Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rumble at the playground

I'm not the kind of mom who jumps in on every scuffle my kids get into on the playground. I try to let them solve the problem themselves at first, unless someone is being physical. Conflict resolution is a big part of being an adult in this society.

It's an absolute beautiful day here today and I knew the playground would be busier then usual. Typically, there are a group of 3 to 4 mom's who meet up with their kiddos for some playtime. These mom's gossip, but keep an eye on their children. Well not this group today.

I knew from the moment we walked into the fenced in area that these mom's were here merely to chit chat and ignore their children. I was right. One mom in particular seemed less then interested that her children were being bullies to the other children. The first incident was one of the kids took a truck away from Casey. This is where I didn't step in. I wanted to see what Casey would do. Being the passive aggressive one, he just stood there and watched. After 30 seconds, he ran away to find something else to play with.
As I was trying to keep an eye on both boys, I noticed a little one, a bit bigger then Casey, come up behind him and shove him to the ground. Casey wasn't hurt, but he was stunned. After glancing to make sure Wes was alright, I took off after Casey. I picked him up, brushed him off and gave him a hug. Meanwhile mean mom came over and said that she just saw her little one running away and was Casey alright. Here is how the rest of the conversation went:

Me: Casey is fine, but your little boy pushed him from behind for no reason.

Mean Mom: Well he's non-verbal and doesn't understand. Sorry

Me: I understand what it's like to have a non-verbal child, but that isn't an excuse for him to push my son without saying sorry. I think it would be best for him to apologize so he understands.

MM: Johnny (made up name), come here please. (running after him at this point)
You made this little boy upset because you pushed him. We don't push our
friends. Say you're sorry.

At this point, Johnny is squirming and screaming.

Me: Thank you.

I walk away with Casey in my arms. He and I go to the sandbox and start digging. I don't want him anywhere near those kids. Five minutes later, there were two older boys from the group that were inside a crawl space under the equipment. They had two dump trucks. Casey likes to play with older boys so I just followed to see what would happen. Mean Mom's older boy screamed "Ewww, go away baby!" and threw dirt in Casey's face. Mean Mom was no where to be found (typical) so I stepped in. I told this little devil spawn that what he did was not nice and he needed to apologize right away for throwing dirt at Casey. I explained that Casey likes to play with older boys because they are fun. I don't think it mattered to devil spawn.

Shortly before we left, I noticed devil spawn terrorizing another child. He told the boy that he didn't want to play with him because he was "weird". On the occasion that Mean Mom stepped in, she just calmly told the boy he needed to share and to be nice to his friends. No discipline, no consequences for his behavior, nothing.

I had to fight back what I really wanted to say to this mother, but I'll let the future slap her in the face when her kids are older and wards of the state.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I no longer have to keep us both afloat

This summer, C (Wes' para-pro) has invited us over to swim on many occasions. Wes was still pretty new with the whole pool/water thing. We had our downfall with a local pool, but he enjoyed visiting C and dipping his toes into her pool. Occasionally, she'd get him into the pool and make him realize that he can touch and everything is alright. He loved sitting on a lounger and floating around while everyone else swam.

After one failed attempt at a floatation device , I tried another . With a little adjustment, Casey was swimming on his own in no time. Of course, I'm always right behind him in case something happens, but before I knew it, he was turning on a dime and enjoying every minute. Wes on the other hand, was still a land lover. I figured that if I didn't just help him jump in with both feet (pun intended) that he'd never learn to swim and never enjoy the water like his brother. Being the mean Mommy that I am, I grabbed him, carried him a bit to the deep end and told him to kick his feet and swim to me. He caught on real quick but wasn't happy with me. As a matter of fact, he had this death grip like a boa constrictor. I gave him breaks in between the impromptu lesson and before long, he was asking for C and I to let go so he could swim. At one point, both C and I were in the deep end with both boys just swimming away. We kept some noodles handing in case we needed to carry them back to the shallow end, but they weren't needed. When it was time to go, both boys were not happy. Wes cried and nearly had a tantrum when he was told pool time was over.

I couldn't be more proud of my boys. I should know by now that with just a little push out of his comfort zone, that he'd succeed at this. Sometimes you just have to force the kid into taking on a task head on, even with the kicking and screaming. If you could have seen his face beaming with pride and the excitement on his face with every jump into the water, you would have made the same choice as I did. My one regret is that I didn't teach him sooner and now summer is nearly over. All the public pools have been closed for the season so he won't have as many opportunities before it gets too cold.

