Monthly Archives: September 2012

Closer to Normal?

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Every day, we trudge closer to normal.  Closer to a condo that is no longer ours and a house of our own.  Closer to regular routines.  But, along the way…  Well, there have been some abnormalities.  Like yet another delay in the closing of our condo.  We are assured that it will be this week; and we feel as if we have no choice but to believe it.  For the most part, I do.  But I think the email we receive saying the clear to close has been issued will feel surreal; I’m sure I will have to read it at least a dozen times (saying extra prayers that it is first thing tomorrow morning).

And then there is the really abnormal.  The stuff you need to write about to try to process it but just can’t seem to find the words.  And the stress of it all compounds until you think normal will never come.  There will never be a time when your husband doesn’t ask, “So, do you think we’re ever going to close on this house?”  In fact, he’s asked me twice while I’ve been typing.  A time when, despite all the wonderful parts of being home, you wonder if it will stop feeling like a perpetual nightmare with regard to real estate and pre-school transitions?  Because, yes, there was another issue there.

It’s been resolved and isn’t something I care to write about beyond for myself personally.  But I still can’t help feel unsettled by it.  And responsible for it.  And just generally conflicted.

When you look at everything piece by piece, it seems manageable.  Maybe even petty.  But compounded?  Almost insurmountable.

1.  House in Boston was supposed to close over a month ago.  It hasn’t.  We feel like it never will.

2.  We can’t close on our house here until the condo in Boston closes.  See above.

3.  Still living in parents’ basement.  Which is wonderful because there is always someone to help with Robbie and share chores with.  But, it’s hard to move home again.

4.  I have no actual idea where anything I own is.  Everything that we “needed” for two months is shoved in our basement bedroom and small storage closet.  And then we find more things that we “need.”  What I need is a house where I can put them, particularly the one we are waiting to buy with it’s ample closet space.  See number 1 and 2 above.

5. Pre-school drama abounds.  Surely we are past it all now.  Teacher conference.  Administration conference.  No incident reports for two weeks.  Close to potty trained.  At least this one appears to be alleviating, despite a traumatic week for Justin and myself last week.

6.  A former Crawford student died.  Now, I did not know this child.  But everyone around me did.  And I felt hopeless to help.  And greatly reminded of how precious life is.

It would definitely make for a riveting mini-series…

Confronting It…

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Robbie had his first OT appointment today.  It was, well, I don’t know.  I spent the first half of the appointment trying to explain problems with Robbie, sometimes unsure of exactly how to answer the question.  It was an odd position to be in because I’m usually the one telling people about their children.  And, to make matters worse, I was stumbling over words and giving what felt like rambling answers.  I oscillated between feeling like I needed to be honest about my child’s behavior and fighting a desperate need to explain that, despite some of the behavior patterns we see, he is a sweet, kind little boy.  Besides, I’m extremely self-conscious when someone writes down what I say – you’ve all seen the Far Side cartoon where the shrink writes, “Just plain nuts”, right?

And then it was time for Robbie to perform some tasks.  It was difficult watching him.  Do I encourage him?  Do I sit quietly?  Robbie stacked blocks, unsuccessfully made a pyramid, placed small beads in a jar.  He traced a line, failed to recreate a drawing of two lines, and cut a paper in half on the line.  He folded paper and tried to cut out a circle (which was really just a line when he was done with it).  Robbie was supposed to lie on his stomach but spent five minutes pretending to be a spider.  And there I sat, unsure of when to intervene, unsure of what it all really meant.

I’m still figuring out what it means.  But, we’ll figure it out.  Robbie starts OT next Monday and will be going once a week.  I’m lucky because his therapist is a friend who can help me process everything, even if it’s outside of our appointments.

I am slowly realizing that everyone has their setbacks.  Be it speech or reading or math or mobility or sensory.  And we’ll get through this.  And Robbie will be OK.  And I can still be a good mom.  Because perhaps that’s the part that bothers me most: I wonder how much of this reflects on me as a mother.  I know that, in all reality, it doesn’t.  Robbie is my first child; it would make sense that I would think some behaviors were a stage.  But, I can’t help but wonder why I didn’t see it as more than a stage.  What could I have done to avoid it?

