Family Roles

“Sketch, we are going to Whole Foods in 5 minutes.”

“No!  No Whole Foods?”

“Yes, we need to go while the others are at the track.  In 5 minutes you need to get dressed.”  I give him a warning; time to let the idea sink in.  I set the timer, which usually helps a bit, but not this time.

“Beep! Beep! Beep!”

“Sketch, let’s get dressed.”

“No! Are you all done?” He starts kicking me with his ever-stretching 7-year-old legs.  I back up, he comes toward me to hit and kick until I leave the room.

He slams the door.  Repeatedly.

As if on cue, I connect the eye hook so he can’t continue to slam the door.  It’s what he wants. His door is broken (I wonder why?) and won’t latch anymore.

As I close the door, I see him dart to the bed, his almost toothless grin spreading ear to ear.  He is having fun. I hear the tell-tale signs that someone is jumping on his bed behind that closed door.

I know I am playing the exact role he wants me to play. I know that he is “winning”.   But, it just isn’t worth it.  I can’t physically move him anymore; I can’t make him come to the store.

So, I choose my battles, and this isn’t it. This time.

I think about how he doesn’t play a part in the family.  He is in his own little world most of the day unless he wants something.  He doesn’t do any chores or tasks; he doesn’t help out on any regular basis.

Dash (9, autism/adhd) used to be the same way.  Now he plays a big role in the family: proudly helping with recycling and trash, watching PolkaDot and letting me know if there is a problem, going to the store and helping with loading the groceries and bringing them in from the car.   He also has chores, which he does not want to do.  And he will gripe, groan, grouse and growl until our ears ache from it.  But he does do it–especially when computer time depends on it.

Sketch still does nothing.  Partly, this is because we have always been so busy with Dash (who has the most severe case of ADHD I have ever seen) keeping him safe, making sure he doesn’t jump out a window or anything, that we never had time to spend teaching Sketch or helping him have a role or chore.

Now, Dash is doing splendidly!  Now, it’s time we focus on pulling Sketch up through the crack he’d fallen through.

There is so much potential that we see with Sketch.  Last week I took him to the grocery store with me because we were out of his favorite snack foods. He did a surprisingly good job (I would say, smashingly good job, but that may put a whole different picture in your minds : )  getting some of the grocery items off the shelves, loading the items onto the belt for purchase, and putting the bags in the car. He really seemed proud of himself!

But he does not see this as his “role” in the family. There have been many times when he’d refuse to go to the store even when it was to get his beloved Stoneyfield French Vanilla Yogurt. He’d rather do his own thing in his own world and not have to bother with the workings of the family.

However…

It really caused a blockade for us this time. We couldn’t have the dinner I’d planned, because the main dish was still sitting in the refrigerator section at the store.

The next day I took PolkaDot to Whole Foods, and Sketch went to the track (after the use of Mr. Incredibles super-powers, to get him there) with the others.  I had told him that we need him to play his part in the family or we just can’t function. We can’t get things done without him.  I told him he is very important and that we need him.

The idea that we can’t function without Sketch playing his role reminded me of the Body of Christ, and how we all have a part to play in the Body in order for it to function.

But so often we sit on the chairs and watch others do the doing. We don’t get involved, we don’t find our roles.  We sit in our own little worlds and do our own thing…just like kids with autism so often do.

We all have to do our part in order for the Body to work right, no matter how small (in our eyes) that part may be. Sometimes the result of our lack of participation is not as obvious to us. After all, “No one is ever told what would have happened.” (Aslan’s sage observation from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis)

1 Corinthians 12: 12-26

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.  For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

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