David (12, AS) gets hungry often, and his latest preferred snack is Ritz crackers with peanut butter and a chocolate milk.
Off and on, throughout his life, I've tried to help him learn how to make the chocolate milk and how to spread the peanut butter. The problem is that he gets frustrated, with a severe "I can't" attitude immediately. If I insist that he at least give it a try, he'll slam a cracker onto the counter, jab the knife into the peanut butter, slam it onto the cracker, and stomp out of the kitchen, saying, "See, I can't do it." At that point, he's unreachable. I always tell myself that we'll work on it some time when he's more receptive to learning. He never is.
Last year we managed to get him qualified for Regional Center. He's got a case worker who, I thought, was supposed to work with us on this kind of stuff. But in reality, all she has done is come to the house and help us set goals. So now he's got this official goal to be more independent and make his own snacks, but that's it. Making the goal happen is up to me. Well, I guess that's what being a parent is all about, but it's hardly any help. I was under the impression that someone would come to our house and help teach him these things. I'm not sure what I was thinking, though, because surely a total stranger isn't going to have more success at it that his own mother.
Anyway, the older he gets, the more I feel like a failure. It's like it takes a whole days' energy to get him to do the most basic cleaning up after himself. I feel resentful when I'm standing in the kitchen making him a snack for the third time that day, and it's only 10am, while he sits on the couch with a comic book, grumbling because no one has wiped the crumbs off from last time.
I understand that these should be teaching moments. Like, here's how we sweep or vacuum the crumbs off the couch (always his crumbs). But he absolutely refuses to touch the little vacuum cleaner or the dustpan and brush. If I "make him" do it, he goes into one of those autistic/can't-handle-anything modes, which always ends up with him in tears, and a big mess that I have to clean up. DH and I both find ourselves being short and sarcastic with him, and speaking to him as if we expect him to get his own snacks like every other 12 year old. I realize that's not helpful, and we first need to teach him the skills, but we can't even do that.
I hate to call him lazy. I really do understand that some things might be harder for him than for some other people, but I just wish he had some drive to learn skills. He insists he doesn't care if he is never able to spread peanut butter on his own cracker or put something on a hanger. Ugh, don't get me started on the hanger thing. Hardly any of his clothes need to be hung up, but he won't even spend five blooming seconds trying to calmly, carefully, work out how something goes onto a hanger. He wads his jacket into a bunch, stuffs it into the opening of the hanger, then smashes it into the closet, knocking other stuff down. Just like with the snack preparation and a hundred other things, I don't want everything to be a fight, so I tend to just do it myself.
Once in a while, I tell myself that I need to put up with the fight so he can learn stuff and experience a few successes. It almost always backfires, though. He has no concept of pride in a job well done. Well, he does for things like his creative projects, but not for things like tidying up or preparing a snack.
I'm not sure what to do, to be honest. It'll be my fault if he becomes an adult who can't wash his own cup (or whatever) but how do you teach your kids to do something that they absolutely refuse to even try?
Sorry this is so long. :) In fact, to make it even longer, this is part of the reason I've lost touch with all of my IRL friends. I can't even talk about the fact that we have these issues, because it's like "oh, well, that's why we insisted that little Johnny clear his own plate when he was three." I don't feel like anyone understands. I know you ladies will, but we can't exactly invite you over for a cup of coffee, can we?