Emotions can be a minefield for anyone. But for Mr. Pants they are still pretty confusing. I don't talk about his sensory processing or development here on the blog much anymore. Not because his struggles are gone, but because they are just normal for us now. If you are new to reading this blog you may not know that hisexperience of his senses
is different from yours and mine. His processing and integration of them is different. Unique. Designed for him, by him. And I gotta say, he's kind of nailed it. He is mostly a very comfortable kid.
Recently, though, he has become increasingly stressed by new, loud or busy situations. The upside to his discomfort is that he is finding ways to deal with it. It's an upside because life is big and noisy and change-y. So he needs to discover for himself how best to cope with it. And as his parents we need to allow for him to explore the possibilities without pushing too hard. Instead we gently nudge him out of the comfort zone so that he can do the work he needs to do. We don't force him into uncomfortable situations that don't matter in the long run. Ya know, like a monster truck show. I'm not gonna take him to one of those. Because there are plenty of uncomfortable situations that he does have to figure out. Like gym class. Or coffee hour between church services (see below).
At his I.E.P. meeting
last week they once again told us that he is a solitary little guy and won't initiate play with the kids at school. And I know why. It all comes down to those pesky emotions. It's because he likes the predictability of playing alone. Playing alone allows for him to control the environment and for him to feel safe. Playing alone is not confusing. See he needs to be able to predict as much as possible especially if he is away from his comfort zone (our home). He is still trying to read our emotions and fully understand them so it's too much for him to try and read the kids at school all at once, too. Heck, he's still figuring out his own
emotional responses to life. He needs alone time and he takes it whenever he needs it. He's amazingly self aware for an almost 4 year-old.
But don't get me wrong, he is not disconnected at all. In fact he is all kinds of attached to his family. He expresses his emotions beautifully to us and others he is close with. I just think that he is not ready to share that part of himself with too many other people (and he may never be).
So emotion is still confusing for him. But he's on the case. He attempts to discover how our feelings are working several times a day. "Mama, you happy?"
he will say when he sees that I might not be. "Mama is frustrated right now, bud. But it's ok." "Mama, you be happy soon? You be happy tomorrow? You be fusstated now? You feel hot?"
If I'm reading something and I laugh out loud. "Why you be funny, Mama? You get tickle? You happy? Why, you be funny? Why?"
If he does something funny and I laugh. "No be funny at me, mama. You be happy. No funny!"
If I stub my toe and cry out he will come running (as long as it's not actual crying. That makes him run and hide. Hands over ears). "What happen? You get so mad?" "No bud, I hurt my toe. But I'm OK." "So you get happy now, mama? Oh, you sad? You not happy. You scared, mama?" He's not upset when he asks these questions
. He's even keel. He's almost clinical. Investigating. Like he is socking away reasons, gathering information on how long it takes to be happy again. Then he will go on his way, returning in a few minutes to see how I'm feeling and ask more questions. Often he even stays to quietly observe the change in emotion if it's a new emotion he has yet to get a handle on. It's kind of amazing to watch, really. I call him the research scientist. He is always thinking. Taking notes. Comparing outcomes.
This kid. I used to be afraid for him but I'm not anymore. He shows me every single day that he can figure this life out as it unfolds. It may take him longer. His methods may be unconventional. But hey, if coffee hour between church services is too loud and crowded, who am I to force him out from under that chair? He knows what he is doing.
Coffee hour is too busy and loud for this dude.
"Go away, mama, pweeeeese! No grabby me, Mama. No grabby me." ~Mr. Pants (today)
I wasn't trying to grab him. I was trying to hug him. To help him off the floor where he lay after falling. I wanted to hold him in my arms and kiss his boo-boo. But that's not what he needed. So I walked away but not until I told him I'd be in the next room if he wanted my help. Walking away is mega-tron hard for me. It almost feels like I'm trying to walk through a protection spell on Buffy. Every cell in my body is screaming at me to go scoop that baby off the floor and smother him with my love. But my brain pushes me forward reminding me that it isn't what that baby wants or needs. "There is no blood. There is no broken bone. He asked you to leave him be. Stop being an exposed nerve of weepy feelings and do what your kid needs you to do. Get gone, mama."
The trainer becomes the trainee...
Before I was a mom, I worked with moms and their kids. I also trained staff on how to interact with children. So, if I had a dollar for every time I said the words "Every kid is different", I'd be living in a penthouse overlooking Central Park. It's so very true and logical and obvious and all that. But you know what? I could kick myself in the shins for not developing that idea further. But that knowledge would have come from experience. An experience I was yet to have. Until now.
