Spoons on the spectrum

I had the brilliant idea to teach my boys the game Spoons. I love Spoons! It’s easy, fast-paced, easy to reset and start again. Perfect for wiggly boys, right?

I explain the rules. Pick a card from the right, pass to the left. Keep only 7 cards in your hand at a time. You need 3 of a kind, and then you can grab a spoon. If you see a spoon get picked up, try to beat the others to get the remaining spoons. Right? Right. 

Welllll…first, Gideon can’t figure out how to hold the cards in his hand. So he keeps trying different strategies – laying them out on the table, but people can see them. Laying them out on his chair, but then they fall off. Lay them on the table, but behind a box! But then he can’t see the spoons.

Then, he can’t figure out the draw/discard system. He keeps picking up the whole pile, and tries to look at all the cards to see which ones are valuable to him, and then discard all the rest. No cards are getting passed onto Noah. Lots of cards are getting on the floor.

As I’m trying to explain general card game tips – like how to hold them, where to hold them, basic strategy – he keeps interrupting me with his version of a “better” solution. Hence, the box barrier idea. I let him go with his ideas for a short time, but I also know that he doesn’t have the attention span or self-control to learn this game while frustrated. 

I touch his hands to still him and gently promise him that I’m telling him the very best way to do it. “I have played before. You haven’t. I’m teaching you because I want you to enjoy this with me. You don’t have to find a new way, this is the best way. Trust me.”

That seemed to have registered a little. A few more run-throughs and he’s doing a fair job holding all the cards in one hand. The next time, he’s even remembering to slide his discard – just one! – to Noah. 

I tell them how much fun and how intense it can get with lots of people playing fast. 

“How fast, mom?”

Gideon can apparently only conceptualize “fast” within the context of numbers. “Like, 90 miles an hour fast? Like 5000 cards per minute fast? Did it look like THIS, mom?” **head shaking and spitting mouth noises** “LIKE THAT, MOM?”

I realize just how socially complex this seemingly simple game is, and how difficult that is to grasp for a very literal little boy. He’s too caught up in all how-to, in all the details of the game that he failed to grasp the point. Did he enjoy it? 

Once again, I recognize myself in my little boy. How many times have I googled specific symptoms? Waded through research articles? Saved pins for new behavioral techniques to try? How much mom-guilt have I loaded onto myself? How much pressure to do the exact right thing, how many times have I feared doing the wrong thing?

Do I enjoy it? This privilege to parent, this honor to raise this exceptional boy, do I enjoy it as the blessing of God that it certainly is?

I confess that no, too often, I do not. Too often I am overwhelmed with the fear of doing it wrong. Too often I fall down the rabbit hole that is the Internet. Too often, it all feels too hard to enjoy. Too often, I’m stuck in the how-to, in the details that I fail to grasp the point.

What is the point? Here’s the point.

“It is useless for you to work so hard

    from early morning until late at night,

anxiously working for food to eat; 

for God gives rest to his loved ones.

Children are a gift from the Lord;

    they are a reward from him.

Psalm 127:1-3 

In simple language, God knows the best way. We can do all the research, save all the pins, laminate all the things to use all the visual aids, get all the therapies, and work really, really hard. But really, God wants to give His children gifts and rest by way of trusting in Him. 

One of those gifts that He gave to me is my Gideon, a super cool mix of brilliance and quirks, wild energy and a tender heart. I don’t have to find a cutting-edge way to be his mama. I only have to trust my heavenly Father, and try to love my little boy the way that God loves me.

Some days, lots of days, I don’t get it right. I yell. I pick housework over quality time because I can control the outcome better. I make the wrong decisions. I don’t read my Bible and I forget to pray. I get afraid or depressed or overwhelmed and try to fix it myself by combing special needs sites. I give myself more tasks, more to do, more illusions of control.

But God stills me and speaks to me, if I’m listening, of a better way.

I need to give myself fewer tasks and more grace.

I need to understand that God doesn’t grade me, he loves me

I need to surrender to not knowing it all. To accept. 

There is freedom found in surrender

There is peace found in acceptance.

Out of trust spring grace and hope. 

“You don’t have to find a new way. This is the best way. Trust me.”

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