Driving Miss Crazy

I hate to drive. Well, maybe hate is a strong word. Awkward might be better. I have always found driving to be awkward. I don’t like other people judging my speed. I take it personally when people go around me, even when I am going 70. I don’t like when people look at me in the car. It feels like being on the Gong Show and any minute I am going to get kicked off stage for looking goofy. I have a horrible sense of direction and I just don’t like being behind the wheel with people in my car. I have been this way for as long as I can remember. I am a commuter and usually got away with this since there was really no need for me to drive. However, I got the point where I figured I might as well suck it up and get behind the wheel and go for it. I would not be a slave to my anxieties so much that I am trapped in my own home, or dependant on rides.

I started with some baby steps. I have my directions all written out and landmarks to guide me. Long story short, I worked my way up to 2 expressways, and a lot of long routes to far away places, because I don’t mind driving side streets. I get around. I still don’t really like it, per say. But I do it and feel good about it, to a certain extent. Sometimes it still makes me kind of anxious and crabby but over all, good times for me.

Another thing that makes it a bit more tolerable is my son. His sensory issues and delays have added a rich dimension and layers to our relationship. This of course is code for “he really can’t stand my face and would rather not share space with me at home”. It’s kind of true, unfortunately. I am rarely allowed in the same room with him lately. I get a lot of abuse and he toys with my emotions, but we are working on it, and I know we will get through. I don’t blame him, and I am starting to not blame me. But we have found a glorious medium in which a truce is called and I can feel like the delightful and loving mom I was meant to be.

The boy loves a good car ride.

Now, at first, I thought this to be the cruelest of all fates for me. Can’t he like just singing and dancing? Watching the front load washer spin around? Facebook? Anything? Anything? Bueller?? No. He loves the one thing that is hardest for me to do comfortably. Drive.

The good thing is, I only drive with him in the car. We listen to music, and sometimes he let’s me sing. We catch each other’s eyes in the mirror and he smiles very big. His father has significantly different taste in music than me, so for every Usher or Black Eyed Peas song he starts to learn, I try to make up for it with Lou Reed, Foo Fighters, The Gits, Van Morrison, or David Bowie. There is a pretty cool kids song by the Indigo Girls that he has me replay 5 times in a row. I do it, because pure communication isn’t exactly his best talent right now, and if he clearly states me loves the music, I will comply.

He sleeps sometimes, but mostly he just chills. And the more he chills, the more I chill. Once, while at a red light, I even did the robot. He laughed.

Much like the little jerky miracle worker he is, he has broadened my horizon and made me a bit more comfortable in my car. At this point, if swallowing light bulbs made this child laugh, I would do it. Listening to Justin Bieber? Not so much.

Bebe

Hundred Acre Won’t!

I have always fancied myself a relatively average gal by nature. I don’t really have too much of a hipster vibe. I enjoy some out-of-the-way things.  I listen to a specific radio station that doesn’t specialize in playing the latest Miley Cyrus or Taylor Swift over and over again, but I don’t own an IPod. I dress pretty plain, have an average sense of belonging, and I am only quirkier than a few people. I live in the burbs. I drive an SUV. I commute every day. I don’t shop at Whole Foods. Not because I can’t afford it or think it’s bushwah, but because I don’t live near one. I don’t like sushi. I don’t like fish, period. I exist right down the middle of life.

When I had the boy, I did want to try to stick to fresh foods, organic baby food, homemade baby food, baby food made lovingly by indigenous tribes of brown children blessed by the hand of God Himself, who live on a commune of unicorns and gluten-free fields of gold. That lasted all of 6 months or so, when Costco brand diapers and formula proved far less expensive than milk and honey from Euphoria.