My kids couldn't be more different. Plum, a social butterfly. Pants, a solitary man. This in and of itself is no trouble at all. I want my kids to be who they are. I respect them for who they are and I actually love that they are so very different yet care so much for each other. So what's the problem? Well, it's me.
I'm an extrovert. I'm huggy and touchy and feely. I talk a lot. Even to people I don't know. I'm a hasher-outer when things get tricky. I wanna discuss and get to the bottom and take care of things. And if my words can't help crate a solution, well, then my loving arms will start a-hugging and I will kiss it all away. Closeness and soft whispers of my love for you will help us both feel better. Right? Right???
For Plum, the answer is an easy and comfortable "Yes! Hug me! Love me with closeness! I feel better!!" But for Pants? Oh hell no. Hell to the OH. HELL. NO. And it makes me nervous and weird and uncomfortable. It goes against my skill set. It makes me have to think of how to parent him all the time. I am always thinking. Always considering tone and eye contact when he gets hurt or in trouble or fights with his sister, over stimulated or is hungry etc etc etc.
Shit, it gets harder...
As a baby this came fairly easy. He was our first and we knew no different so we were able to roll with the punches because we didn't know that it wasn't this hard for everyone. We thought we were just earning our parenting street cred and that eventually we would "get it" and it would all fall into place and we'd hit a stride that made sense. But the more he grows and the more independent he becomes, the more I am challenged to change me. Not him. It should have tipped us off that he was at his most comfortable floating in a bathtub with our hand placed just under his head and no other contact.
He is who he is. And he is just fine being who he is. It's how we parent him that needs adjusting. I need to keep in check my extrovert Loud-y McLoud shorts while trying to parent this amazing and foreign (to me), introverted personality that needs space. He needs room to feel. To be alone. To process the shifts and changes that hit him harder than the rest of us. To relax, center and regulate without my grabby-grabby "come to mama" arms trying to kidnap him. So I have been doing just that. pulling myself back from the instinct to run to him and help. It's face-numbing at times that my version of helping doesn't help him. My way, is not his way. So I am learning. Day to day. I am adjusting and trying new things that feel weird to me but seem to be working for him.
It's a waiting game...
I hate waiting. But this kid makes me wait. Of course he does, right? But if I wait, if I let him process his stress the way he chooses to, he will eventually come to me for that hug. But only if I wait. Only if I respect his needs first. It's funny because I have always believed in listening to and watching your baby for cues. That babies know what they need and that they communicate those needs to you. It is then up to you to pay attention. It is how I mothered both of these babies when they where without words. When I didn't know what they were communicating, I remember thinking that I wished they could just give me a few words to tell me where it hurt or to tell me why they were sad. Well, they have them now. And they tell me all the time. It is still my job to listen. Even when the words are not the ones I want to hear. It's not easy being told to "pweese leave me alone". It smacks me in the heart sometimes. But he's telling me and I wouldn't be doing my job letting him be his own person if I didn't respect that. I might have to glue myself to the chair, but I am learning to wait it out.
In conclusion, I have no idea....
So these days of almost four years old and all the independence it brings are filled with fine lines and constant reminders that even though I grew these two in the same body and they live in the same house with the same parents, it isn't fair to them if we streamline our parenting and force them both to be parented the same. Sure, the basics are the same. The rules are the rules, man. But it's important that we remember that their needs are not same. And shouldn't be treated as such. Now if I could just learn how to predict the future, I could tell you how this all turns out. But alas, that the fun of parenting right? It keeps you on your toes.
To be continued...
image source-linked: digitalmomblog.com
image source-linked: digitalmomblog.com
Are your kids introverts? Extroverts? Both?
I feel lost as a mother.
For the last several weeks Mr. Pants has been an anxious and over-loaded tornado. He is more often than not, a wreck. Uncontrolled. Devestated. Unwound.
His stims have come roaring back. He is side-eyeing, hulking and repeating. Life is so very difficult for him right now.
I have been floundering. Grabbing at straws. Drowning. Daddy too.
Sensory kids are never predictable. Just when you think you have it down, the game changes. Just when you think you have worked through the hardest parts, the parts change. Just when you think you know the score, well, you don't.
I am humbled. I am sad. I am hopeful. I appreciate the fact that we will never have all the answers. Even though I'd like them. Especially during weeks like these.
We are not sure why. We have some ideas.
We are not sure how to work through this. Again, with the ideas.
The old solutions are not working. New ones are met with resistance or escalation.
We will not stay lost. He will not stay in this intense place. And this is how I know...
