“TRY, TRY, TRY!” were the words that came out of Jack’s mouth as he attempted to run up a steep grass hill around 18 months of age. As Jack learned to climb up and down stairs (which came as a big challenge for him), he would also recite: “TRY, TRY, TRY!” Recently, we took him out to the beach where the sounds of the crashing waves sent him running back to the sand for safety. We tried warming him up to the feeling of the tide rolling in, but we were met with resistance as he cupped his ears and turned away in fear. Instead of packing up and going home, we chose to allow Jack the opportunity to conquer this fear. We gently walked further into the waves as we held him close. We greeted the ocean, the fishies, the dolphins, the boats, and the surfers. We also brought out a soccer ball and let Jack kick the ball to his “teammate” (the ocean), who always kicked it back with each new tide. That same tide brought us “presents”—little seashells that sparkled at our toes. Naturally, we played a game of hunt as Jack slowly reached his little hands under the water, fishing around in the sand for his new treasure. Jack’s grip on us intensified as we lowered more, but his curiosity beneath him slowly drew him closer. We gently let go of Jack and welcomed in the waves as we showed him how to splash the water with our hands and feet. As Jack went in for a sand dollar he spotted—SPLASH! A big wave barreled him over, sending him on all fours. He swallowed a little water, realized he was okay, stood up, giggled, and asked for “MORE WATER!” as he charged back into the waves.
Each time we went out with Jack, we held his hand and walked further out until he was waist high in the water. We were in a mix of utter disbelief, pride, and excitement when we saw a complete change in his overall demeanor. As he waded into the water (up to his neck), we heard Jack giving himself a pep-talk with laser focus as he whispered to himself, “TRY, TRY, TRY.” The fear left his face and, in his eyes, we saw pure confidence, joy, and wonder. We stood back and watched Jack independently run full steam into the water, splashing and kicking his little legs into the water all while flashing the happiest little grin. As we cheered him on and applauded his bravery, he exclaimed, “I DID IT!” as he threw both his arms up. We told him how brave he was, and he repeated back, “I’M BRAVE!!!” This was a moment we will never forget and forever cherish. Since that day, Jack has become quite the water baby and can’t get enough of the outdoors, sunshine, and water.
So what’s my point in sharing this short story?
When we first learned of Jack having Klinefelter Syndrome, we reached out to Living With XXY and asked what we as parents could do to set Jack up for a lifetime of success. Ryan’s advice was simple and clear: “push him.” Those words stuck with us. We also had the privilege of meeting with Ryan’s parents to record a podcast about parenting an XXY child. Their advice, coincidentally, was also to push them as you would with any other child. Don’t let them give up too easily. Don’t place them in a box. Don’t set limits on them. Encourage them to try out for that sport. Encourage them to go out and make new friends. Encourage them to try living on their own as young adults. Of course, this does not suggest forcing them to do what they don’t want to do or are uninterested in. As Jack grows, we will find this balance. At the same time, we are learning what makes Jack tick—what interests him, what excites him, what opens up his imagination, what frustrates him, what bothers him, and so on. The only way to figure all this out is to DO. Keep trying, keep exposing, keep pushing.
Here are just a few examples of ways we’ve pushed Jack to “TRY, TRY, TRY!”:
As mentioned above, Jack feared the ocean. We worked a lot with him in the pool getting used to the feeling of water, floating, splashing, etc. Slowly, he warmed up to the ocean after repeated exposure and trying out fun & silly games to feel comfortable. Now he wakes up saying, “More beach!”
Jack has grown to be incredibly adaptable with new surroundings. We attribute much of this to travel. We take that kid everywhere! And the bonus is that he will sleep anywhere. Sure, it would be much more “zen” to do a kid-free vacay, but we take delight in showing Jack the world whether that may be in a new country, on a weekend getaway, or even a fun day trip. We take advantage of our weekends to get outdoors and explore on hikes, trails, beaches, parks, and kid exploration centers. Every day is an adventure and an opportunity to show your child the world, even if that is in your own backyard! We think it is especially important to show Jack different cultures and keep exposing him to new people, surroundings, and environments.
In my previous posts, I mentioned we started Jack in early intervention at a young age. Most of the sessions have been rather effective & smooth sailing, whereas other times were a fight. While Jack probably sees therapy as simply playtime, there were (and still are) several exercises that don’t come easy. As Jack is entering his two’s, we’re seeing frustration come out when things get tough. Therapy is not easy for both parent & child, but we have seen the benefits. Through therapy, Jack has learned to be persistent, resilient, and hard working. We cheer him on, encourage him, and keep telling him to “TRY, TRY, TRY!” The smile on his face and high-pitched “I did it’s!” make all the effort worth it. We see his confidence building by the day.
These are just a few ways that we’ve worked with Jack to push him to greatness and one step towards reaching his full potential. We hope this is an encouragement to families out there who share the same goal of raising our sons to grow up and do amazing things. It’s crazy that some of the greatest lessons I’m learning come from my 2-year-old son and his simple words of wisdom—“TRY, TRY, TRY!” Hang in there parents, keep pushing, encouraging, and don’t give up. We are in this together and will push our boys to TRY, TRY, TRY as they grow up to change the world.