Posted in family life, sqt

{sqt} – finding community and playing board games

I’m linking up with This Ain’t the Lyceum again today for seven quick takes! I’ve had a bit of writer’s block this week and having a format laid out for me helps get the words flowing again 🙂

  1. I’ve been feeling a lot more isolated lately. Rondel (and even Limerick) are older than the kids who show up to the weekly church playgroup, all of their friends from church are in school or therapy most of the time, and I’m having trouble finding a homeschool group that is relaxed enough to accommodate our family’s needs. I mean, field trips and classes aren’t going to help the boys make friends, and park days where the kids are expected to play away from the adults is going to be hard with the little kids (and Rondel’s tendency to zone out and lose track of where he is and how to find his way back to me). And honestly, I don’t need a whole group, just one or two families who can walk through life with us right now.
  2. Sometimes I think our family falls into so many different/radical/tiny niche categories that I will never find anyone who really gets it on all levels. There’s the large “autism family” blanket – but oh wait, they don’t know how to handle an autistic parent, and they tend to support ABA therapies that are described as abusive by a lot of autistic adults who have experienced them (perks of an adult diagnosis here…). There’s the homeschool blanket – but we are using ESA funds from the state to help pay for speech therapy and curriculum, which puts us in a special legal category, and is apparently reason enough for several of the larger state groups to exclude us. And we’re Christian of course, but I’m uncomfortable in a lot of the Christian homeschooling circles (they can swing fundamentalist and Calvinist), and I want my kids to be exposed to the diversity of ideas and backgrounds that a secular group might offer – but I still want them to know (and hopefully believe) what I believe to be true about God. I could try to get all the pieces in different places but that is so much socializing and I don’t think I can handle that many people/groups/acquaintances!
  3. Mostly I just want Rondel to find a best friend. He told me he would like to play more with other kids but he ends up just watching them and doing his own thing a lot of the time because he isn’t sure how to join in. And I don’t know how to help him 😦 I just sort of clung to my best friend through most of childhood and depended on her to navigate social events. So I keep hoping he will meet someone to be that kind of friend… if you are ever wanting to pray for our family, that would be at the top of my list right now.
  4. In other news, we have been making more and more board games until they seem to be everywhere. We have number boards up to 100, 195, 223, and 550 (Limerick keeps requesting more and more numbers with smaller and smaller squares, but I think 550 is the limit even using our smallest game pieces). We have a traditional path-format board game with colored squares, a spiral snake with colored squares, a loop board game with the letters of the alphabet, and most recently a sting ray-shaped board with a colored path twisting along his body. My favorite game is called “LEGO Monsters” and we play it on path or spiral snake boards: each square gets one or two LEGO pieces of the same color as the square, and if a player’s piece lands on a square they get to collect the pieces and use them to build a monster. We all start with a head and eyes to make sure we aren’t missing those crucial elements, and we end up with some crazy creations! This game also has the advantage of removing the winning/losing element 🙂
  5. While I may get tired of playing the board games all day long, I have to admit they were the cause of the least stressful visit we have ever had to the pediatrician. Usually the boys have a lot of trouble keeping their hands off of things, leaving the light on, staying quiet when the doctor is talking, and so on – but this time they each brought a board game and were able to play contentedly even though we had to wait quite a while (not due to any fault of the doctor; Aubade has a UTI and we had to wait for her to pee so they could test it). Even the doctor complimented them on how well they behaved, which is definitely a first at this office!
  6. Another side effect of the board games is that Limerick is beginning to internalize a lot of the numbers and their relationships. He can do quite a bit of addition now without having to count to make sure, especially with numbers 1-6 (thank you dice) but also with larger numbers because of his number boards. It’s neat to see his understanding of the numbers deepen – when I watch him think about the sum of his three dice, for instance, or about what number he’ll be moving to after adding his roll to his current position, I can almost see him manipulating the numbers in his head, breaking them up and recombining them, becoming friends with them.
  7. And finally, we have been counting. Counting and counting and counting. We drove to church and Rondel counted the whole time drive and all the way to Sunday School (he made it to 1025). We drove to speech therapy and Rondel almost cried when we asked him to take a break from counting for his appointment and pick up again afterwards (poor guy – it is hard to stop when you’re in the middle of something and going strong!). I’m not sure what he likes about it, since he isn’t nearly as in love with numbers as Limerick, but hey, he’s never going to forget those numbers now!

How has your week been? Do you have tips for making connections and building community? How about any favorite board games (non-competitive games in particular)?

2 thoughts on “{sqt} – finding community and playing board games

  1. S has counted to 1000. I’m excited to tell him R has as well, and beyond! He doesn’t know anyone else who has the patience to get that high.

    We have found three families through church with whom we spend time in different ways. One has their kids in charter school (their younger boy and S are close friends), one is homeschooling (their girl and J are close friends), and one has a single boy around J’s age, which makes for slightly calmer get togethers which is a blessing for my sanity (ha ha).

    We all share the same core beliefs and convictions, and the moms (and dads, when I see them) are good friends and great encouragements to us. Personalities are all vastly different. Backgrounds are incredibly different (one family is from the midwest, another from Turkey!). It took about nine months of somewhat deliberately and intentionally pursuing and planning hang outs to realize who was also seeking the same kind of community and connection as we were. Our times together are unstructured and mainly just a way for us all to stay casually connected with people outside our immediate family (or school, for the one family). For the kids in school, getting together is either a late afternoon or weekend thing.

    The main challenge I had run into before: other people were already fairly established in their own friend groups or social structures. And traditional homeschool gatherings for this age of kids are just stressful because I’d just be watching the younger two kids amongst a mass of tiny bodies and hope that the older two are included among kids who already have friends.

    For all of these three families, I got to know them initially through our church small group and/or the summer women’s Bible study I did.

    I have also been blessed with the friendship of two Catholic families, one we met through Robbie’s work and one whom I know from Homeschool Honor’s Society over a decade ago. They both have kids similar in age to one of my oldest two and then one of my youngest two.

    All of that to say, it’s taken awhile to realize what our family needed, what kind of commitment we could offer to others, and how to really get to know people without enduring large stressful gatherings and coming out the other end feeling like we just survived a crowded amusement park instead of enjoying community and playtime. It ended up happening because I “dated” other families who might be a good fit and a few of them stuck! I know it’s easier for me to put myself out there than it is for some, but it’s hard for me to find people willing to talk about deeper or more honest things than the small talk moms often stick to. Diving into that deeper plane can be difficult to navigate and I’m often impatient to get there. Having prior connection or meeting in a more vulnerable setting (like the Bible study) really helped.

  2. I wish I lived closer to you! I’m in Maryland, but at least three of my six kids are on the autism spectrum, and my husband and I were undiagnosed as children, but clearly on the spectrum in hindsight. My kids are all older than yours now (21 down to 11), but I well remember longing for just one or two compatible families, and maybe even a best friend for them!

    What I love about your post is the compassion and understanding you have for your children, and your delight in them. It seems to me that other than a strong faith life, these are the things that most help kids navigate life with joy. God bless you!

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