For weeks he has struggled to be with her. She has been desperate for his company. He has ignored her. Yelled at her. Hurt her. Isolated himself from her. He hasn't been able to deal with her crying or her singing or her dancing. It would send him into a tailspin. I do not know why. Other than it feels like, it's not her. It's not personal. It's any noise or distress or change or anything but quiet solitary being is too much right now. I think.
But not today. Today he loved her. Today he played trains with her. They danced to music together. They read books. And when Mama gave them each a box of raisins to eat while they waited for dinner, this is what happened. He sat with her. His body relaxed. He wanted to be with her. And her little foot drifted onto his leg. I think she was making sure to keep him there.
We will be ok. Mr. Pants will be ok. This sensory shit won't rule this child.
I know because he's already done it. We created a comfortable space for him and he figured out how to move his body through space at the ripe old age of 13 months. And he will again. Only this time, he has a new backer. His baby sister who seems to only grow more and more in love with her big brother everyday.
We will be alright. We will get there. We just need some new ideas. New strategies.
And more raisins.
A Kleenex. A cottonball. Some tea.
I dropped you off this morning and I didn't get a picture. It wasn't going well. You were scared. My heart was breaking. I reminded you that Mama always comes back and you knew I was going to leave this time. You told me, "No, Mama!". I told you that I love you and would see you soon. I walked out but not before your teacher promised me that she would call if you were upset for too long. I waited in the hallway where I knew you couldn't see me. So that I could hear when you stopped crying out for me. It felt like an act of mercy when you did after just a minute. It's funny, that's when I started to cry myself. As I walked down the hall toward the exit, I cried for my big boy, who is still very much my baby. My guy. Today was your first day of pre-school.
I looked down and in my hands was a little baggie. Inside was a cotton ball, a kleenex and a bag of blackberry tea. There was a note.
Dear Preschool Parents,
Here is a little gift for you as you leave your precious one with me on the first day of school. As you hold this cotton ball in your hand, the softness will help you to remember the gentle spirit of your child. After you've gone home and dried your tears, make yourself a hot cup of tea. Put your feet up and relax. Remember that together you and I will work for your child to be the best they can be.
Thank you for entrusting your child to me for the coming school year. I will do my very best every day to be your child's guide in learning and exploring this bright, new world they've just stepped into.
Sincerely, Mrs. K
Dreaming of brother
Well, I think you've probably guessed that mama was a complete mess. It wasn't pretty, dude. I worry about how you will do. I want to know for certain that you will never get your feelings hurt and that no one will ever be mean to you. I want to stand in front of you throughout your whole life and take any pain that comes near you. Any discomfort. And most of all, I want to take every single bit of fear that stirs inside you. But I can't. I have to let you grow. I have to let you get big. I have to drop you off at school and trust that your teacher will care about those things too. I think she does, bud. And that relieves my heart a little.
When I got home today, I couldn't stop thinking about you. I missed you. And someone else did too. I know sometimes she gets into your stuff and that makes you mad, but it's because she just wants to be with you wherever you are. She did today too. She kept looking for you. That made your mama sad too. So I snuggled in close to take a nap with her. Just like I used to with you when it was just the two of us.
When we woke up, I was itching to come pick you up. I wanted to wrap my arms around you and hug you the kind of hug that makes you yell at me for smothering you. "Calm down, Mama!" you would say. "I OK". And we'd head home. I replayed that in my head over and over until it was time to go.
When I got there, I saw you before you saw me. You looked tired. Dog tired. Your teacher was holding your hand and I could tell you felt safe with her. I choked back my tears and moved to where you could see me. You smiled and opened your arms. For a moment it was just us. "Hi, mama" you whispered in my ear. "Hi baby. Did you have fun at school?" "Ah fun ah school! Ah go home, Mama?" You squeezed my neck. My heart almost couldn't take it. I started to think of how fast you were growing as we walked away together. "Can Mama take a picture of you, bud?" You let me. But only one.
Let's go home, mama
We walked to the car. The High School band was playing in the field and you thought that was really cool. I strapped you into the seat. You asked for music. I had it ready
. And I unzipped your bag to see what you had to bring home. They had taken a picture of you. You gave them your best cheese face. And I knew right then that you would be ok. Maybe not next time, but it would come. Because you only give cheese face when you are being silly. And this face? Oh yeah, that's cheese face.
You were in bed by seven tonight, Mr. Pants. Wiped out. It was a big day. I am so proud of you. You are so brave. And you help your mama be brave too. It was your first day of school today, little man. And you nailed it. I love you.
