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Challenge: Perfectly Imperfect Parenting

Inches and milestones in our lives

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Seeley was around 3, when her speed and momentum coupled with great enthusiasm began toppling over kids at the park.

For my daughter, many milestones don’t come naturally. We work through each and every inch of the mile. There are more families running with this reality than I knew before we were thrust into the world of special needs.


I followed, always just a few steps behind her and time after time, she would run up to a child and full steam bonk right into them.

She would do everything, and say everything she was supposed to do in situations with new people.

She completed it all — systematically, without breathing, without looking into the bewildered child’s eyes, and certainly— without waiting for them to get up off the ground.

If I had had a lesson plan it would have looked something like this:

These are your feet, can you show me your feet?

These feet can run, show me how they run.

These feet can walk slowly, can you show me?

These feet can stop, can you believe it? Show me go, now show me stop.


This, is all necessary for party: dress, headphone incase stuff gets loud, a tablet to temporarily loose herself in if she is overwhelmed.

These tasks became our inchstones.

Fun Fact: Did you know there are 5,280 feet or 63,360 inches in a mile?

We practiced and had many mini celebrations for two each time she accomplished a task.

Fun FlanaVille Fact: at the end of every task, there is a party — like the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

Upon learning where her feet were, how to connect a decision to run with the action of running, and stopping I realized we need a much more important skill. The return.

See began to run, at first in circles, then in a line. And lord have mercy, I forgot to teach her the run back step that would keep her safe!


We lived only a block and a half from a sweet park in Osceola, Wisconsin. We got to practice a lot, and we worked, in the early morning hours.

Then, the special awareness began.

Seeley, put your arms out, good! Great job!

This is your space. Can you say, Seeley zone?

Let’s practice you being near me, without our bubbles touching.

This is my space, moms zone. Can we try again?

Once a lot more of this had happened, we were able to blend the two sets of skills.

Seeley Flanagan: run, stop, space given, script starts.

I felt like a million dollars. She was proud too.

Picture this, all is well, I am a mom on a bench at the park for the first time ever. She is a kid, managing her space and her words and nobody hit the dirt around her.


A mom, on a bench, basking in the normal of it. Just kidding, not really, this is me perched on the edge, always watching, shoes laced tight.

Just then, she and I both learn, there is more to the lesson, and it begins immediately — what if someone says no thank you to her offer to play?

{kid gets pushed, Seeley screams and runs…the wrong direction and forgets what stop means… peaceful mom is glad her shoes are tied tight}

Even so, we had accomplished so much. We have since built on the skills, as you can imagine.

Seeley has a short window each day where learning is most possible. For her, the entire brain power has to be engaged for a new skill to enter our world.

Our prime opportunity is made up with an early morning, a calm body, super sonic ears ready, and an ability to be flexible to a new idea.

Her prime moments need to be spent with a calm mama (or teacher, a trustworthy and aware adult or friend), a clear goal and lots of repetition and play.

When we line those things up perfectly, and work really really hard, an inchstone party isn’t far away.


The process in the park, took a year and a half. We do frequent reminders to keep her flexible, honoring others space.

Now, at nearly six we are still working on expectations of play. We have added the idea of people being unavailable too.

In 2020 & 2021 when social distancing is a thing, I sure am glad for the hours and hours of park training.

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