Even though we have approached the 8th year post, his speech has improved more within the past two years. In our home, there is a significant increase in eye-rolling. Ayal feels it is very important for the children help around the house and their contribution to household chores is necessary. Our clean laundry piles up to the height of Mount Washington on our couch. "Help me", "Me, one hand", "Me work, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, so tired, so important", "So important family". The kids get it, they are just not interested in participating. He still struggles with all of our family and friends names, especially when addressing our children. Meira is Eliana, Eliana is Meira. Sometimes he gets it right, but most often not.
Setting boundaries and rules is also complicated. I have become the 'good guy' and he is more strict. I attribute this to his vocal intensity which evidently is more powerful than mine. The kids listen to that as they try to avoid confrontation with him. It is challenging for him to coherently explain the ramifications of their actions if they choose not to abide by our rules. It is necessary for me to intervene in these discussions/arguments to 'translate' his intent, even if I don't agree. There are occasions when I don't understand what he is struggling to convey and this makes for an interesting dynamic duo of The guessing game and Parenting.
Years ago, I anticipated that by the time our children were teenagers they would be respectful, patient, and helpful. This pipe dream has not yet materialized. I often find myself defending and explaining his challenges more than I expected. "Imagine if you couldn't talk", "You see how hard it is", "He needs help with just the use of one hand, could you do that with one hand?". I admire his persistence in trying to express himself to them even when he knows they don't have the patience to listen.
This brings me to the concept of patience. It skates on thin ice and beckons when they are at their most irritable and weary state. How do we teach our children patience? I find myself asking that question daily. Ultimately, I know that teaching patience largely depends on how we model appropriate behavior as parents, which means - I need to do this better.
At the end of the day, we know we have good kids with big hearts. They do carry a lot on their shoulders especially when they compare their father to their friend's fathers. Even though they strut around the house with a look on their face that reads, "I'm annoyed, don't bother me", Ayal I and know that deep down they do care and they do want to help. We simply need to remind ourselves that they are also trying to figure out their place in this world.
Despite my pointless banter and criticism of teenagers, this anonymous Australian teenager very eloquently stated the following:
"Don't dwell on the past or the grief you hold within. Push through the tears and love the moment because this is something that will make you stronger in the future."