I haven't written much lately about Mr. Pants and his sensory stuff or language development. Because there hasn't been much to report. We do as we do. He patterns up a few times a day but we are pretty successful in pulling him out most of the time. No biggie fry. It may look weird to an outsider but our tools usually work. To me when he throws down with repetition, he is locked. Like a skipping record. And he just needs that little nudge of the needle to move forward but if you nudge too hard you scratch up the record and jump too far ahead. Side note: I wonder how many people under twenty- five are scratching their heads over that comparison. I just dated myself. Le sigh.
He is speaking a lot. Granted a lot of his speech is "scripted", as the SLP would say, but he's talking and I couldn't be happier about that. He will repeat himself a buga-billion
times and I refuse to ever get tired of it. Ok, sometimes it makes my eyeballs twitch but I'm not complaining. He'll say "I cranky, mama. I cranky. I cranky. I cranky. I cranky" (plus fifty more times) and I answer him after each one , "you're cranky, bud?" and then "ok, wanna snuggle" and then, "wanna play with mama" and then "I hear that you are cranky. Are you ok?" and then well you get the point. It's a little insano if you aren't used to it. But I'm used to it. I try to help him move past that first thought. Eventually he stops and we can get past the first line of our conversation. But then, sometimes, he breaks my heart. Most of the time he is fine. It's when he isn't that I feel lost. And I don't know what to do. About ten percent of the time, he loses control and falls into a deep sadness. And then we have to pull out the big guns. Because he can't get unstuck and now he's overwhelmed. And I have to resist the urge to just cry along with him. Because that won't help. Instead, it's tight squeezes, loud whispers in his ear that "it's alright" on repeat, his wubby's, lights off and a bubba. That almost always does the trick. But that's really the hardest part. Beyond that, he is mastering his sensory needs and continuing to stimulate his vestibular system to work for him. I love to watch him run. He is so smooth. So fluid. It is mostly smooth sailing.
Well as smooth as the sailing can be when you are three. Which brings me to my point...
Did you know that three year old tantrums are freaking nuts? I mean, whoa. Pants has reached the tantrum mountain top. Two year old tantrums are like soft baby kitten whispers in comparison. There are times when I am stunned silent by the sheer commitment he will give to a proper tantrum. It is on like Donkey Kong when I interfere in his master plan. But sometimes I have to do just that and brace for the storm (read: run away).
I am not a helicopter mom. I am very
big on choosing battles, letting my kids fall down and not being on top of their decision making but of course, I have to draw some lines. Shutting yourself in the dryer? Sorry dude. I don't think so. Other off limits activities? Swinging from the curtains and going Superfly Snuka
on your sister. Oh and using the bed as a ramp for your ride on cars. I mean
, you'd think the first time he went ass over head, he might have learned it was a bad idea. But you'd be wrong. He didn't learn that. Instead he learned that practice should make perfect. Normally a reasonable conclusion. And one I would encourage if it didn't mean broken bones and stitches. These kids get a whole lot of say in how they live their lil lives, because I think that is super important. But it would also seem that Mr. Pants could care less about how awesome I think that is, and instead would like to remind me that he can bring the world crashing down around us if he so chooses. And well, I'm sure that the neighbors
still hate us very much.
Especially since my newest strategy to end the tantrum is to ignore it. I'll say something simple like, "I'm sorry you are so angry/sad/frustrated/effing pissed. That was not a safe choice. I'll be ready to play/read a book/go outside/eat lunch when you are done yelling" and I walk away/run for my life.
The tantrums are getting a bit shorter. A tiny
bit. But a bit, none the less. So I believe my plan is working. We should be tantrum free in about four years if my calculations are correct. Ten minute tantrums are now down to about nine and half minutes. Nine and a half minutes of ear splitting volcanic crazy. And then he is back. My son returns to me from the edge of doom. A precious lamb (or an indifferent side-eyeing angry tiny human who won't talk to me just yet but who worked some self- regulation magic on himself, sauntered into living room and will get back to me when he can look at me again).
It would seem three is when the forces of evil and good begin warring in each of us. And it is our job as parents to help them get through it. One face exploding tantrum at a time.
On the run. As always.
Now I want to know about how YOU handle tantrums....
A few weeks ago, Daddy and I were talking about this night. We were planning on the best possible situation for staying a night in the hospital with Mr. Pants. "Who do you think should stay with him", I asked. "Before you answer that, you know I won't be able to leave him right? Like it won't be physically possible." I was probably crying the anxiety tears while saying this but I cannot confirm or deny that. Daddy totally understood. Hospitals kind of skeeved him out anyway and we had two babies to arrange for. It seemed the perfect solution that I would stay with Mr. Pants and Daddy would come home to be with Plum.
