Making Popcorn

One freeing lesson I’ve learned is that every child’s potential pops at their own time.

You may have seen this meme – the photo of popcorn with a message that reads:

“Popcorn is prepared in the same pot, in the same heat, in the same oil, and here the kernels do not pop at the same time. Don’t compare your child to other children. Their turn to pop is coming.”

Comparison is a thief of joy. As a parent, it is hard not to make comparisons. As a special needs parent, that pressure is even stronger.

I remember when we received T’s prognosis in 2016, I felt anxiety over things that I chuckle at now; like Googling what percentile his height and weight were at compared to the average child.

One big thing I worried about was T’s delayed speech at age 2.

We practiced daily with this 100 First Words board book and I was thrilled when he first correctly pointed to all 9 words on the page – a sign his receptive language was improving.

Here we are, six years later, and he is speaking just fine, albeit using colourful language I’d rather he not use!

In hindsight, I wouldn’t change how hard we worked with T. What I would’ve done differently is to ease off the pressure.

As I often write, I believe the journey is more rewarding than the destination.

When one is so focused on the destination and on others on the road, one forgets to live in their own moment and to enjoy the view and the company they are with.

I thought about the early days of working with T on his speech when I recently reflected about his journey to learn to read.

He is behind his peers, but he is making good steady progress.

The hubby and I still work hard with him, including on weekends, but we try to focus on fun now and not put so much pressure on ourselves to have T move up a reading level.

T can sense our anxieties and that, in turn, surely adds pressure on him, which can only deter his enjoyment and enthusiasm for reading.

With less pressure, a focus on fun, and genuine and generous amount of praise, we’re seeing a gradual change in T.

This month, I noticed that when we read to T at bedtime, with no expectations of him to read, he will ask to try reading some sentences.

His face lights up when he reads it correctly. He is not as discouraged when I gently correct a word he’s misread.

I also started to incorporate some of the language building techniques I’ve seen his teacher use during virtual schooling.

I pick two to three words from the book we read and ask T to brainstorm other words with similar start or end sounds – such as dr, cl, pl, sh, str.

I was warmly surprised at how many words T came up with on his own or how he sounded out the word after I gave him a letter to match up with an end sound (e.g. b+orn = born).

I wrote out all the words T created to show him how awesome of a job he did.

We cheer T on after each reading practice, because on days when his ADHD is super challenging, just getting him to sit and finish the work is quite the feat!

When we celebrate his good work and focus less on the challenges, it’s a joy to see how great he feels and the difference in his mood.

So yes, T may have been “stuck” at his current reading level for the last two months, but I’m focusing on his gains and less on the pressure of him moving up one level per month. He will get where he needs to at his own time.

When the focus is on the moment and not on an artificial rat race with others, you open yourself up to fun moments.

When we were reading “Clay Play” below, T said quite crankily, “What the hell! Why is she making so many things with clay?” In other words, he wanted it to end, so he could have free time!

And he did finish the book and did a great job with the word sound brainstorm. So as I promised him, we went to play in the snow.

He found a giant mound of snow in a parking lot and enjoyed climbing up and sliding down.

When we went back home an hour later, T asked to watch a movie with popcorn.

The hubby reminded T that he could make his own popcorn.

I watched him place the bag in the microwave, enter the time and press start – something I never would’ve felt comfortable with a year ago.

As the kernels started to pop, I gave him a high five for his awesome morning and told him to enjoy his movie.

22 thoughts on “Making Popcorn

  1. You and your hubby are doing wonderful things for your son. I have two (now grown) sons, one has ADHD and one has dyslexia and both are having successes on their own. The effort you put in on the front end will change your son’s life, and I can see you are on that path. Supportive parents are EVERYTHING. Thanks for this lovely post. I will never forget that popcorn metaphor either. 🙂

    1. Thank you for the kind comment. Congrats on the success of your two sons. Hearing success stories is motivating so thank you! 😊

  2. What a wonderful post Ab! It sounds like T is doing so much better and I love your approach! If only most people would look at learning like you do, it would be a much less stressful time for our kids. As for the popcorn, I am like your hubby. I taught our 7 year old grandson how to make pizza rolls and chicken nuggets in our microwave. He was so proud and it has really built his confidence. Last weekend I had him make his own sandwich, it was HUGE! Lol

    1. Thank you, Diane. It took a long time to change our approach but it’s been yielding better results now. Sometimes you just need to learn things through mistakes. 🙂

      Pizza rolls and nuggets in the microwave sound awesome. It’s great you are teaching him independence because it does help with confidence for sure!