So when I compromised on what he began to eat, I thought I would hold my ground and only expose him to off beat and smart music. Acoustic guitar, instrumental versions of Smashing Pumpkins music and awesome Pink Floyd solos. Then he became enchanted with the theme song from King of the Hill. It’s rock-a-billy, so I can handle that. Then came Wheel of Fortune and oddly enough, The Golden Girls. Apparently I gave birth to a 70 year old man. All in all, his music tastes are pretty acceptable, even though his dad sneaks on dance music when they are alone in the car. I guess that’s better than letting him eat Doritos all of the time, or teaching him to smoke.

I didn’t want the house to be full of generic corporate Disney stuff. I mean, Handy Manny is pretty cool. He is a Mexican handy man who teaches Spanish, lives in a perfect little town called Sheet-rock Hills, has a gay neighbor who owns a candy shop, and he is secretly in love with the hot chic who owns the hardware store. They also feature a lot of Los Lobos music. He is in. But the other stuff, not so much.

Same goes for books. I had the classic Disney stuff around when I was a kid. The big vinyl records with the books to read along. The politically incorrect drawings. The good stuff.  There is a series of books about a pigeon that I think are rather funny, and when he is older, Jamie Lee Curtis actually puts together a great book for kids, when she isn’t talking about constipation and yogurt on her couch with random women.

When the boy started walking around with Winnie the Pooh and the Windy Day, I am a bit dead inside. Pooh always seemed the lamest and somewhat creepiest of all of the Disney family. I just never got the appeal. He wasn’t really edgy or funny, and he was just that stereotypical baby nursery character that everybody had. I assumed we were cooler than that.

Fast forward a few weeks. The boy and his speech therapist are BFF’s. He is making great progress and every day he looks at things in a new way. He opens his Pooh book, points and says “Pooh”. Then later, he says “Eeyore”. Most recently according to my husband, he said “Owl”. The phrase that pays here people is HE SAID.

And now my heart has melted and I have taken Lulu’s advice and embraced the Pooh book. But not without a fight, and not without questions. First off, why do they call him Pooh, when his name is Winnie? What is a Pooh anyway? And furthermore, is he a he? If he is a he, why is his name Winnie? It’s a vicious cycle here people. Why is Tigger basically a crackhead, and why does he have mass appeal? What will become of Eeyore, who obviously needs to get off of the downers and start with some Wellbrutin or Prozac ASAP? Does Piglet know how good bacon is?

I stand by these questions. I know they may never be answered, which I guess is fine. If my son wants to yell their names across the house day in and day out, I will be more than pleased to hear them. I would even move to the Hundred Acre Wood, provided there is a decent radio station and a Whole Foods nearby.

-Bebe

Talking Heads

My son was recently diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder. In simplest terms, he is unable to take what he hears and feels and process it into thoughts and actions. As you already know from earlier posts, he has been in therapy, doesn’t say much, and has a compulsive attachment to doors and buckles of every kind. The SPD is something the professionals thought could be borderline but soon it was clear that it wasn’t, and he needed more help. We had a change with our speech therapist and at first, I was pretty sad. But this woman is a breath of fresh air and she was able to get the boy to a whole new level in a matter of 3 sessions. Change isn’t always bad.

So starting in about a week or so, he will be spending 4 days a week getting occupational, speech & developmental therapies. That and 5 days of good old-fashioned day care. That boy is busier at 2 than I ever was in my lifetime as a little person. He has a great attitude about it and loves his therapists. He gets pissed when he has to work, but who doesn’t, right? I want to report to you that I see this fantastic change in him every minute of every day. But I don’t. That’s not to say that he hasn’t improved. He really truly has. He mimics us a bit now. I imagine Daddy and Mommy should curb our swears and random ridiculous conversations starting soon. We got into this ridiculous and hilarious argument in the car this weekend and he sat in the back, laughing his ass off. That smart ass kind of laugh where you could totally tell he thinks we are both assholes. My boy might be a little slow in the head, but he ain’t stupid. He knows assholes when he sees them. We were laughing and yelling at the same time, so it’s not like we acted like Ike & Tina or anything. But my point is, he knows.