Well here I sit. At home with Plum. Daddy is pulling the all nighter at the hospital. I'm a mess. But it's ok. It's ok because I picked the right Daddy for my kids. I'm not the only one that brings comfort when they are hurting.
It all started in the pre op waiting. I answered the questions and gave the health history. I talked with the Child Life Specialist and prepared them all for what I predicted would happen. Mr. Pants was scared. Daddy played with him and held him. "No touch!", he yelled at everyone who came within a foot of him. He even went as far as to chastise the RN for listening to his heart. "My back! Not yours!", he told her, letting her know that it was his body and she had no business messing with it. He would be constantly touching his dad. Never leaving him for even a second. They even let Daddy take him to the operating room.
When Daddy came back we both let some tears flow. Fifteen minutes later they were calling us back. The surgery was over.
As we entered (ran to?) the recovery area, he was upset. He really really didn't want that blood pressure cuff. Or the IV. Or the pulse oxygen monitor. The sound of his scratchy voice stabbed through my mama heart and we set out to help calm him. He reached up and saw his daddy first. The nurse told him that he could pick him up and rock him, so that's what daddy did. And Mr. Pants relaxed into him and drifted back off to sleep. This was right about the time I realized that Daddy was The One today.
Daddy makes it better.
It stung, but just for a few minutes. My mama heart wanting to be The One on this day. I took a minute to gather my feelings and I came within seconds of trying to hold the baby one crib over whose mama hadn't made it back yet. But thankfully a nurse picked her up and comforted her right before I lost my marbles and tried to mother her. Focusing back on Mr. Pants and Daddy, I felt my love for both of them start spilling out of me. Daddy's fear of hospitals all but gone. Because his boy needed him. And so we went about the rest of the day caring for the lil dude. He was sad, spacey and hurty. We held him and encouraged him to drink. He asked for pizza but settled for noodles and applesauce.
He didn't want either of us to leave. "Take a seat, mama" he ordered when I tried to hit the bathroom. "Take a seat, daddy" he suggested when daddy tried to do the same. All day we tried to discern what he wanted. Which one of us should stay? It wasn't so clear anymore. We encouraged him to lay down and rest in the crib. He stared off and just seemed so sad.
I hate this crib.
We stood united on the decision to ditch the crib they suggested and request a bed. We signed a waiver that we would never leave him alone in the room (um, duh) and they releneted and gave us a real bed. I mean, we are a bed sharing family. Mr. Pants refused to even lay his head down in that big old crib. He wasn't gonna sleep alone. Not on one of the scariest days of his life. Nope. He needed company. A snuggle buddy. His favorites. Daddy, Thomas and Percy.
And in the end I came to the final conclusion that Daddy was it. It was getting late and grandma, who had been watching Plum, needed to get home. My boobs were about to explode because I had been so wrapped up in this day that I forgot to pump. So I told Mr. Pants that I was going to take care of Plum and that Daddy would take care of him. He seemed pretty cool with that. Especially when they went off on an adventure to the playroom.
He just happens to have the perfect trains for this!
I spoke to the nurses about his pain medication throughout the night. I told them that he needed really cold apple juice and that bringing in ice to make it cold was a good idea. My head almost popped right off as I readied to leave my husband and baby. I repeated myself about fifty times to Daddy about what to do. He didn't roll his eyes once. I didn't want to go. He knew that and he was careful to protect my heart. But Daddy was The One today. And on this scary day for our baby, his needs are more important than mine. So as I left the room to head home, I snapped one last picture. My big guy and my little guy were going off on a flashlight adventure.
I kissed them both and headed home to care for Plum. Who, it turns out, as though she knew I needed an act of mercy, really really needed her mama tonight.
Roaming the hospy with a flashlight
Thank you to everyone who has been thinking of Mr. Pants! I have been so moved by the messages I have recieved and the love shown to our big guy. He is doing great! I can't wait for him to be all healed up and to hear his sweet little voice without those pesky adenoids and tonsils jacking up his airflow. Let the ice cream bonanza begin!
Can you find Mr. Pants?
For the love of all that is holy, I need three more pairs of arms. Yes, six additional arms. That should do it. And I'd like to be able to move them from side to side so that if I need all eight on my left side then I can do that. Or six on one side and two on the other.
