Monday, July 26, 2010

How to tell if a child....

LittleMan constantly challenges himself with dare-devil jumping tricks, and sometimes he gets hurt.  Today my brother and his wife took the kids to their neighbor's son's 5th birthday party.  They returned LittleMan with a black and blue bruise on his right cheek bone.  He had jumped off a swivel chair that projected him into a wooden coffee table. Ouch!
I gave him some Arnica, but started getting worried he suffered a concussion since he seemed overly calm and tired at home.  Meaning that he was just sitting on the sofa... he NEVER just sits.  He fell asleep on the sofa so I'm hoping that he is just tuckered out from the party.  I started to google "how to tell if a child has a concussion" when google auto-populated mid sentence with some striking searches.  See the screen shot:
The emotions loaded in each of these searches stopped me in my tracks.  I can feel the hopes, the fears, the concern and uncertainty of the parents as they type.  I went through each line and put myself in the place of that parent.  I think that Google puts them in order of most-searched up at the top.  So imagine how many parents are out there thinking that their little one is so special, more special than other kids.  That's awesome and dually pretentiously rotten.
What is disturbing is how many abused and molested varieties of searches there are on the list.  We live in a sad and demented world.
There are two psychological disorder questions, autism and ADHD, their presence on the list confirming their rise in prevalence in our country.
The last one on the list jolted me.  I know that probably there are a bunch of men out there in wacky relationships, doubting the word of their girlfriend or that chick they hooked up with.  But my mind went to the faithful father, who stood by his lover/girlfriend/wife through the pregnancy and birth.  Now the kid is growing up and he just feels that something isn't completely right.  He hesitantly types the words into the search box, almost afraid of what will pop up in return.
As impersonal as it is to pass like ships on the dark webbed sea, it feels almost like violating privacy to reach this level of intimacy with the parents who posed those searches.  
There are so many stories packed in that search box.  By stumbling on it I feel like I crossed paths with strangers, sharing the road for a moment; like driving next to someone on the highway and glancing at their car.  I'll never know where they are going or what is their destiny.  But I get a glimpse into a moment of life, a second of thoughts, a gigabyte electronic connection from node to node.  Wherever you are out there, we are all searching under the same fair white screen, all searching for something.  From one parent to another, I hope you find what you need.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mutiny! The Rebellion Begins

My kids are starting to collaborate together as partners in deviance against their mother.  The first sign was on Monday at an evening picnic.  The kids had been playing on the swings and slide for an hour while my girlfriend and I tried to figure out how to start bbq charcoals without our men around.  When the chicken finally cooked, I asked the kids to sit at the picnic bench.  They usually sit at the table at dinner time and know to do that, so this shouldn't have been an issue.  But the playground was so close and beaconing.  LittleMan tried to escape first and I called him back to the table with the extra encouragement of special Paleo brownies after dinner.  Then GirlFriend decided she was done and made a break for it.  She was not coming back with my words so I started to go fetch her when LM grabbed my arm and tried to hold me back.  I paused and thought about what was happening... was he trying to stop me from getting her? helping her avoid capture?  I had to laugh because that would be so cute.  I said, "LittleMan are you aiding you sister's descent?" "You guys are teaming up against me!"  He got a kick out of it.  I pretended like he was strong enough to really hold me back for a bit.  We all thought it was funny.  But also the start of trouble.
Then this evening after getting home from daycare something similar happened again. GirlFriend climbed out of her car seat like David Copperfield and into the front seat to take a turn driving the car.  Then she found my makeup in the center console.  I had to pull her out of the car because it would have been too messy an affair and too expensive to replace.  She was very upset that she couldn't play with the makeup and decided to run away.  Oh dear, here is a preview into the teenage years.  She ran to the edge of our yard, stopped, looked back at me, took a couple steps father, looked back at me... My arms were full with their lunch boxes and shoes.  I asked LM to go grab her.  He pretended that he didn't hear me and took off running in the other direction.  I found him by the garage and asked him again to go get her, "Go get your sister. Go get her.  Go ahead."  I knew that she would go with him but she might run away from me.  So he started to fulfill my request but then decided to try to knock the driveway lamppost over instead.  lol.  I realized that they were doing it again; teaming up to help keep the other one out of trouble.  GirlFriend was getting bored that I wasn't pursuing her so she make a tactical adjustment.  She cut across the yard to the driveway and started going down the driveway towards the street.  LittleMan was still just letting her go.  I dropped the bags and ran to her.  When I arrived she had a huge grin on her face, the kind that is so cute that you can't help but smile too.  I picked her up and headed inside saying, "mutiny!  I can't believe it.  mutiny against me!"  I made LittleMan carry the bags as penalty for not following my directions and getting his sister.  He didn't mind so I bet he thought the short lived revolution was worth the punishment.

