Bent over the white paper of his assignment booklet he grasps his pencil as if his life depended on it. Furrowed brow, mouth hanging open he concentrates on the words he writes, erasing the occasional misspelled word. At school, one of the major issues he faced was with focusing in the classroom setting. At home, he concentrates like a champ in our structured times.
Then, there are the unstructured times. Following me every step of my day is a boy who has no real sense of boundaries and social graces when he is just looking for a friend. During the school day that friend would be, no one else but….me. I am his teacher in those teacher moments, I am his buddy in those non-school moments and I am his mother all those times and the times in between. Being the only child in our Home School of One is a lonely gig, when he’s used to children being everywhere, whether he’s at school or at home. This whole transition of being at home alone all day has been an “interesting” experiment for us both.
I like personal space and boundaries. If there were personal space bubbles that could bounce people out of my personal space when they get too close, I would buy a lifetime’s supply of them. I, without being aware of it, gave up my bubble for the closeness of two children who don’t seem to care that I need a buffer zone. My other two children love affection but they don’t follow me around the house the way the other two do. My oldest and youngest (the ones with challenges) follow me around closer than a shadow. I have to watch that I don’t turn around too fast or I may swing my arm and elbow into them. If I don’t look as I turn, I may trip over them or full-on body check them. Backing up can be tricky, depending on how many are standing in my personal space behind me without me knowing.
Hugging, touching and wrestling with my children are activities which I look forward to. I love to have them close…for a time. Then, I like them to step back into their personal bubbles and have some time to themselves. Or, at the very least, follow me from a two foot radius around me.
You can find me snuggling any number of children on my lap or beside me during the day. I’ll play with my girls’ hair or rub another child’s back if they are sitting near me. I don’t mind them being close at all, most of the time.
There was a time last week when I was shopping and I was trying to compare prices and products. It’s one of those situations where I may have to change my direction with my body unpredictably as I move back and forth from product to product or aisle to aisle. I became aware of J-man’s penchant for shadowing me in situations like this. I would tell him “Please, just stay by the cart” but there would be something he HAD to tell me that required him coming inches in front of me while I was trying to read a box and he could not wait for one more second to tell me his important news, such as “Mom, did you see that guy over there? He was wearing a green shirt.” Important stuff here. Glad you told me son. Now, I have to reread the box’s tiny list of ingredients so I can find if any offensive artificial coloring is in it. At which point he is desperate to talk to me about a thing that happened last week when one of his siblings said something or other to him. Speaking to me right in the face is how he makes sure I am paying attention. Not a bad strategy, though it gets rather tiresome for me when he has something to say every 10 seconds.
It started to drive me a bit batty. Especially since he’s been shadowing me at home too. I didn’t notice it when he was in school. But now that he’s home all day, it seems that I need a personal space bubble for me so that he can figure out that he just can’t come up behind me and start talking. It could give his poor momma a heart attack!
I miss my little personal time, as limited as it was. Oh did I ever have any? Really?
He’s not the only one that pops that imaginary bubble of personal space. My little gal does it too. “Mom, UP!” My five-yr-old cries. Yes, she’s five. Yes, she still requires a lot of Momma’s time and a bucketfull of cuddles everyday. My sweet child is as big as an 8 yr old giant. Snuggling includes sitting down with her, and not carrying her around like you can do with a small 5 yr old. She also has no awareness of personal boundaries and has been known to hug and kiss her friends at school. Yee haw! Teachers probably wonder at what I do to make these kids so free of personal space rules.
Since homeschooling J-man I have come to value “me” time. Value? Heck, if I could grab some I would pay a pretty penny for it.
I’m not sure if any other momma’s to special needs kids feel the same way but I need a Personal Space Bubble. If anyone is selling, I’ll buy.