Sunday, February 21, 2010


We're always trying to figure out how much we should try to live a "normal" life and how much we ought to accommodate Martin's world and make life easier for him. The former has the advantages of challenging Martin to try new things and feel a sense of achievement when things go well. It also involves meltdowns and catastrophes. The latter offers security, but means that we aren't helping Martin continue to grow and live out his life in the world.

The long, unstructured hours of Saturday and Sunday can be a time especially fraught. Should we let Martin do what he wants all day? Or should we try to do the things our family needs to do no matter if it will be tough for Martin? I'm finding that a little of both is necessary.

For instance, Martin needs new rain boots. He hates snow boots and has, instead, worn rain boots every day since the weather got cold. His poor old boots (purple hand-me-downs from a cousin) were getting cracks everywhere. Even the bottom of one had a large crack, causing immeasurable sock sogginess.

Going to buy new boots is no simple task. It involves cajoling Martin into going to a store, trying on items, and waiting in line at a cash register. Although those things might sound routine, for some reason Martin can hardly manage them.

Wooster doesn't have a wide array of stores. Our boot options were limited to K-Mart. Our family drives by the K-Mart about twice a week. Every time, Martin reads the K-Mart sign and the words below it: Little Ceaser's Pizza Station. Imagining it to be like some sort of train depot, Martin always talks about stopping at the pizza station.

This afternoon, I told Martin that I was going to K-Mart. He asked if he could come along and go to the pizza station. I said that we would first have to try on some boots. "No boots," Martin replied, "Just pizza." I came right back: "First boots, then pizza station. I'll make a list." I then took a piece of paper and wrote down the 4 steps of our trip. Riding in the car. Trying on boots. Going to the pizza station. Going home. Martin looked at the paper and said, "OK."

In the car, Martin held the piece of paper with the steps. When we got to the store, he said, "Let's go to the pizza station first." "What does the list say?" I asked. "Oh," said Martin, "try on boots next." We walked back to the shoe department. Martin initially insisted on trying on a pair of women's black boots with pink polka dots. Then I handed him a pair of navy blue boots with green trim. He tried them on, walked up to the register, and stood beside me as a paid. He told the check-out girl, "Now I'm going to the pizza station." I bought Martin a revolting-looking piece of cheese pizza. He loved it. After he gobbled it all, he took my hand and we headed home.

I have to remember that with a few adjustments and a $1.50 pizza budget, I can have a better time with my kid then when I insist on making him do everything in a way that adults would find reasonable.


  1. I love this post, Jennifer! It reminds me of my son. The only way I can get him to buy new shoes is to take him to the most expensive shoe store in town when a specific clerk is working. It has to be when Sara is working because she understands and rewards my son by letting him play with the store's vacuum sweeper. New shoes cost more at this store than at a department store, and it is worth every.last.penny.!!

  2. i like this boots. its color so cool. thanks for sharing us.

  3. FYI: There are these rainboots called Bogs that are also able to go down well below zero. Expensive. But, a three season option.

  4. Jen, I continue to be so impressed with the intentional way that you parent and relate to Martin. Creating this list and then continuing to refer to it was playing to Martin's strengths while also challenging his growth. Wow. I can learn so much from you.
    ~Jen HS

  5. What a great post! You are negotiating positive outcomes for everyone and it's a reminder to me to do that with my own kids. You rock, Jen!