Monday, July 19, 2010

1,2,3 Success

For the longest time LittleMan has been counting "1,3,4,5" skipping the 2.  I finally broke down and bought him They Might Be Giants Here Come the 1,2,3's since I like their album Science is Real so much for being educational kids music that adults can rock to too.   I was hoping that the DVD would help teach him to count.  He can count out slowly if you point at each item, but if you just flat out ask him "how many are there?" he always skips the 2.  So I got him this DVD from Amazon and it arrived today.  I put it on in the car, yup our wagon has a DVD player, and the kids watched it on the way to the park.
To my fantastic surprise at the play ground he started counting the bars on the monkey bars "1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8!"  Now there were only 6 bars, so we still have some things to work on.  But at least he didn't skip the 2 this time!
We had a very full day, starting with a trip to Great Falls park, lunch, a visit with my sister-in-law's great grandma and her friendly iguana, then a picnic at a playground with some friends.  We got stuck in night construction traffic on the way back and didn't get home until 10pm.  GirlFriend was asleep and had a poopy diaper!  I tried my best to change it without waking her up.  She was sleeping on her belly though so i had to put the diaper on backwards.  lol.  I'm doing my best, I really am, but sometime/most of the time things feel out of control.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Feeling the Need to Cut the Cord with Work

Today was a challenge; the first day being at home where I really felt overwhelmed and out of control.  Is it because I'm surfing the crimson wave and my hormones are a flux?  Is it because I had a dentist appointment and so didn't get to do a morning fun activity with the kids?  Is it because the family is fighting off a cold and thus not at its best?  Is it because my work responsibilities are caving in on my day with the kids?
I guess it could be all or a mix.  Today was off the rocker.  Since returning home from my morning dentist appointment things did not stop.  I couldn't even take time for a bathroom break.  I was buckling the kids in the car seat, running around finding LittleMan's Thomas train, leading them through the shopping mall to the play area; all while talking on the phone in a meeting.  Then, when we got home I rushed to make lunch pronto, while keeping the kids at the table, and responding to emergency emails.  I was in a time crunch to put them down for nap in time for an important 2pm meeting.  It felt insane.  All I could think was, "This is not working out.  I'm dumb to be living like this.  I want to quit and move to a farm out west where I can focus on the kids and not worry about stupid software."
So that was my conclusion from today.  But, it seems pretty rash.  I mean, it is nice to make money and be saving for retirement and stuff.  But geeze, I need to stop having meetings on my days with the kids.
No quiting my job yet because the dentist this morning told me that I need thousands of dollars of work on my teeth.  He's a holistic dentist and he said that my neck and back pain is being caused by problems with my bite, which was caused by braces!  Man, I'm so pissed at the world for screwing with children like me: giving us candy, and braces, and mercury fillings without regard.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Learning to Conquer Life's Challenges