I know the answers to all of these questions.  And I know I’m a good mother.  But, that’s what a mother does, right?  Constantly question and critique herself, and only more so when it turns out that her perfect baby isn’t so perfect.  And then learn to accept it and work to make things right again.  I think I can do that – one step at a time.

 

 

Color Blind?

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Justin and I were thrilled when Robbie finally started naming colors in English.  Especially when he started getting them right.  Until he started labeling everything he saw.  Including people.

It’s happened a few times – Robbie pointing and shouting, “Look!  Black!”  In public.  Loudly.

Justin was with him the first time it happened at a restaurant.  Then it happened at Kids Place.  And then tonight – at the mall.

I have no idea how to actually deal with this.  I’ve spoken to Robbie.  I’m not so sure that he gets the idea of race, and I wonder if it’s because he was mostly around Asians and white people in Massachusetts.  So, much to my chagrin, I have started trying to point out other colors when he starts shouting, “Black!”

I’m not sure how long that will work…  Or how to deal with it a little better.  Any suggestions?

New Beginnings

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It’s difficult when your beliefs as a parent begin to collide with those of your profession.  In school, I tell students who complain about teachers that they have to learn to get along with people they don’t like; it’s a part of life.  As a parent, well, I’m not so sure.

Now, I loved Robbie’s teacher.  I thought she was fantastic and really enjoyed speaking with her.  Maybe that’s why I hesitated to request a move.  Robbie needed to learn how to deal with a variety of people.  And, given his minimal experience in school, the behavior had to be coming from him.  He would behave that way in any class.  Right?

Not so much.  After signing well over ten incident reports in three weeks, I wasn’t so sure.  In fact, I was growing concerned that Robbie wasn’t being caught before he did something.  If he didn’t know what he was about to do wrong, how could he know when to correct it?  It seemed like we were in a vicious cycle, and, other than the kids on the receiving end, Robbie was going to be the real victim.

As a teacher, I would encourage him to figure it out (I know; he’s only three).  As a parent, I was terrified my child would be labeled a troublemaker and would then do the only thing he could: live up to the label.  I couldn’t let that happen.

It was a chance conversation.  And luck had it that there was an opening in the other three-year-old room.  So, last week, Robbie started spending a few hours every day with Mr. Alex.  Amazingly, there were no incident reports.  And this week?  He started full time.  Still no incident reports and no accidents.  That’s right!  Mr. Alex put Robbie in underwear instead of a diaper, and Robbie didn’t have any accidents.  Who knew?  Now if only we can keep it up!

Smiling

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Most afternoons, when I pick up Robbie, there is a blue paper for me to sign.  An incident report.  For a child he has pushed, hit with a truck, or, well, you get the picture.  And every day, my face falls a little and Robbie asks me if I’m sad.  All I can do is sigh and say, “Yes, Mommy’s sad.”

Today, I approached the playground expecting a blue sheet.  Instead, his teacher came over with a big smile on her face and Robbie sprinted across the playground toward me, throwing himself at my knees in a huge hug.  Nervous, I asked how the day had gone.

“He was perfect today.  Robbie said he wanted to make you smile today.”

With tears in my eyes, I reached down to pick up my sweet little boy.  He gave me a hug and a kiss and asked, “You happy today, Mommy?”

Yes, Robbie.  So incredibly happy and so full of love for the wonderful, sensitive little boy you are.

SPD

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Sometimes Parenting’s Difficult?  Although true, not the meaning in this case.  Remember how Justin and I were called in for a teacher conference the fifth day of school?  And she said she thought Robbie had sensory issues?  And I wanted to ignore it and pretend it was from moving and being in pre-school instead of daycare?  Well, two weeks later, here we are.  At SPD – Sensory Processing Disorder.

Yesterday, I filled out a questionnaire about Robbie and a friend who is an occupational therapist scored it.  The results speak for themselves.  As I read the questions, I found myself recognizing idiosyncrasies that, alone, did not add up to much.  But, all on a page like that?  Overwhelming.  Accident prone – he’s hit the same spot on his forehead 20 times; he trips over his own feet; he falls off chairs and stools.  He likes to spin in circles – but panics if someone spins him, especially upside-down.  He doesn’t pull up pants that are sagging, which lead me to the discovery that my child should be able to dress himself.  But he can’t.  Panicking when he gets his hair cut.  Never opting for a quiet activity.  All the difficulty and frustration with potty training.  There were pages and pages of questions, and I found myself checking “frequently” and “always” much more often than I had hoped.

