School is out. It’s officially summer time. We are in that difficult, super-unstructured period between the end of the school year and the start of camp.
It can be trying. Ryan wants to spend most of his days away from us, alone in his room typing hockey standings. If we let him do it for too long, it invariably leads to outbursts of anger and frustration, so we have to impose strict limits. Challenging behaviors have been met with consequences such as no computer or Wii for the day.
I have been away for work, so Veronica has the kids with her at Aunt Mary’s house for a few days. Aunt Mary’s house is fun. There is a pool. For Riley, there is a dog to play with. There is always time for some street hockey in the driveway.
Veronica and Mary made several plans for the visit, including a trip to a water park. The hope was to avoid too much unstructured time at the house, where Ryan prefers to withdraw to his room and type on the computer.
Unfortunately, the weather and a wave of colds that swept through the family would not cooperate. There would be no water park visit this trip. Veronica was worried. Issues were compounded by the fact that she felt miserable and that Ryan had not slept one night due to his cold.
But before I had a chance to worry too much, the texts form Veronica started to arrive:
Btw, we all watched nat geo weird animals. Ryan LOVED it. New show!
It may not seem like much, but this is progress. Ryan typically will only like one show at a time. He will watch the same episodes over and over on the DVR, driving Riley nuts. Shows on his preferred list have included Spongebob, AFV and Wipeout. In order to get him to try any of those we had to force him to sit on the couch and watch with us. If he decided he liked a new show, that was it, all his old shows were instantly discarded. So the spontaneous adoption of a new show — especially one so different from the rest of the ones on his roster — is huge.
Ryan & I went 2 park & played basketball 4 an hour. Yes. BASKETBALL
Another little thing that’s not little at all in our world. Ryan’s interests are so limited, and so focused on hockey, that they often get in the way of him relating to other kids his age. When a new friend wanted to play football instead of hockey, he gave it a brief try before insisting they convert the game to “fockey,” or football crossed with hockey.
Been playing bball in pool. Going 2 arcade l8r.
The next thing to arrive was a picture of Ryan playing some sort of driving game at the arcade, the kind I have tired in vain to get him to play many times. Usually he insists on only playing air hockey. There was lots of air hockey at this arcade visit too, but as Veronica texted me later:
Nice 2 have Ryan do different things
It is nice. It’s wonderful. These new activities may or may not last. Once he’s back in the familiar environment of home, Ryan may opt to revert to only those things he typically does there. He has an amazing ability to compartmentalize experiences. It’s just another way he is able to impose some straight lines on the unstructured curves the world throws at him.
But even if that happens, these experiences will be added to the memory bank. They can be referenced later as we attempt to get him to branch out is interests and activities. There is value in that.
As Jess’s post today reminded me, the one thing we can’t impose on our kids is a timeline. We can nudge and prod and work to give them the tools to experience new things. But they, and only they, will determine when they are ready to do so.