Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Slipping Through My Fingers

Kerry here...I'm not even going to try to apologize for the delay in posting.  Life is hectic, it seems pretty non-stop, and there are days where I have to choose between time to shave my legs, or time for breakfast. However, I have a few minutes of blessed quiet time.  There's a great breeze coming in, the sun is shining, and my lunch of Cup-o-Soup and Dr. Pepper seems to be doing the trick.  So here I am!

Some of you know that my Little Dude is receiving speech therapy.  Tuesday was his third session, and so far he is running through with flying colors.  It's nice to go once a month-it gives me a touchstone of sorts to see his progress.  We live with it every day, and so we're used to his quirks and progress.  But when they see him, it's a celebration.  He asked for juice instead of just hauling me into the kitchen?  Hugs from the speech therapist!  He jumped with both feet together?  Applause from the physical therapist!  Look, he's using pretend play!  The OT gives everyone high fives!  I love that LD gets the extra cheers from them-The Dude and I celebrate any new achievement, but I think we forget to keep cheering after a while.  But we never stop being proud.

We also seem to work with him non-stop at home.  Parents in this program always have "homework", to keep the momentum up between monthly sessions.  It can be challenging to hold LD's attention, and it can definitely be time-consuming, but it has really paid off.  His therapy team know I blog, and they actually encouraged me to discuss what we do.  There are exercises to help him gain a greater, deeper awareness of his body.  Those exercises are what has led to learning to jump, labeling his own body parts without needing a mirror, and his sudden ability to tell us when he has to go potty.  We coach him to say "no" and "mine", which amuses me because it seems that those are viewed as bad words in toddler land.  It's hard to teach a child to share while simultaneously telling him it's okay to say "mine"!  We've taught him sign language, and we're now working on imitative play.  We repeat the same words endlessly.  And there's the "sensory diet", which is a series of five activities meant to stimulate nerves, work muscles, encourage movement of the mouth, measure fine motor skills, and to encourage a mess.  For example, we'll start by bouncing on an exercise ball while singing a song about bouncing on the ball.  Then we'll do some deep nerve stimulation by doing joint compressions.  After that, we'll blow bubbles, then stack some blocks, then end with finger painting.  And our reward is watching our son open up a little more every day.  I'm not complaining about what we have to do-we are so very lucky to have a wonderful team to teach us and help us, and we're grateful that our little guy is otherwise happy and healthy.

At this last session, as LD was playing with his therapy team, I was pulled into a meeting with Jeffrey's coordinator, his rep from the county, and a rep from our local school district.  Once LD turns three, he'll be receiving treatment from the school, assuming he still needs it by then.  He has the option to receive home therapy, or to be sent to a preschool.  This preschool is located close to home, is staffed by what sounds like a wonderful team of educators and therapists, and is in a new, modern building.  The classes have 16 children-8 with varying special needs, and 8 "peer model" children.  It would be 4 days a week, in sessions of 2.5 hours a day.  I was okay with all of this, until the school rep said that we could choose to have LD bussed.  As she was telling me about these cute little buses with special car seats and an assistant to help buckle him in, and a very patient and friendly bus driver, all I could see in my mind was my baby (who suddenly seemed very tiny) being whisked away by a bunch of strangers, potentially crying every day for Mommy, and all I could do would be to stand on the sidewalk and wave.

My internal hysteria must have shown on my face, because the rep quickly backed off the talk of buses.  She reassured me that I could drive LD if I preferred, I'd always be welcome to observe and visit, and I don't even have to do school yet.  And I know-I KNOW-that school would probably be the best bet.  LD would get some much-needed interaction with other kids.  It would be such a boost for his self-esteem.  But...all I could feel was the sensation that time was slipping away, my baby was slipping through my fingers, and that one day very soon, I'll wake up to see a kid who doesn't need Mommy as much as Mommy may want him to.  Does every mother feel this??  I know he'll grow up, that it's my job to help him grow up to be the very best person he can be, but I am not ready for this at all!

I suppose all I can do is try to work through my own hesitation and fears, and be as ready as I can be when the day comes-maybe sooner, maybe later-that I have to let my baby go.  Bannon, in true best friend style, listened to me wail, insisted that it's totally normal to wail, and promised to be with me whenever it's time to send LD off to school.  I know it's dumb, but going to school seems  Like he'll get on to the bus a toddler, and get off of the bus as some older, alien child, and my baby will be gone forever.  I know that can't be true.  My mother refers to me (still!!) as her baby, and I'm sure she'll see me that way for the rest of her life.  And it suits the two of us just fine.  So, in the meantime, I'll stop worrying about what I'm losing, and focus on the times when it's just our little family, seeing life through the eyes of our boy.

By the way, no matter how much I whine about losing my baby, I won't miss diapers at all.

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