Parenting Together

One of the biggest challenges for Shawn is how to be parent. He tries his best to be an effective parent but unfortunately the brain injury poses obstacles that we have yet figured out how to overcome. He has the hardest job of trying to figure out what role he is suppose to have. It is physically impossible for him to be the disciplinarian and also physically impossible for him to be the playful parent.  I sometimes feel like he just observes and watches from the outside. I try desperately for him to be involved and figure out his role but it is not always the easiest thing to do.  One side of it, we have older children who remember Shawn before the accident and have always struggled with how life and Shawn have changed.  Then we have our youngest who only knows his dad the way he is now. It was so strange when we were talking about the past one day and our youngest turned to his dad and said ” daddy, you used to walk?”.  It never dawned on us that this was something so strange for him to overhear.  I love the fact that he is loving and accepting to anyone with a disability because seeing someone in a wheelchair is just so normal for him. It truly is a testament to how our children can adapt and just seem to know how to best accommodate Shawn.  It really made me proud and happy when I saw our youngest ask his dad to play a board game.  He went and got the game and set everything up on Shawn’s right side, knowing it was the only side he can use and therefore reach with.  No one told him to do that, he just knew and it was a great feel good parenting moment for us both.  Even with the great moments there are still other moments that I know are so difficult for Shawn and something that he works on as part of his therapy.  Shawn’s brain injury tends to put things in black and white and we all know with small a child that doesn’t always work.  Shawn is working weekly with his speech therapist to deal better with more abstract situations and not so much the absolutes.  Quite often he will get in an argument with our youngest about tiny little details that are not that important but for him he has a hard time just “letting it go”.   That again is the brain injury so it will be an ongoing part of his speech therapy and just working on strategies when dealing with the kids.  About 5 years ago, Shawn’s speech therapist mentioned to Shawn that maybe he could start asking our son what colour his shirt was, to help with him learning his colours.  Well every day for 5 years, Shawn has asked him what colour his shirt is.  You can imagine what kind of reaction he gets when he asks a now 6 year old what colour his shirt is, everyday for the last 5 years lol.  I have tried multiple times to get him to stop asking that and come up with something else and he said that he does it so he learns his colours.  I told him he is 6, he knows his colours!  It is just something that is basically stuck with him and we are desperately trying to stop that question!!  As annoying as it is, I know he means well and now we are trying new ways for him to engage in conversation without the constant questions.  It sounds simple but it is surprisingly difficult for him to come up with new questions and conversation topics.  It is a constant challenge to try and parent together but well worth every frustrating question because it is how he feels he is having a part as a father.   However, it is also very sad for me knowing that our youngest will never know the dad that Shawn would have been if life had dealt us different cards. It makes me wonder who is more fortunate the kids that remember who Shawn was/is with the incredible wit and sense of humour and playfulness with his kids or the child that will never know that entire side of his father so therefore can’t miss it.

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