I don’t always see his improvement because now, he acts out the most with me. I arrive at the time of the day that is hardest on him. He is so over excited to see me that he cannot take in what is going on around him. Nothing is routine with us, yet everything is. It is literally our routine for him to spaz out when I walk through the door and have him screech and get frustrated. We have a lovely time in the bath tub but when I am drying him off, I get smacked and kicked. Hard. Until recently, I didn’t really know how to help him down from that. Now I know to take my glasses off, hold his arms down a bit and give him a good strong hug. I sing the 50 states in ABC order because I learned them in the 5th grade and never got the song out of my head. And it actually helps to calm me down. This doesn’t work on him all the time. But the few times that it does really helps. I don’t feel so out of control. And as badly as it hurts my feelings and my self-worth when he is knocking the shit out of only me, I feel that much better when only I can calm him down.

I am unable to sleep in on weekends now because the second I walk down the stairs, his morning is in shambles. He isn’t used to seeing me all day. He had a morning routine with dad and while he loves that I am there, he is physically and emotionally unable to convey that he wants me there. So in other words, I have a 2-year-old teenager. “Oh look! There’s mom!! There’s mom!!! I love her soooo much!! However, I don’t know how to deal with her presence or my feelings, so begin breakdown before she hits the bottom stair. Annnnndddd GO!!!”

We have to work with the therapists on how to help him on weekends. And I guess on how to help us. I stayed home all last week on what was supposed to be the great clean up of 2010. Instead, it was the 2 year old’s great ear infection of 2010 and he stayed home with me all week. Nothing I planned went right. Not one thing. I had some good moments with him. I really did. But others, not so great. I had to keep telling myself that I am here for him, not the other way around. I had to keep telling myself he was very sick, and in general, even those “normal” little kids are jerks when they are sick. But all I wanted to do was run away or go back to work. Until a couple of things happened.

He pretended to talk on the phone. He babbled his heart out and even said “buh” before he hung up. This shows that he not only knows his own place in society, but he also wants to talk to other people in his world. That guy was saying something to someone on the phone!! Most likely he casually mentioned his fat ass mom hasn’t gotten out of her bright red bath robe in days and she was starting to kind of resemble the planet Mars. But fuck it. I will take that. Besides, that shit is true.

Our friends gave us some special sensory specific toys. He took to them straight away, and even sat down with us, and more specifically me, to play with them. It was a family effort and it went swimmingly. It was the end of the longest most unsuccessful week I probably had in ages, and here we were, playing as a family unit. I felt just about as calm as he was. And I guess that sometimes even when I am not realizing it, I am probably just as spazzy as he is. Something for me to think about the next time I am helping him out of the spiral.

Last but not least, something else entirely caught me by surprise. My husband started school the same week I was home. He was highly overwhelmed and emotional, but fiercely dedicated and steadfast. I had some music on. The boy sat in my lap on the living room floor playing with his new keyboard. Daddy was walking around reading medical terminology flash cards. I had slightly homemade Bisquick shortcakes in the oven and berries in the refrigerator. I kind of looked up and saw that moment for what it was. It was exactly what I have always wanted for myself. An evening with my family. No yelling. No farting. No cartoons or sports or empty television. No squeals of frustration from my son who lives in his own mind. Music, baked goods, education, culture and affection paid a visit to my home. It was genuinely who we were that night. It was a lovely moment and I am blessed beyond reason to have had it, and grateful beyond measure to be able to notice it.

My shitty week and sweet weekend ended today with the boy leading us in the song Itsy Bitsy Spider. It’s been one of his favorites for as long as I can remember. He would look intently at us and laugh when we over exaggerated the sun with interpretive dance. Only this time, it was his idea to start the song, and he did the movements with us. When he wanted to do it again, he used his sign language and asked for more. So of course, we did it again. My 2-year-old teenager changed back into a 2 year old boy, and when we put him down for bed, he yelled “BU BYE GOGO” He then reached out of his crib and slammed his door shut.

We have no idea what BU BYE GOGO means. But it’s cool. I am sure he will tell us someday.