GirlFriend is determined and persistent.  She'll put on her clothes and shoes by herself already.  If you start to brush her hair, she snach the brush from you and start doing it herself.  
LittleMan has trouble with some things.  He gets frustrated easily, gives up, and asks for help pretty much every time when putting on shoes and clothing, applying stickers and doing things that require dexterity and a sequence of steps.  Those are difficult for him and he would be happier never trying and just having someone else do them for him forever.    
So I'm working on coaching LittleMan past his insecurities so that he wont give up so easily.  Saturday he accomplished a major break through.  I have been looking for captivating online computer games.  We've gone through , , , , Starfall is my favorite because it is free from commercialization.  It was great for him when he was learning his ABCs.  Now he's just not so interested in the reading games, probably because he is more spacial than verbal.  The pbskids site is too difficult for him to navigate still.  The Thomas and Friends site has a coloring game, where you can select a color and then paint the trains in those colors.  But for some dumb reason they don't let you paint the number on the side of the Thomas Engine, it is fixed white.  Whoever made that decision must not have been a Thomas Fanatic, because LittleMan protested right away that he couldn't color the '1' yellow.  And it drove him bonkers trying to make it yellow.  We had to stop that game.
So the newest find has been a "Build an Engine" game on the sprout site.  This game, as usual, was really tough for him.  You have to select a train piece from one area and drag the piece on top of an outline of the Thomas train, then release the piece in the right spot.  If you release it in the wrong spot, then a bad buzzer noise sounds.  If you get it in the right spot, then a jolly chime rings.  
It was so tough for him to understand how to pick the pieces up, drag them, and then let them go - all while being careful to get them in the perfect spot.  Every time that he would error, he almost cried and begged me to help him.  Last weekend I helped him every single time, mostly with grabbing the pieces and then letting them go (He could drag and position the pieces on his own).  He just could not get the concept of letting the pieces go.  He would position them and then ask me to help drop them.  I told myself to be patient with him, 'coach him through it so that he still enjoys the activity, don't worry that he's not getting it this time, next time he'll probably get it.'
And he did!  This afternoon I fired up the game.  He grabbed one of the pieces -repeating the trick i taught him "land on it like an airplane."  He dragged it to the right spot, and let go "neeeehhhh!" the game made the nasty  'wrong' beep.  I saw him deflate and he asked for help.  I told him to try again, 'land like an airplane' I edged him on.  I could see his frustration bubbling and self esteem sinking.  But, he tried again and he got it!  There came the 'ding' you-got-it-bell.  He was so pleased!  I started clapping, the baby started clapping, he wanted Mari to come and see his accomplishement too.  He wore the proudest smile that I've ever seen.  Even more proud than when he finishes a puzzle.  In his smile i could see how much winning the game meant for him.  It was a turning point in his eyes where he realized that with practice and perseverance he could achieve difficult tasks on his own.  He beat the game about fifty times that day! 

Friday, July 9, 2010

All my Energy

I find myself completely focused on my kid all the time with almost every action I take.  I make meals based on what he prefers, go on outings to destinations that I think he'll enjoy, buy and make things that he'll like.  It is favoritism, I know it.  I don't focus that much energy on anyone else, not even myself.  It is a good thing that GirlFriend is so low maintenance, because I just don't have more attention to go around.  It's crazy how much of my life revolves around his needs and trying to engage him in activities, teach him things, and watch him react.
Since I have started my new schedule of staying home with the kids two days week, they have grown noticeably more attached to me.  LittleMan doesn't want to sleep in his bed alone at night anymore.  He wants to stay with me and sleep in bed with us.  GirlFriend cries on the days that I go to work early, and when I get home she clings to me. Then I carry her around as I used to when she was a baby.
These are unintended side effects of increased quality time with mama.  Maybe I need to curb their attachment and push them back towards independence.  But for now, I don't mind being appreciated more.