Part of me feels an immense relief that there is a reason for all of this.  In fact, as I realized all the symptoms Robbie had been presenting, I felt as if someone had just handed me the answer key to the past 18 months of my life.  Robbie’s aggressiveness isn’t because he is mean.  His inability to focus and calm down isn’t because he has ADHD (a common misdiagnosis of SPD, which I have learned from my crash-Internet course in the subject).  And, even better, there is something we can do about it.  Robbie will start occupational therapy as soon as possible.  I have to be honest, it feels nice to have an explanation (which is not an excuse) for his behavior.

The other part of me wanted to curl up in a ball and cry.  How could I not notice all of these signs?  And if I had, what in the world would I have thought they meant?  Had I done something wrong to “give” Robbie these sensory issues?  Too much TV?  Handing my iPhone over too often at a restaurant? Drinking caffeine and using aspartame while I was pregnant? (Again, from my crash course, the answer here is no.)

After I finished worrying about myself, I focused a little more on Robbie.  Justin and I will have to work with his teachers (who are, blessedly, onboard with anything we suggest and determined for Robbie to have every skill necessary to be successful in kindergarten) and therapist to be consistent in implementing recommendations and strategies.  But, what else could it mean for Robbie?  I don’t want him to be the little boy no one wants at their house because they don’t feel they can watch him (to quote Zhining, “Must watch this boy every minute.  Always so busy.”).  Or the boy no one wants to be friends with.

Here I was, the woman who lectures her husband about getting all the information and processing one set at a time, nervous that my child would have an IEP before he could even say the word kindergarten.  And, although I pray early intervention will be enough to get him through this, he may.  And that’s OK.  Some of my favorite people in the world have IEPs and they all turned out pretty fabulous.

Lazy Blogging…

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I’m sure you have been waiting on pins and needles for blog posts from me.  And, yet, they haven’t come.  On top of all the changes in the past six weeks, I just couldn’t blog.

Moving home has been wonderful.  We will have a beautiful house soon.   We are around family and have help with Robbie.  I’ve even been able to run errands on my own.  And have a whole day to myself when my sister took Robbie to the lake for the day.

But it has also been more stressful than I could have imagined.  The closing on our condo has been delayed (two more weeks at the latest!).  Which put back the closing of our house in Lexington (it was supposed to be next Tuesday).  Robbie has had a difficult time adjusting to pre-school.  We are in limbo, living in my parents’ basement until our houses close.

And so, at the end of the day, with no real structure or schedule, I’m just too tired.  But, really, I am going to try.  I promise.

My Pre-Schooler

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So…  It didn’t take long for us to get our first call from Robbie’s teacher.  Five days.  But, yesterday, during my planning period, I got a phone call.  Mrs. Smith assured me that Robbie was safe and fine, but she wanted to talk.  Immediately, I thought of all the things my sweet boy could have done.  Language.  Pushing.  Hair pulling.  But he always behaves so much better for other people…  Right?

Apparently pre-school is the exception to this rule.  Mrs. Smith was quick to tell me how much they all adore Robbie and how funny he was.  But he also has a difficult time calming himself down when going into an environment that is a little more exciting – like music, Spanish, the playground, or (horror of horrors) chapel.  He also doesn’t like other kids being in his personal space when this is happening.

Concerned about our child and his potential for success (after all, if we are failing him at three, how can we possibly help him be successful later?), we headed into school for a meeting with Mrs. Harris.  And there we sat, Justin and myself in the big chairs, and Mrs. Smith, perched on a pre-school chair.  I know my child isn’t perfect.  In fact, I might be the first person to tell you that.  But it’s quite a different story when someone else is throwing this information your way.  Particularly someone who has known your child for six days.

Now, I am not dismissing what Robbie’s teacher had to say.  In fact, she may be accurate.  However, I do not think it is appropriate to make any sort of recommendations on a child after six days without first implementing new behavior strategies.

Of course, I wrote – and failed to publish – this two weeks ago.  We have continued to work on Robbie’s transition…  Oy!