Moving on... Today we went to the Ear Nose and Throat specialist (ENT). Mr. Pants has had issues since he was born. Before we ever left the maternity ward with my lil bundle of Pants, I asked the doctor if the rattling sound in his sinuses was normal. I was told it was and that he would outgrow it. The rattling has never gone away and over the last three years, his symptoms have gotten worse. He snores like a fifty year old man, eats like a bird and there are about ten alphabet sounds that when he tries to make them he sounds like he's blowing his nose through them. The rest of his pronunciation sounds like it's coming out of his eyes and nose. The scariest revelation for me though, was about his sleep. I've written before about how poorly he slept as a baby. Waking every forty five minutes to an hour until he was eighteen months old. I'd always attributed that to his sensory issues. But then our doctor asked me if he ever stopped breathing at night. And a cold shot went through my veins. Oh my God. Was he actually stopping breathing? Yeah, we were going to the ENT and we would go to the best. So that's what we did today. And what follows is the play by play....
9:00 am - Arrive for our appointment. Mr. Pants bursts through the doors shouting "Hi GUYSTH!" to everyone waiting. When they do not respond back, he repeats his greeting to them all individually until they say hello back. I sign him in.
9:01 am - Booooooring. Mr. Pants does not care about the fish tank or the silly magnet boards meant to keep him happy. Instead he will begin circuit training and then do fifty laps around the waiting room. Somewhere around lap fifteen he is joined by a two year old boy with balance issues (poor thing was falling all over the place but loving every second of it) and another three year old boy. By lap thirty, two more kids have joined the race and my heart swells with pride that my son has become the Forrest Gump of the ENT's office race. I am also pretty sure that every single parent in the waiting room hates me for this. Such is life. Nobody is crying.
9:30 am - Plum is pissed. Pants is trying to rip the art of the walls and I have that look on my face like everything is Zen. But everything is not Zen and I want to start cussing out the staff and ripping the art off the walls alongside my son.
9:40 am - Let the great bathroom massacre of 2012 begin! Or at least I'm sure that's what it sounded like to the people on the other side of the door.
10:15 am - Yep. You read that right. An hour wait past our appointment time. As we head back, Pants asks me for the seven thousandth time if we are going camping. I remind him we are going to see the doctor and he says "You're Welcome". Um, ok?
10:16 am - Pants believes the nurse is trying to force him into an alternate dimension by asking him to "step on the scale". He doesn't budge and instead makes a break for it. But since he is in an unfamiliar environment, he trips and falls rounding the corner. Jumping up he yells, "I OK!!" and saunters back to be weighed. (note: this will be the last time he comes back on his own)
10:30ish am - Enter Dr. M. Plum is not cool with this. Not. At. All. She proceeds to lose her GD mind. A sweet nurse comes in to try and help her so that I can hold Mr. Pants for the exam. By the end, my ears are ringing and we are off to x-ray. Dr. M. proclaims his tonsils "extremely large" and has "no doubt" the x-ray will show his adenoids to be big too.
10:35-11:10 am - A blur of screaming children and hallway chases. When we finally get into x-ray, I experience a moment of extreme sadness trying to reassure Mr. Pants that no one would hurt him while he is being held down for an x-ray of his head while listening to Ms. Plum scream in the arms of the very sweet nurse on the other side of the door. I almost lose my cool with the x-ray tech who gets salty with me about holding him still. This is the second time in one week I have had to do this. It sucks. They are scared and I haven't been trained in this. And my kids are tiny Hulks. Like for realz. So why in the hell would any x-ray tech get salty with me for not knowing how to do it? Beats me. And I almost beat her. But alas, I did not. I just did my best to hold my crazy strong kid still for a picture of his face. However, it is entirely possible though that I shot dagger eyes right into hers. At which time she may have realized she was being an asshat and calmed down. Suddenly becoming the sweetest tech in the world. And we got the x-ray. Which turned out to be the creepiest picture of my child ever taken. And that's saying something because we have some dooozies. See for yourself below.
11:15ish am - Back in the exam room, Mr. Pants choses a very normal spot to sit and wait. Under the sink. Duh.
11:20 am - Re- enter Dr. M. His first words are, "He is going to be fine" and I know he's about to tell me that Pants needs surgery. And then he does. As he explains the x-ray to me, I see it. Loud and clear. His adenoids are completely blocking his airway and his tonsils are almost doing the same. Double whammy. Any infection or additional swelling is very dangerous for my boy. So they have to come out so that this kid can breathe normally, maybe even eat better (OMG YES!) and more importantly, well, you know I'm not typing that.
Can you see it? You should be able to see space for airflow. Can't really see a whole lot of open space can you?