Check out the M & D Victorian doll house that I scored for $40 on CL.  Both the kids like playing with it, but especially GirlFriend:  she's such a girl!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Special Education Services

I have not blogged about this much but for the past month I've been going through the process of getting LittleMan tested for developmental delays.  People who are close to him and experienced with kids have been hinting too me that he is very different from the other kids and having trouble.  He is only three years old, but early therapy is supposed to help.  I began pursuing a free evaluation through the county, which started with me filling out a developmental checklist of 30 ages and stages questions.  He landed behind on the communication, problem solving, and social and emotional scales.  He qualified for further evaluation from the county, but the process takes a couple months.  About the same time he had a very rough day at preschool where my friend, who was instructing that day, said that he began displaying a number of the behaviors diagnostic to autism spectrum.  I asked his daycare provider, "Is he really that different?"  She said that he does not have conversations like the other kids do and he wont look at you or answer questions.  He sits by himself and plays with his trains or puzzles.  He does not want to participate in activities or do writing.  She really encouraged me to continue the evaluation process, "It is better if we start soon.  That will be better.", "then we will know and we can take care of him" "It's not your fault."  She has a mentally retarded daughter, so I held back from saying what I really wanted to ask, "Is he going to be ok?"
When the forms and materials came in the mail, I really froze up.  There were more questions about his behavior, questions that sounded more extreme than what he does.  There were questions for his daycare to fill out.  And there was this phrase: to determine if your child should enroll in school Special Education Services.
All I could see when reading that was a short bus, and a classroom from my elementary school with down syndrome kids.   I know that is not what things are like now a days; there are lots of levels and specialized learning environments.  In public middle school, I was in the Gifted and Talented (GT) class, but one of my best friends was in the Learning Disabilities (LD) class.  She seemed completely normal to me, I guess that she just had trouble with school work.
After seeing 'Special Education'  I just couldn't bring myself to fill the forms out.  I just threw the forms in the trash, telling myself that they would never give services to us if he wasn't fully vaccinated anyway.  I contacted a private practice occupational therapist to get an evaluation for Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).  Anecdotes I read about children with this disorder really correlated with some of the odd and worrisome things that LittleMan does: covers his ears when music plays, lays down on the floor proclaiming that he is 'tired' or 'scared' in structured situations, and climbing and jumping with an insatiable need for speed and stimulation.
The OT actually advised that I stop all vaccines for him, even though the county requires vaccines.  Kind of odd differences in recommendations.  I got another evaluation checklist from the OT, and filled out some forms with my Goals from the Therapy.  
So that was all what happened about three weeks ago.  I ended up cancelling the evaluation with the OT.  I kept looking at my Therapy Goals and struggling with them.  I had: 
  1. sits and participates at circle time
  2. plays with other kids
  3. listens to directions
  4. talks about things other than trains
  5. uses his imagination
  6. doesn't say that he is scared or cold 
I felt very icky about wanting to 'change' my kid to be more normal/perfect.  The most important thing to me is that he is happy and safe.  Every kid and adult has their manias.  I can look around at pretty much every person I've ever known in my life and find some or multiple reasons why they need therapy.  I think putting pressure on him to be more perfect according to my definition could backfire and make him more crazy.  I know that it did to me when I was a kid.  My parents threw me in boarding school because I let my grades slip in middle school.  That made me resent and distrust them for my whole adolescence.
I think the biggest reason that I was so worried about him a few weeks ago was because he didn't seem happy or responsive when I would talk to him.  But since I've changed my schedule to have more days at home, he has been sweet and joyous: following my directions and using his imagination, and never saying that he is scared or cold.  Last Wednesday, I kept thinking, "there's nothing wrong with this boy."
I had a conversation with his daycare provider again a couple days ago.  She noticed a dramatic change in him over the last few weeks.  He started playing with the other kids, sitting and participating in circle time, and saying he is 'happy.' She says that he looks like he has so much more energy.  
So I cancelled the OT appointment.  It was going to cost $500 just for the evaluation.  I figured that it is not worth evaluating him if we've already accomplished the Goals.  
Then I got a call from the county early childhood special education people.  They said that he does not need to be vaccinated to receive the evaluation, only once he enters school.  I might go through with their evaluation, just because it is free and I don't want to ignore it if he is having a serious mental problem.  But I'm going to try not to fret about it, and just focus on coaching him on my own through games and safe activities.  I think he really needed some one-on-one attention from his mama.  We also changed his supplement regime, and started giving him vitamins, fish oils, and probiotics daily.  He likes taking them, which I think is a sign that his body knows they helping something.  
I really hope things continue going well.


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