Don’t Push – Pull.

April 17, 2011

Have you ever pushed on a door that was meant to be pulled open?  It looks fairly comical (and can be quite embarassing). 

I was struck today that, as parents,’pushing’ seems an inevitable action with our children.  Like mother birds at the nest, we must eventually push our little birds out into the free world.  I remember dropping Tessa off in the nursery for the first time.  I set her over the nursery gate and gave her little bottom a pat.  “Good luck, little one.” I thought. 

Having a child with autism is quite different though.  As a parent of an autistic child, I often find myself pushing on a door that is meant to be pulled.  Today, however, I was quite proud of myself for recognizing this and proceeding appropriately. 

On this very cold, blustery morning we went to the Carpenter Realtor’s Easter Egg Hunt.  The entire way I was debating on whether Evan should participate in the hunt.  Finally, I envisioned me sending him off at the starting line (adults were not allowed to ‘help’) and him doing an about-face with fear and tears in his eyes.  I decided he wouldn’t participate.  Of course, I then felt a mounting wall of anxiety.  Am I going to ‘hold’ him back in everything throughout life?  At what point do I push him out into the ‘great unknown’?

I was then reminded of the pushing and pulling analogy.  I began to envision myself pushing Evan in our radio flyer wagon.  We were running into all sorts of obstacles, because I couldn’t steer the thing correctly.  It occured to me again that pulling was a more appropriate parenting technique with Evan.  If I pull Evan’s wagon, then I am able to steer him where he should go.  I can move obstacles out of the way and prepare the road ahead of us. 

Next Sunday, Evan will hunt for Easter Eggs.  I am determined!  This week we will practice putting eggs in a basket and then on Sunday someone will hold his hand (likely Gramps) while he searches for Easter eggs.  So to speak, I will prepare the way for some Easter egg festivities. 

All of these pushing and pulling analogies have sent my mind going this afternoon.  Which brings me to a real life application – autism or not.  Are there ‘doors’ or ‘wagons’ I have been pushing on that were meant to be pulled?  What about you?  Is there something in your life that just doesn’t seem to budge, something you can’t make progress with?  Perhaps we need to stop pushing and begin pulling instead.  Prepare the road ahead of us with a little prayer….