Friday, June 4, 2010

Survival



For some reason, my children have conspired to drive me over the brink of insanity the first night of Robbie's business trips. They are already bad sleepers, most especially Fionn, but they really pull out all the stops on my solo nights. This has the effect of making the rest of the week, or weeks, that he's gone nearly unbearable since I've started out with zero sleep.

Last night was no exception - after going to bed at 1am since I was trying to catch up on a million things, Fionn decided to wake up 4 or 5 times (it's all a blur now). Then, at 5am, he decided that the pewter light edging in around the drapes was as good as daylight, so he demanded to go downstairs for breakfast. What followed was a nightmarish sequence in which I tried to sleep on the couch in between entertaining him, knowing full well that the sleep I was getting wouldn't help at all and not giving a damn anyway.

Finally, I noticed that my dreams were getting longer than one minute, so I cautiously opened an eye and found him splayed out on the rug, fast asleep. Ahhh. I snuggled in and got a blissful half an hour of sleep. At which point a splatter of little footsteps upstairs told me that I was in for round two.

I share all these details not for sympathy (sniff sniff), but just to explain why the post that follows is less of a post and more of me just vomiting random words and pictures onto the screen.

On the good news front, Fionn had his yearly evaluation with the Early Intervention team and they determined that he is right on target for all his milestones. I've been assuming that Fionn would have at least a few delays and need to go through the toddler group and then preschool, just as Emerson did. The reality that this wasn't going to happen and that we would actually have to find a regular preschool for him someday was a little jarring at first. But then it sunk in - everything was OK. It turns out that OK is a great place to be.

On the bad news front, Emerson has decided that being the least bit compliant is no longer a priority. The little boy who would stop walking the moment he got too close to the street is now gleefully ignoring my commands to stop and running headlong toward traffic. The boy who would get frustrated easily, but at least try hard during therapy sessions, is now throwing tantrums as much at home as he is in the speech therapists's office. During a mobility session with his vision teacher a couple of weeks ago, he started losing it, stomping his feet and yelling. She gasped. "Have you ever seen him do this before?"

I laughed. "Uh, yeah, all the time. I guess this means he's comfortable with you now," I joked. We talked about the possibility that he was acting out because I was around - a conversation that I repeated with his speech therapist a couple of days later. I agreed to step out of sessions, but then the vision teacher mentioned that he was acting up during school sessions as well.

Part of me knows it's just a stage and that I should be grateful he's asserting his independence. But the other part of me remembers all the obnoxious boys I've ever had the displeasure of teaching and all the times I thought, "I will never allow my son to behave like this for other people." He's certainly not at that level yet, but my imagination is conjuring up the worst.

What's hard about him is not so much the defiance, which is normal behavior in many ways, but how to effectively deal with it when his personality is already an enigma wrapped in a mystery and topped with a "What the heck?!" His team of teachers and I spend endless hours trying to figure out what motivates him and why he does the things he does. It's validating to see professionals struggle as much as we do, but it also means we only makes spurts of progress, mainly based on sheer luck.

But back to the positive again. During Emerson's preschool progress report a few weeks ago(before the defiant stage, so it was a purely good report), I asked the speech therapist in the classroom about apraxia. She seemed stunned and said, "I've diagnosed a good portion of the class with speech apraxia - but not him." Around the same time, a friend of ours who is a retired speech therapist brought up my post on apraxia. She felt she hadn't seen definite signs of apraxia during her interactions with him and was concerned that our private speech therapist had given him such a "devastating diagnosis" so quickly. Just hearing her validate the diagnosis as devastating when so few people around us grasp the magnitude of it was a huge relief. But hearing another opinion that it may not be apraxia was even better.

After hanging out with her for a while, during which time Emerson went about his normal play chatter, she looked at me and said, "Some people may say apraxia. I say bull sh**."

I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much, especially since the private speech therapist confirms the apraxia diagnosis practically every other session, but I'll take even a sliver of possibility at this point.

Since I'm finally done with school for the semester, I've been slogging through books with titles like "Boys of Few Words," "Positive Discipline," and "Beyond Sibling Rivalry" (another story). Strangely, the most helpful passage has been from the sibling book. It was about children who get an unfair lot in life and how that can sometimes lead to venting their anger on other people, especially siblings who have an easier time.

I looked down at Emerson and thought about that day sometime in the future when he screams at me "Life is so unfair!" And he'll be right. That doesn't mean I won't discipline him. It doesn't mean he won't still have a great life. But it does mean I will need to be more sympathetic.

And patient.

4 comments:

  1. First of all, YAY for Fionn! Secondly, if you ever need a nap, give me a call and I'll watch the boys for you. Thirdly, ever time I see Emerson, he's saying more and more and I sure hope the apraxia diagnosis is wrong.

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  2. Hang in there. Three more weeks and we'll be there to give you a break. As for the evaluations I'm so happy to hear that there was a lot of good news. Where Emerson and his acting out is concerned I think you just have to wait till he's old enough that the carrot and stick method can be applied more effectively.

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  3. Maggie's DedeJune 13, 2010 at 3:34 PM

    Based on where E. is developmentally, not chronologically, aren't meltdowns while trying to become independent sort of part of the territory? What's impt. is how everybody responds to the meltdowns,i.e. firm, consistent, calm, don't give in, but don'tget excited. Make eye contact after the storm is over, etc. I would also be concerned at this age if he were totally compliant all the time. Big hugs and back pats to you for continuing to do such a great job with your little guys. Sorry for my potty mouth, professionals do differ on diagnoses--but I believe definite and devastating labels at E's age are counter productive.

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  4. knock knock! Anyone home?

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