11:30 am - We are scheduling surgery and Plum wants to nurse. She lets me know this by attempting to climb into the topside of my shirt while smacking her lips like there's a cheeseburger in there. So I begin nursing her. She really needs it, poor thing. I'm nursing, I'm signing papers and scheduling surgery and feeling like a superhero when....Mr. Pants decides to kick things up a notch and add trespassing to his record. He breaks for the door, hurdles over the stroller that I thought would slow him down long enough but um, yeah, I'm an idiot. By the time I get Plum (who is crazy pissed to be pulled from her cheeseburger) back into the stroller and give chase, Pants has made it to the super secret file room. I see him staring at the miles of files. I can see with absolute clarity the plan forming to destroy these files. He's just figuring out how he wants to go about it. This buys me the few seconds I need to reach him. Hauling him back kicking and screaming, a worker says to me "You have your hands full" to which I want to say, "Way to state the obvious, jerk face" but I smile and say, "yeah, long day". I notice the guy then stations himself at the opening of the file room while I finish my paperwork and feel glad that I didn't snap at him. He is trying to help. I feel some shame for hating him.
11:45 am - Surgery is scheduled (we have to wait until July for the best surgeon) and we hit the fresh air of the open parking deck. It's over. We lived. I change Plum's diaper, nurse her some more (after strapping Pants into his seat, of course) and we hit the road for home. Two sleepy kids and one zoned out mama.
12:00 pm - Begin worrying about my baby boy having surgery.
The bus is coming!
Literally jumping onto the bus
Slow down. You move too fast. You got to make the morning last. Just kickin' down the cobblestones. Lookin' for fun and feelin' groovy....
I've been singing it to myself ever since I put Mr. Pants on the bus this morning. My misty eyes are reminding me that I had better love every second of this. In just a few weeks, Mr. Pants will be three. And after a summer of camping and growing up big, he will start preschool. Like for real, preschool. Right now he attends two mornings a week at a program for children with developmental delays. He loves it so so much. And he loves riding the bus. Like he dreams about it. When he wakes in the morning the first words out of his mouth are often "Ah Bu-thn?" Which is "On bus?". I think he's going to really love preschool too.
We decided to go ahead and send him to the city preschool. He will go two days a week but for six hours each day instead of two and half. It will be a long day. But after much thinking and re-thinking we've decided it's a good idea. All of his current teachers, Miss Mary Beth and his specialists recommend that he move up to a preschool filled with typically developing children so that he can learn from his peers. It sounds like a good idea. And most of me thinks it will be a year of great strides for him. But there is a small voice that is scared. Today I am beating back that small voice and putting it in a choke hold. We will give this a go. I can always pull him out if it isn't going well.
We meet to set his IEP goals next week and I have a list. I know that they will want to work on his fine motor skills. This kid can scale a rock wall but he can't hold a pen. Or give a thumbs up. True story, if you give Pants a thumbs up he will return a pointed finger at you and say "OH YEAH!!". Basically he does his best Randy "Macho Man" Savage impression. And when you give him the double thumbs up, he returns with a double point. Makes me smile every time. But it's also telling of his fine motor delay. So is the frustration he experiences when he can't make his fingers cut with scissors. So we will keep working on that. Because I want to be able to read his handwriting when he leaves me counter notes telling me where he is going to be during his moody teen years. Also on the list for the IEP? Eating, playing safely and talking. And I do think that being surrounded by kids that talk will encourage him to give it a go more often. Peers can be great motivators. So that's our plan. To give it a whirl.
This morning it occurred to me that sometimes I think about it all too much. I analyze and go over it in my head and drive myself nuts. Hoping and wishing things for him. Wondering if the kids at his new school will like him. Wondering if his teacher will appreciate his unique take on things. Thinking, thinking, thinking. But today as I walked him down to the bus (a privilege that is usually Daddy's), I realized that someday soon he's not gonna want us to wait at the bus stop with him. Or worse he's gonna drive out of the driveway himself. So I needed a reminder to stop thinking so much about all of this and just let it ride. And today at the end of the driveway, we waited for the bus and sang songs. In that five minutes, I saw that my baby boy was getting bigger and more awesome by the second. He jumped onto the bus and blew me kisses goodbye. And as I strolled Plum back up to the house, I cried some happy tears. This kid is amazing. He's crazy cool and funny and smart. And no amount of school can teach that. He did that all on his own. He's just fine. Even if he ends up writing in chicken scratch.
Come this August, Mr. Pants is gonna take the school system by storm. Because today Mr. Pants was approved for an Individulaized Education Plan (IEP) through the school district. Which is such a blessing for us because we would struggle to get him the speech and occupational therapy he needs without one. As I sat down to to the table to discuss their findings today, I expected to hear about his need for speech and occupational therapies. They had gone to observe him in his early intervention classroom for several days and from what I understand, he loaded them up with tons of Pantsinese conversation and side eyed them frequently while sauntering by. I am very familiar with the saunter by side-eye. It's one of my absolute favorite things he does. I know from this description that he was observing them, not the other way around. He was taking note of their likability and trustworthiness before deciding to interact with them. That's my boy.
