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Kerri Kava, Published July 22 2013

Parenting Perspectives: Curious little boy’s challenges realized

As moms, we’re faced with challenges. Some are more difficult than others, and some I never really worried about.

One now leaves me to my own creative resolve, but maybe you can help me with that.

I’ve had the opportunity to contribute in this column for a while, and by now, most of you know that my little boy, Carter, who is turning 6 very soon, lives with a genetic condition known as Williams syndrome.

I feel honored to be able to speak as a special-needs parent in our community. I try to do thorough job of exploring how my co-moms out there solve the daily challenges of motherhood or fatherhood – naturally.

My favorite way to get a glimpse at others’ parenting techniques is through Facebook when a friend posts a problem and is looking for other moms to offer advice.

Once in a while I offer advice, but I feel quite often (since Carter is my only child) that how you would discipline, talk to or distract a child with special needs is substantially different from how you would with one that does not.

Of course, not everything is different, but typically the advice starts with, “Tell him… blah, blah” or “Remind him of blah, blah.” Instantly I think, “Nope, wouldn’t work for me.”

My child understands best with one or two word explanations or time outs. Therefore, he has to do the wrong thing, and then see that this was a wrong behavior. It took a really long time for him to even understand that time out wasn’t supposed to be fun. Now he knows, and it works extremely well.

But what about when he isn’t doing anything wrong? What about natural curiosity?

As a female with a little boy, I knew the day would come (after years of being able to change clothes in the same room) that eventually I would have a curious little guy on my hands.

For some strange reason, I just felt like it would always be a long ways away. And because of his special needs, I was probably afforded more time than most.

But, the time is here, and questions such as “What’s that!?” and “Me see?!” have surfaced. In my creativity, I distract with “Look who’s out there, look through the crack – is it a Pteranodon from the Dinosaur Train?! It’s outside!”

I know he still can’t stand outside my stall, able to wander around the dressing room doing heaven only knows what. Surely the general public would have to understand if I tied a rope/bungee cord to him from inside the stall just to keep my little boy from wandering off or into another stall.

I’m seeking some advice, but please, I beg of you, don’t mention “explain to him that he can’t turn around” because he doesn’t get it. The little booger always turns around.

I also know that I can distract him with candy – if he didn’t put it directly on the absolutely disgusting bathroom/locker room floor prior to putting in his mouth.

And I know I can distract him with an iPad, but the floor is usually wet, and I fear he’ll drop it in the toilet, and honestly, I don’t tote that thing everywhere.

And finally, I know I can have him go with his dad, but his dad works and simply is not always with us.

I know there are other moms out there with this similar challenge. What do you do? Please clue me in, and I’ll share some of the best advice in my next column.

Readers can reach columnist Kerri Kava at kerrikava18@gmail.com