Have you ever heard the saying, “Look on the sunny side?” This refers to a positive, optimistic outlook. It guides you to examine your circumstances and find the good or the best possible outcome. However, when you actually think about it, the sunny side means that the sun is shining bright in that spot. This could mean that it’s pretty hot! Or, it could mean that there is so much light illuminating the area, you can see everything – the good and the bad! So, in essence, the “Sunny Side” is a place that is hot (intense) and nothing can hide (transparent). Ok then – what is my “Sunny Side?” Let’s start with the hot-intense part.
I’m sure we all have our stories of intense times that include melt-downs, IEPs, public tantrums, or that time you were so exhausted, you just let the mess happen. But what about those times when your child makes a little leap forward and begins to do something that they had never been able to do before. For me, it was when my son asked me, “How are you, Mommy?” Sounds like a simple thing, so how is this intense? Well, all the steps that it took to get there was the intense part! We started with me at his bedside in the morning saying , “Good Morning? Did you sleep good?” He would say yes with no problem. However, there was no response after that. So I had to prompt by saying, “Now ask me – Did you sleep good?” He imitated just fine. Once we got the imitation down, I started pointing to myself as the prompt and not saying anything. At first, he just looked in my direction, with quick eye contact just to check that I was still there. When he saw that I was not leaving, he asked, “Did you sleep good?” This morning greeting ritual continued for several months, from full prompt to prompt fading. Eventually, he knew the drill. So, in the mornings, when my head would pop up at the top bunk of his bed asking, “Did you sleep good?” he answered and asked me right back without prompting. Still, we’re not at “How are you, Mommy?” That came in a similar fashion of prompting, imitating, and prompt fading over several months. See how that can be kind of intense?! That’s the hot-intense part! What about transparently seeing the good and the bad? The hard part (I guess the bad part) was that it took so much training and practicing just to learn something so simple. Something that most of us are not taught, it just happens naturally. Honestly, in my experiences, that has been the process with most things social. Intense effort to teach a simple response. Still, the good in that is the feeling when it happens independently or spontaneously. This is the time to celebrate and do a little victory dance! And we know those moments – those FIRSTS! They are exhilarating!!
So, when you find yourself feeling frustrated about something that your child is or is not doing, look at the intensity of your efforts. See the difficulties, but also be open to see the moments of achievement. When you do this, you might find comfort in your circumstances. You might just find that the best thing you could do is to “look on the sunny side!”