I’d like to say my son likes ALL the Beastie Boys songs I like, but that simply wouldn’t be true. Fortunately, though, he doesn’t mind “So What’ChaWant.” In fact, the catchy refrain can get him “so whatcha whatcha whatcha WANT”-ing right along with me. And that refrain can become stuck in my head, ear-worm-wise, like a mantra. So, whatcha whatcha want?
What DO I want?
One of the first visits we had with the psychologist who helped us wade into the world of “Hey, maybe my kid isn’t quite like a lot of other kids,” the good doctor asked my husband and I what we wanted for our son. The answer was easy. Isn’t the answer to that question always easy? “We just want him to be happy.”
But what does that mean, after all? Does it keep meaning the same thing when he turns four? Five? Eight? I think it doesn’t. I think it has changed and that it will keep changing. We pulled Oscar out of his half-day preschool right after he turned three and it was a long time before we went back to school. When we did, we wanted him to be “happy.” We NEEDED him to be “happy.” We needed to know he could be in a school and not suffer profoundly as a result. We were very fortunate enough to have Katherine McGee as his first teacher. She believed in Oscar’s ability to learn and flourish in a school environment. And he was happy! He wasn’t fully engaged, by any means, but he was there, in the classroom, and he was surviving. That went on for awhile and that was just fine. But as he changed and as his abilities adapted and grew, I wanted more for him. I wanted him to be able to engage his classmates and interact more. We worked with our teachers and therapists and remodeled our goals for him and achieved more success with his peer relations.
My son may never be class president or a social butterfly, but he became both capable of enjoying his classmates and interested in seeking out others socially, a huge step for us.The Special Needs version of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs progressed for us. At some point it hit me that he needed more and that I wanted more for him. He was almost eight. And then he WAS eight. What was it going to take for him to make it in the world? How do I push him academically without sacrificing the emotional and social support I know is so crucial to him? How do I continue to develop his strengths while building him up in his weaker areas?
And The Cloverleaf School was born. This is what I want for him now. And I feel solace in the idea that this school is committed to continuing to help me, as a parent, figure out what I want for my son now and next, and what HE wants for himself at each stage of his wild and precious life. Moreover, part of the mission of the school is to help figure out where I can best get what I want for him.
So, whatcha whatcha whatcha WANT? How can you go and get it?