Bebe

Inflatable metaphors for life.

We had a birthday party to go to today. It was at one of those places that has inflatable castles, obstacle courses, slides, and games for the kids. We were so excited to get up early and get the boy out with other kids. His social anxieties have improved so much, and he has always loved a good bouncy castle. Hell, so do I. I once played in one for almost two days straight, and that was just 3 years ago.

The boy sleeps in today, which is not like him in the least. He is all about routine, this one. And today he ignored said routine and opted for a sleep in. I should have known that the rest of the day would not be as peachy as I had imagined it. But hope, much like hemorrhoids, springs eternal. So I put on my best smile and we headed out to the door.

We get there and there are tons of kids, lots of balloons, and of course, inflatables everywhere. But who needs inflatables when you have doors? Awesome doors abundant like milk and honey. For every 5 minutes he spent playing and bouncing, we spent 15 minutes prying him from a door. Given that he is now asserting himself a bit better, he throws a tantrum every time you whisk him away to greener bouncier pastures.

I tried to maintain Zen about it. To allow him to just kind of be who he is. But he just kept running outside, crying, hitting, squealing, and crying some more. At one point I threw him over my shoulder and tossed him into a castle and almost demanded that he have fun. I went into a quiet spot and cried a bit out of frustration. I looked at the kids there who were younger than him who grasped the concept of climbing, bouncing and running back and forth. They all yelled “mommy, watch me!”. Mine squealed and ran out the door.

Daddy came and got him from me and took him around the room. That didn’t work, so he came back to me. He climbed up on my lap and he put his cheek to my chest and I covered his other ear and rocked back and forth. He sighed with relief and we stayed there for about 20 minutes. My dear friend came around and sat next to me and rubbed my leg. She shared her problems with her youngest son, who has severe allergies and asthma. He had similar problems with speech and being behind like our boy. But his were medical in nature and medication has changed his life. But she had been there and she knew I was hurting and she simply came and rubbed my leg.

After about 20 minutes I was starting to see why the boy was so overwhelmed with the place. It’s an open warehouse but strangely so claustophobic at the same time. He kept yawning and was most comfortable when I had his ears covered. It was chilly in there and there was a lot of screaming, white noise coming from the air conditioners and the air compressors, and loud music. No wonder he wasn’t having any fun. I wouldn’t have either if I were him.

He got up and walked over to this enormous slide. I mean, enormous. You climb through this tube and climb up this wall and then slide down. I decided to go in with him knowing he wouldn’t be able to do it alone even if he did grasp the concept of it all, which he didn’t. But I saw other parents doing so I said what the hell. Let’s go, kid.

So first off, let me explain that I am about 5 feet tall and I am shaped like a beach ball with feet. I have been doing a lot of random sweating lately, and my hair was sticking up all over the place from static and bad hair. I plucked my fat ass through the tube opening, thinking that on the inside of this giant contraption would be a little walking around, some stairs and at the very least, an escape route. No problem, right?

HA! It was impossible! The boy was crying, then laughing, then crying. I had to throw myself down little tubes, giant holes, curved hills and then through an area of giant upright cylinders. By this time word got around that I went for it, so all of my husbands friends and their wives all stragetically set themselves up to view what could have been the most hilarious sight in the world. The wives, most of whom I love dearly, set themselves up at the bottom of the slide. The husbands walked around the perimeter of the slide and yelled at me from the open areas. They followed me like one would follow a golf game, only they were laughing hysterically.

Kids were running past us, the boy was exhilerated but terrified. I looked for an escape route. None! I let another mom go past me. I just kept breathing and I kept trying to keep the boy calm. I was sweating and laughing at myself for doing this. I wanted to turn around but even if he wasn’t going to understand it at the time, I wasn’t going to let my kid down and turn around go back. Not for him, or for me. He could cry it out, I could make a fool of myself and get laughed at, but that bitch was going to get tamed. And we were the two people to tame it.

