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Empty Your Brain Completely & Do Your Best

Encoraging one another

Encouraging one another

Sometimes I feel sorry for my kids.  Not really, but in a sense of “normal will never be normal” kind of way.  Mmostly, I’m okay with it because while they deal with all the twists and turns and upheavals of living life on the spectrum, they are learning great lessons of diversity, tolerance, acceptance, understanding and compassion that I couldn’t teach just by talking.  These are great life lessons and they are learning them by living life with the people they love, one of which happens to live on the spectrum.

Earlier this evening, I laughingly thought “your normal is never gonna be normal” yet again.  This time because we’ve now had two ISAT prep parties.  Who does that anyway??  Sometimes, strange things happen when your best friend is a teacher and your husband is a principal.  Thus, my kids’ “normal,” not so much on the “normal” scale.

Tonight’s celebration consisted of lots of fun for kiddos ages 3-14, kid-friendly supper, lots of laughs, the compilation of snacks, and notes of encouragement for the kids of each family from the kids of the other family.  It’s something we did last year and I have to admit, I thought it a bit strange, but it was a fun night with friends and I caught my kids reading the notes from their friends several times throughout the week.  So, when the first wave of ISAT notes rolled in from the school, I casually mentioned ISAT Prep Party to the kids & you’d have thought I said “Bonus Birthday Party!”

Once the planned festivities were complete and the kids returned to their NERF battle in the basement, we began to clean up and I found myself reading through the notes the kids wrote on each other’s posters.  The notes ranged from “Don’t fail!!” to “Do your best” and beyond, but one in particular caught my eye…“One time, my grampa told me was whenever your nervous about something empty your brain completely and do your best.”  What wonderful words of wisdom from a grandfather to his grandson!!!  And they obviously made an impact on the young boy as he shared them with my kids.

This is when I realized it’s more than just prepping for a test, we’re inadvertently teaching our kids to care for one another enough to encourage each other.  Sometimes God shows me moments that come together for such good, it’s a great reminder that He’s got this because I never even thought of how great the good in it was until He shined His light on it and I began to see things from a different perspective.

I keep going back to that note in my mind as I think through the coming week and all that it entails.  Along with ISATS, as a family, we have a scholastic bowl regional meet, two kids with two basketball practices, two with a basketball game, one with three musical rehearsals, a night of piano lessons, another night of AWANA kids’ club at church, a haircut (priorities, you know), a wedding anniversary, twins with a birthday to celebrate, a photoshoot, and now a funeral for a very dear aunt who has been freed from a lengthy battle with cancer.  I’m beginning to realize perhaps that message was meant just as much for me as it was for my kids.

This could be a very long and trying week for anyone, but add in the autism factor, or as we often lovingly refer to it, “the Ben factor”, and there’s potential for a meltdown or two, and I’m just talking about me here.  I think I’m going to follow my young friend’s grandfather’s advice and empty my brain completely and just do my best.



  1. Dorothy Miller says:

    Another great article, Jo, and advise I will definitely remember.

  2. Lorna says:

    I love your article. It reminds me of when my kids were little and they would stand at the end of the road waiting on the bus and I would always tell them before they got on the bus to make sure they put on their thinking cap when they got to school. I told them this not because I didn’t think they could do the work, I wanted them to do their best. It didn’t matter if they got straight A’s, I just wanted them to do their best. That’s all I expected. I love the part that the grandfather told the boy to empty his mind. Our minds are so full and filled with so much that I know I can also use this advice in my daily life. Thanks to your mom for passing your article on to me. You have one awesome mother may I add. She is such an inspiration to me. Thanks again.

  3. Kelly Patrick says:

    I love this advice! I am going to try to remember that!

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