Hello, all-Kerry here, back from a rather long and self-imposed hiatus. Before I go into the meat of my post tonight, I think I should explain where we've been. Towards the end of April, my health took a nosedive. No energy, constant headaches, wanted to sleep all the time. And my eyesight got...scary. It was a bit blurry one day, and I chalked it up to sinus pressure. It gradually got worse, and I finally made myself go to the doctor. I was diagnosed with diabetes, and while it's a pain in the ass, it's something I can manage. But it had to get worse before I could get better. My vision got to the point that I couldn't read, or drive, or see faces clearly. I had horrible reactions to my medication-nausea and vomiting (enough to make me wonder if I was pregnant!), severe reactions to eggs and dairy, and severe mood swings. Through all this, I was trying to manage my diet, start a regular exercise routine, and watch 5 kids in addition to my own. Long story short, I simply had to cut out any additional stresses or obligations, and one of those was the blog. Besides, it took over a month before I could get to where I could even see to type out a post. Bannon, whose life is in a perpetual state of chaos, and makes me look like a total amateur when it comes to managing kids/work/home, went along with me for the break. But we are slowly working our way back! If any of you are still hanging with us, we deeply appreciate it.
And now, the dreaded party. My little dude was invited to a birthday party, taking place tomorrow afternoon at a local park. All the kids in LD's preschool class were invited, and it sounds like a nice chance for Jeffrey to get to see some familiar faces. There's going to be swings and slides, which are some of the dude's favorite things in the world. And there's bound to be cake. Who doesn't like cake? I can't be BFFs with cake anymore, but I still have warm feelings for it. All in all, what's not to love about this party?
It's a very selfish reason, but it's one that breaks my heart. Gatherings like this are always a very sharp reminder that my son is different. His voice is very rarely part of the chatter. He simply stares silently at a child when asked if he wants to go play. When he does try to join in the play, he can only do so much, because his language skills just aren't there to allow him to understand that the kids are running from imaginary dinosaurs, or playing cops and robbers, or whatever. So he often ends up on his own, doing his thing, wanting Mom to come play because he knows Mom will understand what he wants or needs.
Those things hurt to see, but what really gets me is what I can't see. What does he think when a child asks him to play? Does he understand what they want? Is he choosing to be alone? Does he stay quiet because he knows he's not on their level? Does it hurt his feelings when he's not part of the group? While his communication skills are slowly but surely coming along, he's not at a point yet where he can tell his peers what he wants. While I try to help him do it himself, sometimes I have to intervene and speak for him. Unfortunately, mom involvement is the kiss of death on the playground, and kids usually steer clear when they realize a parent is watching. It just makes me so sad. Why did my little boy get dealt this hand?
I know I don't have much to complain about. There are so many children out there in more difficult situations, and I always feel so petty when I try to verbalize things like this. But I think every parent has the same wants for their children-they want their child to be healthy. To be normal. To belong. And during the preschool years, it's so hard for kids to understand that not every child is like them. My son doesn't look different, so why doesn't he talk to them? Why doesn't he want to play with them? It's difficult to explain why, but I try. I tell them that it's taking him longer to learn to talk, and that it's okay. That everyone learns things in their own time. I explain that my little guy can't say it for himself yet, but that he likes it when kids try to play with him, or say hi to him. I warn them that, if he gets mad or scared, he may scream, or maybe even hit, but that he's not doing it to be mean. If the child in question hasn't already taken off, I'll suggest that maybe they can go on the slide together.
And I'll remind myself that, one day, my son will be able to suggest playing on the slide in his own words.