Then, I get to….the wall. Yes, the wall that went straight up about 10 feet I think. The wall with little ass square pegs to climb on, and a couple of handles here and there to grab. The wall to the top of the slide. To the top of my pride, my son’s anxieties, and the top of the giant freefall below. I honestly didn’t think we could do it. The boy weighs 35 pounds. And I weight much more. Muchhhhhh more. I wouldn’t have been able to do that wall at the age of 15, let alone at the age of 35 with a 35 pound Forrest Gump on my hip!

Then I remembered my mother in law bringing in a fucking pizza to Thanksgiving dinner. One step. All of the therapy my son has to take and how trapped he must feel sometimes. Two steps. How I sometimes just feel queasy living in my own skin and work soooo hard to change that almost every second of every day. Three steps. My husband not working for two years straight but still holding on the best we can. Four steps. My husband and our friends behind me giggling their fat asses off, yelling for the little girl up on the top of slide to grab the boy and yank him up. Five steps.

As corny as this is going to sound, and believe me, it’s corny. I took a deep breath and said out loud to my son “Life is always going to be hard for people like us. Let’s finish.” Six steps.

Then, there we are. He is crying and confused. I am holding off having a heart attack, and I can’t feel my fingers. I sit my fat ass down at the top of the slide and put him on my lap. He instantly stops crying and holds on to my hands. I could actually feel him smiling even though I couldn’t see him in front of me. I take a deep breath and yell “CANNONBALLLLLLLLLLLLLLL” and down we go. About mid-way through I feel how fast we are going, and see all of our friends at the bottom of the slide waiting for us. Flashing lights from the cameras, slow motion clapping. I scream. We hit the bottom and the boy giggles his heart out. I block traffic at the bottom because I can’t move. All of these little kids start piling on top of me.

My husband helps me roll off the bottom of the slide. My son may be slow, and I may be fat. And we both had a hell of a time getting up that bitch of a slide, but we did it. We have a picture of it and everything. We scored one for fat moms and slow kids everywhere. I hope he is glad we followed through. I am.

Bebe

Spanx…not just for fat thighs.

Discipline. Every parent’s worst nightmare. Well, I guess it should be every parent’s worst nightmare. It’s mine. I bring this up because I gave my 2-year-old a good spanking this weekend. We are so accustomed to him being very laid back, a bit slow, and more or less really mild-mannered. We got so spoiled.

Then he turned two. Here is a kid who is a bit developmentally delayed and goes to therapy, but somehow knew that in terms of acting like a little son of a gun, he is exactly two.years.old. What’s worse is that I can’t even tell if he isn’t listening to me or doesn’t understand. And I don’t know when it is I became a comedienne, because he is constantly laughing at me. Gutteral laughs. His dimples are so deep I am thinking of serving egg nog out of them at Thanksgiving. He thinks it’s all just a riot. I keep a straight face, I walk away to laugh, I try to be serious. But he just loves to do the opposite of everything he should. Congratulations kid, you have caught up with yourself.

So this weekend I took some pinches to the face, a smack, a kiss, then another pinch, then my glasses got ripped off my face. His dad got “pantsed” while trying to make taco meat. More than once he ran into the kitchen, smiling big, eyebrows arched, dimples deep and ready to pull his dad’s pants down. Playing in the garbage. Tossing food across the room. Sticking the drain cap in his mouth. Towards the end of the day, especially after the glasses face pinching, I lost it. I spanked.

Now oddly enough, we had just gotten done watching a string of Supernanny episodes. She is really pragmatic and has good ideas that I wouldn’t think about otherwise. But nothing that day was working. And I spanked him. Yes, I get that it makes no sense to stop someone from hurting you by hurting them back. But some people at some point in their life actually need to learn empathy, sympathy, and discipline by means of experience. I had no idea how much fire hurt until I burned myself as a kid. I loved the stove. My mother was not a hitter by nature in the least. But the day I was 3 and ran away across the street to my aunt’s house, I got a spanking. I should say in my defense that I got a teenage neighbor of ours to walk me across the street to my aunt’s house. But still, I acted like a jerky brat, threw a tantrum, and then left my house and crossed the street into better pastures. My welcoming committee wasn’t great. I remember it now 32 years later.