His scores came back exactly how I knew they would. Off the charts in gross motor development and low in speech, fine motor and adaptability. But there was a catagory that I didn't expect.
He scored extremely high in "atypicality". Bwahahaha! Well of coarse he did. He's not your typical kid. I could have told them that. I hadn't known they would be scoring him on his unique-ness from the other kids his age. But it cracked me up that they did. "What does that mean?", I asked between laughs (because I knew exactly what it meant). She chose her words carefully, "Well, just that....his behaviors...are.....different from other kids his age". She was afraid this would upset me. Of coarse it did not. I know full well that my kid is totally bizzaro. And that it might be something that school personel might feel the need to rein in. But that we love about him. And his future teacher sitting next to me, smiled. I think she will to. She was the only one at the table that had yet to meet Mr. Pants. But I'll be keeping a close eye on her. Because while I know that he needs to adapt in certain areas to be successful in school, this mama will not take kindly to anyone trying to take that part of him and change it. I cannot for the life of me think of why anyone would want to.
There are plenty of typical people in this world. I mean, seriously. Mr. Pants has more creativity in his pinky finger than I do in my whole body. And Daddy and I just love him that way. Cause he's a cool cat. And come this Fall, he's bringing a new brand of typical to pre-school. And I have a feeling that he's gonna kick ass and take names.
Typical is overrated
Don't worry, mama. I got this.
Today Daddy put little dude on the bus for school with a back pack full of paper work for the school district's psychologist. She will be observing him today and deciding if he qualifies for an individualized education plan (I.E.P.). And if I know my boy like I think I do, he will charm the hell out of her. And I am also certain that she will be side eyed, sauntered to and spoken to in Panstinese. There was a time when testing made me insane with worry
. What if they think something is wrong with him? What if they think I'm a crappy parent. What if they find out that he still sleeps with us and try to tell us that he's too big for that? What if they judge him for still needing a bubba to get to sleep? There's something super awesome about not caring about that stuff anymore. As I filled out the seven hundred and fifty million questions about my kid, Daddy and I couldn't help but laugh. "When you say 'seven, two', does your child repeat the sequence back to you?". Ummm, no. He looked at me like I was from Mars as if to say, "Mom, you are so wrong. It's seven, eight". "When you look in the mirror and say 'Where's Mr. Pants?', does your child point to his image in the mirror?". Ummmm, no. He points to his car and says, "CAR!".
"When you ask your child, 'Are you a boy or a girl', does he respond correctly". Bwahahaha! Um, no. He stared at me blankly and proclaimed himself a robot. And on and on and on.
Daddy and I ended up laughing so hard about some of the questions that we actually cried. Our kid cracks us the eff up. I mean, he saunters around here like he's the king of the place and he kind of is. What a world away that is from how we felt about all the other testing. How we were so nervous and scared that our boy was different. That in some way he would be treated differently by the world. By his peers. Because he is different.
But he has taught us something that I now will apply to his entire life. He taught me to trust him. He taught me to stop being such an adult and just let go of his reins a bit. That he had a plan. And I can see his plan so clearly now. His plan is to just be himself. With an astounding amount of confidence. To saunter around and do his thing. And you know what? Things are happening for him. He's made a friend. A kid his age that he chose to be his friend. A little boy at school. Apparently they've been considering friendship for seven months now. Watching each other. Studying each other. And recently they took the big step of becoming friends. And now they can not be seperated. I can not even express what that does to me. It makes my face hurt from smiling about it. There was a time when I was unsure that he could make friends outside of his family (and his best friend cousin, A). But as it turns out, I just had to let him do his thing. And he is most definitely doing his thing.
Does it make me an A-hole for being giddy about the "popular" part?
So bring it on, new testing! Mr. Pants is more than ready. He's blossomed so much in this last year. He's come into his own. In his own time. With a little help from his family and his awesome teachers. But mostly it's all him. He's got this in the bag. And sure, he probably needs this I.E.P. for a little bit, but it aint no thing. It just means he will have a chance to keep kicking ass at pre-school. It means that he will have the speech and occupational therapy help he needs and the social interaction that has pulled him out of his solitary man (Neil Diamond
!) shell. He believes in himself. I can see it. And as his mama, I can not think of anything I want more for him than that. He really believes in himself. Hot damn, that is awesome.
Saunter on, little man. Saunter on. Mama and Daddy are cheering for you. Now go show that psychologist how it's done in your world. I have a feeling she's gonna get a kick out of you. It's kind of impossible not to.