If you have a swimmer who's intimidated with the water, invest in one of those swim suits. They are great! And to think I debated on not buying them because it was the end of the season. Thanks Honey!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I won!!

After pushing, pleading my case, and more pushing as nicely as I could, I won! Wes will have the same para-professional that he did last year. One constant in the next turbulent month. One familiar face, familiar demeanor and familiar love. I won a battle that is part the special education war. I feel triumphant! Wes' para-pro, C, has been wonderful. I really can't say enough about her. She knows exactly how much she can push Wes to get him to achieve his next goal. She knows that if she pushes just a little more then he wants to tolerate, he'll come out on the other side better then he was. I trust her. She taught Wes how to jump in a matter of two weeks, where I had no luck for months. She also taught him to use a big kid swing, where again, not me. Honestly, I don't think I could handle this year without her. Next year, I'll have to swallow hard and step aside for a new para-pro, I know this. But I'm not going to think about that right now. Right now, I won!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Okay, I'm better now.

As my good friend told me, there will be ups and downs, just like the waves in the ocean. She's right. This friends life isn't all that different from my own. She, too has a child with a disability. She, too has one parent who works and one who stays at home. She, too knows how emotional this all can be. Our only differences are that her beautiful little boy has physical differences where as Wesley has behavioral differences. She works outside of the home while her husband takes care of their boys.

So, I just came from a really big wave that sent me really deep this time. I know there will be more, but I also know that the upswing isn't far away and I just need to look around me for the people who are trying to pull me up.

I have a lot of catching up to do! Last Monday I had a feeding and swallowing specialist come and meet with Wesley and myself. I've been trying to get someone for months to help me figure out his food issues and how to work around them. This is where the quick drop in the wave started. The specialist gave me an abundance of ideas to work with Wesley, but she mentioned how it would be easier if I did them alone, without Casey. I'm not sure if she understands that these two boys are attached at my hip with crazy glue. They don't come off. Not to mention that Wesley is a strong willed child. When he doesn't want to do something, he flies off the handle. That leaves me to not only deal with him while he's melting down, but to pick up the pieces when the tantrum is all over. Day after day after day of this can really take it's toll on someones emotional well being as well as psychological well being. We started yesterday using shredded carrot. He does an action (holding, smelling, kissing, tasting) 5 times for a count of 5. Each time, he gets a goldfish cracker. Once he completes two rounds, he gets to play with a special toy he's been jonesing for since he found it in my closet. I was saving said toy for his birthday.

Still waiting for school to start. As luck would have it, they decided to hold the Open House the day before school starts and that's Wes' follow up with the GI doctor. I'm going to sneak him in during the morning Open House for the A.M. preschool class. I still don't know who is para-professional will be. I'm drafting an email for the preschool coordinator because I want to know before school starts, not when it starts. I don't think these people know who they are dealing with. The boys and I have been taking walks over to the new school to play on the playground. I had a talk with Wesley a few times about this being his new school, but his same friends would be there with some new friends. All of his teachers will be there too. I'm hoping he understands and this will make the transition a bit easier. I'm debating whether it's a good idea to take him the first day or to let the bus take him and start the routine off right from the start. I really want to take him, but I know there are many changes for him already.

I'm proud to say that Casey has learned the art of swimming 2 year old style. I bought these Speedo swimming suits with built in floaters. We were invited over to Wes' para-pro's house to swim. Casey has become more and more comfortable in the water and this time, he jumped in and swam. It was an unconventional position but it worked for him. He was vertical rather then horizontal and his tiny little legs were kicking a mile a minute. Gradually, I had less and less grip on him, until I was just following him closely behind and he was swimming on his own. I'm so proud of him! His verbal skills are increasing daily. It amazes me that I can carry on a conversation with him and he responds. He's a pro at the art of manipulation at the tender age of 2. That's my boy!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Mom Overboard

I feel like I can't breathe.

I'm alone.

Swimming in this ocean with no life vest.

To make matters worse, I'm desperately trying to keep my child above water.

I'm failing.

I'm trying to keep this persona that I've got it covered, I'm in control, that everything is going fine. It's not and I can't keep up that image anymore. I don't know what I'm doing. The moment I think I have Wes figured out and things are working, I lose it and they stop. These are the days that I feel like an inadequate parent and wonder what the hell God was thinking giving me a special needs child. I'm not equipped to handle him. I'm not even equipped to be a parent. I need to find peace in my life, but where do I squeeze that in?