When the boy got his first official spanking,  he acted as if I poured ice water on him. He was shocked. He was afraid. He was confused. And I was a bit dead inside. Mostly because I really struck him out of anger and frustration and it was clearly very in the moment. But I don’t know how or when else is a better time to spank? 

I know many people have many methods. All of the old TV shows show the parents telling their kids to go upstairs and wait for the whoopin. This seems very well thought out and logical and in the mind of a kid, extremely frightening, which I suppose is the point. And I do think that in reality, a snowflake could do with a shock to the system. Not a beatdown, mind you. Just some old-fashioned no-nonsense fanny whooping.

I have to ask myself if I would be able to do it, because on the other hand, it seems so calculating. And the only “violence or physical altercations” I have ever witnessed were not meant to dissuade. They were purely meant to humiliate and hurt, and relieve stress. Pure and simple. Where is the line in my house?

I am not sure there is a clear-cut answer that is going to work all of the time. And I know that every good parent probably does really feel like shit after the spanking occurs. I know I do. I think I will walk away if I really feel in my gut that I just want to stop stressing before I administer the spanking. But if he is lighting things on fire, sticking objects in light sockets or running out in the street, I reserve the right to spank, and possibly strangle Homer Simpson style.

I do have some hope that once he is back into the swing of things with his speech therapy he will have some more tools to communicate with us. And vice versa. We lost his therapist to a combination of red tape with her license and also the state not paying therapists for work in EI. We got lucky that we live in just a decent enough neighborhood to have someone willing to travel and pick up our case. Many others aren’t that lucky and that’s a problem. But that’s for another post.

I haven’t gotten any judgement from any friends on this issue. Lulu says that I have to give him boundaries otherwise he will grow up to live in a neighborhood filled with fuckfaces and acting like a douchebag on Facebook Version 7.0. I am inclined to agree.

So in the end, no pun intended, I maintain that I feel like shit about spanking my kid. I will always be on the lookout for functional ways to not have to spank my kid. I will hopefully recognize when I need to cool down and spanking incidents will be the exception, and not the norm.

Someone should write Miranda Rights for spanking. You have a right to remain silent. Anything you do can and will be held against you with your parents. You have a right to straighten your shit up and you have a right to ask us to assist you. We in turn reserve the right to possibly and maybe spank you. We hope not though.

Bebe

The Great Zamboni Epiphany

I had this utterly cruel and heartbreaking epiphany about myself while riding home on the train this week. I had been doing my 365 experiment of journaling something every day and there it was in black and white. 

I think that there may some moments in life where I find myself not liking my son. My miracle son with fantastic dimples and lovely sleeping habits. My son that I dreamed about day in and day out over the course of quite possibly my whole life. My 2-year-old chunk of heaven on earth.

When I realized that might possibly be the case I of course immediately felt my breath being vaporized from my body and my eyes blowing out my ass. How much of a fuckface could I possibly be? But then calmer heads prevailed and I got to questioning myself before I went down the shame spiral.

I have documented our struggle with his speech delays. We have progressed a bit. He knows how to say all gone. Everything is all gone!! He tries to say baba, yuk, and what we think might be hello. But everything else is a long drawn out powerful whine. Or small grunts. I don’t understand anything that comes out of his mouth. I try to work on speech stuff with him at night and on weekends. But he doesn’t want to do homework on weekends.

We try to do social things with him and I have to be honest. He is kind of solitary and weird. We went to the baby pool nearby and all he did was stand in the corner playing with the snap buckles in his stroller. We take him to the park, and all he does is play with the snap buckles in his stroller. It’s profoundly discouraging because I take it so personally. He doesn’t want to play with me. I try to work double time on weekends with him. But he just wants to chill. He works hard all week.

