Yesterday I heard a psychologist/life coach on the radio discussing the stumbling blocks we face in our lives, as well as the most effective ways to overcome them. He repeatedly said that we have to get over our fear of failure. But, as we are in Utah, it sounded more like “fear of fellyer.” Fellyer, he uttered in folksy Utahnics, is something many people fear because they don’t address the root of the problems that afflict them. In other words, we dance around our stumbling blocks, rather than honing in on the core of our problems and eradicating them. I liked what this guy had to say. It seemed really bluntly effective. It seemed honest. It didn’t allow for excuses, like the tendency people have of blaming failures on their circumstances, the culture–whatever.
Later that day I described this psychologist’s theory to Jeff, whose first words were, “So what is the root cause of the poo?” (You see how it seeps into every aspect of our lives and dwells at the top of our subconscious?) Herein lies the difficulty to applying life-coach-guy’s philosophy to our family. The root of the poo problem is that Jack is mentally disabled. We can go on and on about why he resists the toilet, why he makes big messes, why two days of victories in potty training are followed by one nasty Sunday morning disaster (there’s nothing like a Code Brown to get the Sabbath rolling!), or why our efforts to fix the poop problem aren’t good enough. But the fact remains that Jack is a human being. He is a person with a whole lot of personality, and currently a whole lot of willpower to poop almost anywhere but in the potty. We can’t force him to finish potty training any more than we can force him to speak.
I honestly don’t know how to eradicate this stumbling block, other than wiping the poop off it and remaining patient with the person who put it there.
I don’t believe Jack came to our family to be “fixed.” We can’t cure him of his genetic differences, and really I think if we were to try we would be missing the point. We can’t fix him, but we can love who he is and learn from him–his sweetness, his innocence, his unabashed joy at simple pleasures like balloons, vacuum cleaners, bubble baths, and minty sticks of gum. I can’t stop the veneer of poop from coating my house, but I can react to it patiently. I can rant about how messes spring up perpetually around me, or I can clean it up and go on loving my Jack despite his flaws. So I guess my response to the radio dude’s comments is that while poop remains our stumbling block, the person who produces it is not a problem that needs fixing. He is an individual with many things to learn and also many things to offer.
My friend Tara, a fellow mom of a special child, posted on Facebook this little jewel from Winston Churchill: “Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” Thank you Mr. Churchill for helping me see that my efforts are valid, even when they don’t work. Thank you Jeff for being my longsuffering partner in cleanup. And thank you Jack, for keeping our family real.