After parenting her for 16 years you would think I would get this part right by now.
We're all wired differently. With my first born child I was given this lesson and it's helped me handle my responses in many situations. There are those days though, that I forget about her wiring and I get annoyed. Her anxiety about being in crowds can initially be perceived as shyness that she "just needs to get over" when, in fact, she's having massive anxiety swirling in her brain and she's ready to burst. Some days I forget. Yesterday was one of those days and I just feel terrible.
For about a week Katie was looking forward to going to her favorite Asian shopping market, Uwajimaya. It's a bit of a trek for us so it's special when we get to go (it's also spendy so we need to budget accordingly). In my mind I'm thinking I'm doing a good thing because a.) we have the funds to go shopping here and b.) I'm taking my girls to one of their favorite stores. I'm having a 'Yay Mom!' moment. As we're walking into the store that feeling quickly turns to 'Irritated Mom' and my good vibes are fading.
Walking directly beside me, then walking directly behind me, then bumping into me when I take a step to the left when she thought I was going right. Ugh. 'Katie, what's the deal?! Why are you right on top of me?!' "Sor-ry!" was her reply as she becomes flush and looks at the ground.
We walk in and she looks overwhelmed, lost. I'm not understanding this because we have been in this store many times and she was the one that wanted this trip. Instead of taking some moments to process what could be going on I get annoyed and urge her to 'Go!'. Walking through the first section wasn't smooth so I stopped and asked my girls what they wanted to look at first. They were in search of a particular kind of tea so I found the Tea aisle and moved to the side so they could go peruse the shelves.
Katie said "There are people in aisle." 'Yes?' I respond. "I don't know how to get down there", she said. I'm confused and getting frustrated. I grabbed our cart and started down the Tea aisle and turned to her to say, 'Well honey, you start walking like this.' My expression wasn't the most pleasant I'm sure and she wasn't happy either. The rest of the shopping trip was pretty much this way. We needed a break so we picked our favorite lunch of chicken, rice and beef udon and sat down to take a break and figure this out.
I learned that my sweet Katie may be 16, she may speak up for herself when ordering now and be able to look you in the eye when you ask her a question but, those are the "good days". Those are the days when the wiring is sparking, things are flowing, and she is working so hard. Then, you have the days when things kind of short out, and the disconnect is uncomfortable, painful. "Be patient with me mom", she said.
How could I forget? I didn't cry, then.
Her little sister and I listened to Katie describe how it felt to walk into this store, how she perceived the people, the noise. Lily was able to relate to some of those feelings and it started a nice discussion. They learned that they weren't alone and had similarities. I learned that you may grow up, but you don't grow out of your wiring. It's who you are. And, I'm reminded... to be patient.