I took him to his first story time, and all of the kids sat in their mom’s laps and enjoyed the show. Mine walked away from me and hung around the doorway. We had to sing the kid’s names as a welcoming activity and when it was our turn, the whole room had to look behind them to see him. And there he was, standing there alone. I just thought it would be a perfect time for him to start picking his nose.  

But the doorway thing is all the rage with him.  At his therapist’s advice, we took away his buckles and tried to keep him busy doing other things. He needs his senses to be very highly stimulated. In the absence of the buckles he turned towards…doorways. We go to a party and he finds the doorway and parks there all night. Opening and closing. Standing and staring. In and out. Reaching and pulling. Of course, the busier the doorway is, the more appealing it is.

This happened at a family party for the first time and has not been undone yet. It’s also the first time I became outwardly frustrated with him. In front of kin, no less. Mind you, they sent us as kids for packs of cigarettes from the corner store and let us jump around the station wagon all willy nilly like. Yet somehow every one of them found time in between America’s Funniest Home Videos and Facebooking all day to earn their degree in child development. Me becoming annoyed for my boy “just being him” was not looked upon in a supportive light. All I wanted for him was to enjoy the other children and get a lot of fresh air. Not stand in a doorway and have a meltdown when someone tried to move him. I just wanted him to have some “normal” fun.

Fast forward to a children’s Halloween party. It’s a kid’s party to beat all. Treats everywhere. A big jumpy castle. Crafts galore. I thought we made a breakthrough when he played in the jumpy with another girl his age.  But he inevitably ends up in the doorway. This time I try to stay as positive as possible and carry him to other fun places at the party. It takes about 10 tries, but it works. He ends up playing nicely with another little boy in the hostess’ daughters bright pink kitchen. Both boys were dressed as football players, and they were the only ones playing in the kitchen. The dad’s were mortified but we thought it was cute. He wasn’t in a doorway.

I was relieved.

He gets evaluated every 6 months and shows no signs of autism. He just has quirks. And just as quickly as my last epiphany came, so did another.  I am holding him to a higher standard because I miss him so god-damned much during the week that I expect him to be on when we are together. I am forgetting that he isn’t a pod. He is a person. He is his own little dude. He isn’t a TV sitcom baby, and shame on me for even thinking he would be. He loves story time at school. He loves speech exercises with his therapist. I have decided that he doesn’t expect his teacher or his therapist to be his mother any more than he expects me to be his teacher or speech therapist.

When he is sick, he wants me. When he is hungry, well, he will steal food from anyone. But he wants me. And besides, it’s incredibly naive and selfish to even think for one second that it’s your child’s job to make you happy. It isn’t. Parenting is a true kick in the balls to a bitch’s ego. So I could, should and will stop feeling sorry for myself and accept the fact that my kid is just being him. I mean, I will still parent him and try to figure him out.  I will get to know him and have faith that he won’t end up wearing a clown suit in a few years running down people in a Zamboni. 

I will also remember that I used to walk on the sides of my feet because I hated the feeling of grass, carpeting and cloth while I walked. I would run out of the bathroom faster than the toilet could flush because I thought that the gurgling noise it made would eat me. I also was convinced that Gene Simmons would be lowered with a rope from the KISS Copter and kidnap me while I pee’d. In all of my old home movies, everyone is running around having fun and I am standing silently along  just mouthing the word “hi” with a slight wave. Damn, I was a weirdo too.

My son very well might be absolutely brilliant. Or he might be a criminal. I just don’t know. But at the very least, he knows how to work a doorway and buckle a seat belt. And when one needs a clean getaway, these talents will come in handy.

Bebe

Say what???

As most of you know, my son was born almost two years ago and was diagnosed with a physical injury and a developmental delay. The physical part is fairly healed but he still receives physical therapy for his balance and to help him get a better tone throughout his body. The developmental is fairly significant, in speech, anyway. He is about a year behind. Now, in comparison to other issues with other children, we realize how healthy he is. He hasn’t tested positive on any autism spectrum, and he is not in need of occupational therapy. We are wholeheartedly thankful for this, and we realize how lucky we are.

