathed the word "Autism" to anyone - even about Gabriel - I knew Matt had Aspergers. I just knew it.
And I hear the same thing from moms and dads everywhere I go. Perhaps they are told to ignore their intuition - because the doctor thinks they are just 'new mothers' or their child is 'just spirited', but we as parents know. We just know.
But what about for our kids? Do we encourage them to trust their intuition? Their ‘little voice’ inside telling them what is a good idea and what isn’t?
Often times the answer is a resounding NO.
When I first took Nick to preschool at age 3, he was (and is) nuerotypical, precocious, and way ahead of the game socially and academically.
I signed him up for the local private preschool, the one with the new building and the fancy furniture. Spanish classes and music, field trips and real certified teachers.
And he hated it.
One day he had an incident – no one could say what it was – only that he didn’t like taking the elevator downstairs (see, I told you it was fancy).
And he didn’t want to go any more.
He would cry and complain that he didn’t like his teacher. She made him feel uncomfortable.
And I refused to leave him like that.
So, I called the director and explained that my three year old wasn’t comfortable with that teacher.
I thought for sure she would tell me to leave him – let him cry it out.
But she didn’t.
She was onboard with me HONORING my son’s intuition.
Nick intuitively wasn’t comfortable. And by not forcing him, it allowed me to teach him that that LITTLE VOICE in the back of his head was trying to keep him safe. It was telling him what the right thing for him was. Not what mom wanted. Not what any 'professional' said. But what was right for him.
And I want him to listen to that voice – always.
Because that sound will get drowned out by other voices someday – voices that say “Come on, we’re all doing it” or “No one will know, just do it!”
He needs to know that his intuition is what guides him.
So to honor his 3-year-old-intuition, we made the change to another teacher and moved to a class that was in the morning instead of the afternoon – a complete 180. And you know what? Nick loved it. Loved the new teacher. Loved school.
When it came time to bring Matthew to preschool, we had a similar challenge.
Matt qualified for developmental preschool right at the time he turned 4. Because he was a late potty-trainer (3 years 8 months) we didn't even attempt preschool the year before.
And when I took Matt to school, he wanted me to stay. He wanted me to go in. He didn’t want me to leave. He was uncomfortable in these new surroundings.
And I refused to leave him there crying.
Because it seemed very straight forward that my son was uncomfortable because he didn’t know these people. He had never met them. He had never been to this building. Heck, I had the same feelings initially too!
Since I wouldn’t leave him there crying, or allow him to be drug into school, on the third day of preschool (give or take) I was met at drop off by the teacher, the school psychologist and the principal.
Hmmm. That’s not good.
The psychologist was the first to speak,
“Matthew will be fine once you leave. We can handle him.”
“Thanks…” I look at her name tag, “…Laura, for sharing that with me.”
And I stopped talking.
You see, Matthew hadn’t ever met these people before, and if his little voice inside said, “Hey, wait, this doesn’t feel right for me to be left with strangers that drag me somewhere screaming.” I was OK with that. Actually, I am thrilled with that.
You see, he is right: I don’t leave him with strangers.
So it is logical that he would find my desire to leave him somewhere new with strangers a bit…odd.
I calmly told the three ladies that I had successfully got my two older boys into school, without having to leave them screaming, including my oldest who has MANY MORE challenges than Matthew, and given this isn’t my first rodeo, I am certain that I can accomplish the same thing with Matthew. Sans tears.
They left me alone.
And I know you are going to be shocked by this, so you might want to sit down, but Matthew attends school every day now without tears.
Listening to your inner voice, following your instincts or intuition, and trusting your gut are things that we as moms struggle with because we weren’t taught that it is a GOOD IDEA to do some from an early age.
And I think we should've. So, I am doing so with my sons.
You never know, my boys may someday be special needs parents too. (That whole genetic thing and all.)
And I want them to know now – that trusting their intuition is a powerful and positive thing to do.
For all of us.