Maybe tomorrow will be better. Maybe.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

One poop at a time.

Yesterday was Wes' appointment with the GI in Boston. We dropped Casey off with Nana and Auntie and we headed out. I was a little anxious because Boston traffic can be a nightmare and I didn't want to be late for our appointment. Luckily (and after a couple misses) we made it on time. The hospital was huge and a bit confusing. Multiple elevators later, we arrived.
Silly me didn't come as prepared as I should have. I only packed snacks and Wes' blanket. I brought the portable DVD player, but that was to play in the car. What was I thinking? Wes did relatively well. We only had to reprimand him twice for taking off down a hallway. It was 45 minutes between when our appointment actually was and when we were ushered into a room. Another (what seemed like a year) 5 minutes later, the doctor came in.
He was not really what I expected. He took the time to ask for the life and times of Wesley starting with birth. He asked us lots of questions and made sure to explain everything to us. I told him of my concerns and what I ultimately wanted to achieve coming to see him. I wanted to figure out Wes' bowel issues and correct them so he doesn't need medication for the rest of his life or until we get him to eat better. Which ever comes first. So our route was to test him for some common allergies and start from there. They are testing him for wheat, soy, casein, corn, strawberries, tomatoes, nuts, and that's all I can remember off the top of my head. Poor kid had 6 vials of blood drawn. He was not a happy camper and it took 3 phlebotamists and me to hold the child down. All in all, he was a trooper though. We'll be going back in 4 weeks to go over the results and decide our next step.
Someone recommended (not in his practice) that we have Wes tested for heavy metals. Again, I'm torn with this. I'm not sure if this Dr. would test for those and if he doesn't, that probably would mean going to a DAN! doctor. Both Tim and I are against chelation. We refuse to put our child through anything like that with the possibility of death just to change who he is. That's a tiraid for another day.
So that's that. Once we go to the follow up, I'll have more info to share.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Pool (un)party

It's Friday. There's no school. No real agenda. Just, Friday. I wanted to take the boys to our community pool for a swim before lunch. The pool opens at 10 and I figured it would give them ample time to play and wear themselves right out.

There are multiple pools in this city, but only one that opens at 10am during the week. The rest aren't open until after lunch which bugs me. I know the city is on a tight budget and they don't want to pay all those lifeguards so I just deal. Anyway, the park that the pool is located is going through some changes. They are making a larger parking lot, which is needed, and updating the fields. The old parking lot is closed and people must park on the street. For some reason, this change didn't hit me until we had parked on the street and Wes started the climb that is a meltdown. We pushed through it. I loaded both boys into the stroller, grabbed our bag of towels and such and off we went down the path. As we got closer, I didn't see the little water toys on and thought maybe they weren't opening the pool this morning. I started to panic just a little. The closer we got, I could tell they were just getting it open and we were all set.

I pulled the stroller into the pool area and parked it in a corner. One of the lifeguards started the water mushroom , and this triggered the full on meltdown. Wes sat on the stroller, practically curled up in a ball crying and shaking while covering his ears. I was a bit confused because we had been to this pool multiple times this year and never had this problem before. What on earth was going on with him?! Casey ran into the water and started playing. He was having fun already, but it was no picnic for Wes.

I picked him up, stroked his back and started counting. Sometimes that calms him down. This didn't work. Over and over he repeated "shoes please" and "time to go". I told him that he would be okay but he just covered his ears even harder. I rocked and hugged him tight. I wasn't sure if I should get him to push through it or just pack up and cut our losses right there. I let him go back to the stroller and Casey and I swam for a little bit. I felt horrible letting him cry, but I felt just as horrible dragging Casey out of there after we just got there. What was I going to do? I decided to pack it up and go home.

While walking back to the car, I asked Wesley if the sound of the water hurt his ears. I didn't really expect a response but I got one. He looked me straight in the eye and said "yes". So I asked again just to be sure and I got another "yes". I knew that it must have by the way he was blocking his ears, he wouldn't open his eyes and of course the near screaming.

Then the flood of emotions hit. I felt horrible for not getting him out of there right away. I felt sad because Casey was having so much fun and we had to leave so early. I felt a bit irritated that that's one more thing we can't do this summer. I know that last one is horrible of me, but it's what I felt. I tried not to let that one show.

I hope that the start of school will help him organize himself and get him back into his rhythm. This summer was not very pleasant but I'm learning from it and next summer will hopefully be better.