Forgetting statistics and setting aside other children, when you have a child with delays, however minimal they are, it’s a scary thing. You cannot help but think about what it is you did wrong, even though you did nothing wrong. You ate the right foods, you got the right exercise in, you did yoga, you meditated, you prayed, you did everything right. I have a horrible paint chip eating habit, and I stayed away. Can you believe that? You think about what you could be doing now, even though you really are doing your best. After a long day at school for him, and work for me, we sit on the floor of the playroom and watch a little TV and play with some toys. Should that TV be on though? We rationalize that with the fact that he is at school playing hard and learning harder for about 8 hours a day. When he gets home, he just wants to chill out. But should he be laying on a pillow with me watching the season premiere of House? Shouldn’t we be coloring with him or something instead? By the time I get home, I admit that it’s really difficult to decipher which grunt means what, knowing full well it mostly means more goldfish crackers, or teddy grahams. Thankfully, I resist feeding him for enjoyment and pacify him. I may not be perfect but at least I have that going for me.

When people ask me if he is talking up a storm or running up and down the stairs, I just smile and say we are working on it. Other people are well meaning and go on and on about their cousin who didn’t talk until he was 3, and now he runs a car wash, yada yada yada. Or they tell me not to compare him with all of the other kids, because there really is no real “timeline”. Yes, I suppose that all kids are different. And no, I suppose a true timeline doesn’t really show up in the bible of babies. However, when you have a room full of hard core professionals evaluating your child and you get approved for funding for therapy 3 times a week, you tend to believe the professionals.

You might know me well enough now to know that I don’t need my child to be like every other child. Certainly not. But simple things like pointing, saying Mama or Dada, or asking for juice is something that pretty much every kid in his class can do. And aren’t you frustrated when you want something, but you are at a loss for words? People tend to think that a speech delay means that he cannot recite the encyclopedia. But it’s more about communication. It’s about movement of his mouth, messages from his brain to his mouth, and connection. Plain and simple. Only it’s not.

I am not embarrassed by any of this. If anything, I wonder if when I talk about it, I make it sound a bit more serious than what it is. But then I know in my heart of hearts that I explain it to people how I see it. Listen, this child is beyond adorable. And he is hilarious. He responds to theme songs and commercial jingles. He does this hilarious hooting sound with the back of his hand on his mouth and a wiggle of his fingers. When he does it quickly, it’s a greeting. When he draws it out, it means he likes his environment and wants more of it. Kind of like his seal of approval.  He thinks that his dad and mom are the funniest people on earth, and by the looks of it, he trusts us, even though he is trained to cry when the doorbell rings. He knows when the therapists are here. He even rubs his eyes and tries to lay down on the floor and pretend like he is sleeping. So it’s no mystery that the dude is smart.

I think about the long term, and whether or not he will be slightly behind forever. What kind of resources will it take? Will we teach him how to be proud of himself, self reliant, and how to make the most of what he’s got? Will we, as his parents, think of him as different, even if we don’t mean it? I imagine at some point he will give us the business. Just this weekend he stole a chicken wing and ran around the house eating it without choking. It didn’t even dawn on me that he was old enough to do that. It made me think about what we do and don’t do as parents, and ultimately led to this post.

I keep in touch with other parents in my situation and this helps. The folks who mean well and keep talking are starting to get the hint to taper down what they say and just listen to our updates. I know that my husband and I won’t place any limitations on this kid, and we won’t let anyone else either. But in order to do that, we need to be honest with ourselves and really think about what we do and don’t do as parents. Questioning our routine, maybe rethinking some priorities will help. It doesn’t mean that we are beating ourselves up. And yes, we need time for ourselves as well, but we can make that work. So maybe tonight for my part we will sit down in a circle and try to read to him, without the tv on. Judging by the look on his face last night, House isn’t going to be that great this season anyway.

Bebe

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