What does a peanut have to do with special needs parenting?

What does a peanut have to do with special needs parenting? Everything. When tackling a herculean task, the people I work with will sometimes say “we just need to push the peanut forward.” I know, it’s a strange phrase, but I love the concept.

What the saying means is that when a challenge is overwhelmingly large, and it feels like ultimate success may not ever be achieved, we should focus on doing one small thing that takes us a step in the right direction. Over time, all those steps translate into making steady progress toward the goal. Eventually, you look back and see that you’ve pushed that peanut pretty darn far!

Why a peanut? I have absolutely no idea. My best guess is that the person who first said the phrase liked alliteration. And if you think about it, a peanut is a the perfect size to push with your finger. A pineapple would be way too big, and a pea would likely roll right off the table. Peanuts are also small, satisfying, give you energy, and you can eat them in just one bite (kind of like how I feel after a small accomplishment!). :)

My big hairy goal

For me, my overwhelming challenge is helping Lily grow into a resilient, independent person who approaches life with optimism and a can-do spirit. I believe in her, but sometimes I let worry get the best of me. What if the challenges are too great and they wear down her bright spirit? What if I make the wrong choices or push her in the wrong ways? What if, what if, what if…

What I’m learning is that I can’t control the what ifs. I also can’t do everything all at once that I think she needs. However, I can slowly and steadily, push that peanut forward, one inch at a time.

For example, if I think about all of the things required to get Lily capable enough to live on her own as an adult, the list is intimidating to say the least – building strength, learning & teaching ways to adapt skills, molding her confidence and internal drive to be independent, etc. etc. etc. – all of these things are HUGE!

However, if I think about where she is now at 3 years old, maybe I can start with teaching her to take off her own pants. To do this, we need to continue therapy for her left hand and need to learn ways to adapt this one task. That feels MUCH more achievable!

How have you taken a step back and refocused on simple things that push the peanut forward?