- Do you ever buy something for a loved one that doesn’t get touched? How does it make you feel? Annoyed? Frustrated? Disappointed?
- What were you hoping to feel with that purchase? Love? Joy? Connection? Appreciation?
Well, I wrote this letter to myself in 2011 because I had noticed some habits that weren’t serving me or my son. I got to the root cause – expectation and my desire for connection. If you have a child who is not typically developing or perhaps is just into different things that are not typical for children their age, maybe you can relate to this.
I see you walking the aisles of the toy store grasping desperately at toys and activities that you hope will make Andrew want to play normally with you. You often don’t even look at the price of the items you are purchasing because to you, in that moment, there is no price for the possibility of connection.
Margaret, these toys go unplayed with, sit in colorful bins and on shelves as sad reminders that what you had hoped for is not what it is. They did not cause any magical connections to happen. They never do and never will. It is time to move on.
Show yourself some love and compassion and know that you are doing all that you can and know to provide Andrew with opportunities to grow and connect. What he chooses to do with his free time is his business. As you saw the other night, there are so many other children who would love to play with these toys. These toys are meant to be played with and can really make a difference for someone else who may have a child completely different from Andrew, who plays the crap out of all of their toys and cannot afford new ones.
In giving away these toys, you are not giving up on Andrew and all of his potential. You are releasing these unwanted, unnecessary things to make space. Space for thoughts, space for ideas, space for things that he does choose to play with.
How would it feel to have someone else’s crap and expectations crowding your personal space? You wouldn’t like it one bit. It would distract you and piss you off that they were expecting you to be different from who you really are.
It is time to get your stuff out of his space. The next time you are at the store, before you purchase something, really think about him, not yourself. Think about what he likes, what he enjoys, what fills him with joy. Purchase it only if it does not come with any expectations. If it turns out you were wrong, that’s ok. But remember that “stuff” and “things” aren’t going to change who he is. He is wonderful and fabulous in his uniqueness. We never need any “thing” to connect with someone, just love. Love him with all of your heart and he will feel loved, cherished and nourished.
I thought I would share this now as we are approaching a time of year where we tend to do a lot of gift purchasing for loved ones. I encourage you to notice what your motivation is when selecting something for someone else.
- Is it something you know will bring them a great deal of joy? (Sometimes we hit a home-run and sometimes we strike out, just notice where your disappointment lies when you do strike out.)
- Is it something that you hope will nudge them in a different direction because you are fearful that they won’t be “normal” or accepted by the other kids?
- Are you hoping it will bring connection? If so, look to what they connect with and start there.
- Are you buying it for yourself or for them? (I’ve purchased many building block kits that just sit there because I imagined us playing and building towers and forts because that’s what I liked to do.)
These are questions that I now ask myself and after doing this for almost four years, I am amazed at the relief I feel now when I enter his room. There are ceiling fan parts and pieces scattered around the floor because that is something he is into and it brings him a great deal of joy to play with. I have removed my personal expectations (and made lots of toy donations) and can now see that it truly is his room with his stuff. It feels just like him 🙂 and that feels more peaceful for me!
Love and gratitude,