      I can only imagine how huge the sandwich was. Just wait till he’s a teenager! 😆

  3. I love this post. So true. So kind. So inspiring, for all family members. Yes, our Kids will shine, grow , and bloom at their own pace. No kids are the same, and each will pop like the kernels at their own time and readiness. Comparison and competition is never healthy. It’s a trigger of stress, anxiety, fear, insecurities, conflicts, negativity. I admire your Parenting and that of your Hubby. You both are models of strong, loving, generous and supportive Parents. Truly a light in a time of too many darkness. Once, I was in that circle where kids are being compared and parents trying to outshine each other. I hated it and I felt like an outcast unable to relate. So I left that circle. My Son is happy and I could see it literally. No pressures. No stress. Just doing what he enjoys at his own time. We don’t have to tutor him, which I’m thankful because I can no longer remember Algebra and stuff. I’m old. He keeps me and his mind young and updated to the world who is in a hurry with new things and tech. Take care Ab. Regards .🙏

    1. Thank you for sharing that. I am thankful for a small but close group of friends where there isn’t that pressure to outshine each other. But I definitely have known people like that so I know all too well the feelings that you are referring too. 😊

      Math was my favourite subject in school but I don’t remember a damn thing about algebra now. Lord help me when the time comes to try and explain that to my son. 😆😆😆

      Enjoy the rest of your week. It seems to be flying by!

      1. Thanks Ab. The good thing about being Adults, we get to choose our Circle of Friends that offers mutual support, understanding and kindness. True friends are the ones willing to stay when things get tough and not leave. Same applies for true families. Take care.

  4. I love that saying about popcorn and how we shouldn’t make comparisons with others. That’s good advice when it comes to children and as adults as well. Performance is all relative, what matters more is individual progress and creating a safe and nurturing space to learn. It sound like you’re making good progress with T’s reading and are (mostly) having fun while doing it. That snow pile looks massive!!

    1. Thanks Linda as always for the supportive comments. And yes, you’re right – comparison is not unproductive with children but also as adults! 😊

      And that snow pile is massive indeed! There’s a big part at the bottom that got cropped out. 😊 He enjoyed climbing and playing on it.

  5. I love how you are exposing T to all sorts of experiences, both educational, fun, and life skills! I was so worried about one of my daughter’s language skill at one point in her life and we spent many hours with her. Today, she is an editor. All your devotion and hard work is already paying off. Andyes, this should be in a parenting magazine!

    1. Thank you for sharing your daughter’s story! Way to go and congrats to her on getting into editing/publishing. It is a wonderful reminder that everyone “pops” in their own time. 😊

    1. Thanks Vickie for the vote of confidence. 😊 And he’d recently watched the new Hotel Transylvania movie so Dracula was top of mind. 😆 Happy Monday!

  6. Wow, the popcorn analogy is awesome! I haven’t heard that before, but it’s so spot on. I’ll have to store this in my memory. As for T, he will continue to make progress & once he’s older reflecting on his growth and how far he’s come with the support of his parents he will be extremely proud❣

    1. Thank you! It’s a wonderful analogy I’ve seen shared on parenting boards over the years and one that still holds true.

  7. I hadn’t heard that wisdom about popcorn. I love it. And also this sentence, “With less pressure, a focus on fun, and genuine and generous amount of praise, we’re seeing a gradual change in T.”

    Such an important lesson for us all. Thank you, Ab!

    1. Thank you, Wynne. 😊 It’s a lesson I really try to meditate on daily, because it makes such a difference.

      And the putting popcorn in the microwave thing is the hubby’s doing. I personally did not feel comfortable with dreading what he’d put into it, like something metal. So I supervise from afar and so far so good. 🙏🤞🏻

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