Tuesday, March 5, 2013

This Girl

This one didn't come with an instructional manual either.  But it would have been nice.

Mimi's awesome PreK class is celebrating Seuss week, and yesterday was mismatched day.  Mimi took her task quite seriously.

She picked out the headband and "Patrick's Day magic bow tie" (as she named it) while shopping with me yesterday morning.  She wore them as she ran around JoAnn's (ugh, I hate JoAnn's) like a chicken with her head whacked off, and occasionally I could hear, Hey, why is everybody laughing at me???

Really, Mimi?

Mommy, why are they all laughing at me?  I'm just wearing my Suess day clothes.  That's not very nice.

Another PreK mom told me how Mimi was showing everyone her dance moves during circle time, so I told Mimi that I had heard about this.  She suddenly made a mad face and said, But I'm not ever, ever dancing at school again.  Everybody was laughing at me!

I explained they were laughing because she was funny.  Mimi, don't you know that you're a funny kid?

Mommy!  I'm not funny!
Then what are you?

I'M CUTE!!!!

Sheesh.  And she is pretty cute.  Let's just hope the elderly lady we saw who was seriously stooped over thought she was cute, too.  Or let's just hope she was very hard of hearing because Mimi had some very loud and silly opinions about why she was walking like that.  Seriously, instruction manual, please.

Now that Mack is in preschool for 2 whole hours a week (we're bumping up to another morning in a couple of weeks!  4 whole hours -- goooo, Mack!), Mimi and I get some quality time together.  Yes, it's awesome to have her when she doesn't feel the need to compete with her brother.  She told me at least a thousand stories about Olivia the Pig over coffee and chocolate milk at Starbuck's.  Who doesn't love stories about pig?

Thank goodness Mimi isn't the only silly girl I know.  This one comes a close second :)  

And by the way, I am NOT pregnant with a baby.  Just in case you were wondering.  I actually already had it, and if you're confused it's because you weren't paying attention . . . he he he.

Until there are more shenanigans . . .

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Growing Up

I noticed this week that my children are no longer babies.

You see this kid?  Super Stinker?  He's finally not sitting in a high chair with a sippy cup.

At one time in my life, I would consider other things success, but this week in my life THIS is a huge success.

And he's so proud of himself.

He was making a crazy mess in his high chair and throwing everything on the floor.  But put him at the counter with a real cup of milk and he's so careful.  He even smiles and claps for himself after almost every sip.

Up until a couple of months ago, I pretty much thought most everything I was doing with my children was wrong.  They weren't doing enough for themselves.  Mimi wasn't interested in learning to write letters and numbers.  Mack wasn't talking much.

But after a revolving door of therapists (Mack is getting speech therapy, occupational therapy, AND developmental therapy), I have learned two things:



Whoa.  Heavy stuff.  Of course I should know this.  Duh.  Every person is different.  I should be accepting.  But not with my children.  They will be exactly who I mold them to be.

Yeah, right.  So what I'm learning through all of Mack's therapy is that children are not all nurture.  Of course I should do my part in trying to teach them to be wonderful little people, but there is a whole lot going on in their little bodies that I cannot control.  It's just the way they're wired.

So now I can let myself off the hook.  It's not my fault!  I'm not such a bad mom after all!!  Yay, me!!

Anyway, the reason all this therapy started is because Mack has something called Sensory Processing Disorder.  It's not cancer.  He's not going blind.  We will be okay.  But our little family has some things to work on because Mack is wired a little differently.

This is going to sound crazy, but I was sooooo relieved to hear that D word -- disorder.  I wanted to shout from the rooftops "This is not all my fault!  The tantrums and the not talking and the social issues.  Not all my fault.  Hooray!"  Many moms put too much pressure on themselves and I have been one of those.  I have tried not to, but there were just so many things with Mack I couldn't "fix."  Have you met my family?  My husband, my daughter, and I know how to talk.  Why can't we teach Mack?  I was an English teacher.  Why can't I teach him to talk?  Why does he shy away from social situations?  The rest of us like people.  Why does he destroy every freaking toy in sight?  His father and I don't do that.  I tell him no.  What gives?  Why can't I raise him exactly the same way I raise my daughter and get the same result?

Because I can't.  Because all children are different.  And I need to accept my monkeys just the way they are.

If you know anything about this SPD business, please hunt me down because we need to talk.  I know no one who has a child with this (other than the over-sensitive kind, which he is not), and totally thought it was made up bologna until I took a little test on-line and holy moly I checked every single box for his type.

Does he crash and destroy?  Yes.
Does he grind his teeth and stomp?  Yes.
Does he shy away from eye contact?  Yes.
Does he stuff his mouth when he eats?  Yes.
Does he barely react to hurting himself?  Yes.
Does he have trouble regulating himself?  Hell Yes.

And the list goes on and on and on.  Basically, Mack doesn't process sight, touch, and sound the same way most of us do.  He may hear what I say, but it totally doesn't register if a lot is going on.  He sees so much that he can't focus on one thing.  He doesn't feel comfortable sitting still and must constantly move to feel everything around him.  And if he isn't regulated, then he can't learn to talk or be social.  Therapy is already helping me see exactly what this is and how to help him cope with these symptoms. I've learned that we need to keep his environment as calm and comfortable as possible, and then he will begin communicating.  Remember sitting in Biology when you were hungry, tired, and upset from a recent break-up?  How could you focus to learn when your needs weren't met?  So now I just need to make sure his needs are met.

One thing the therapists told me to chill out about is the pacifier.  Mack's strength is knowing that he is about to freak out, and he tells us this by asking for his paci, trying to leave the room to get away from too many people, or other ways.  In the past I tried to make him deal with whatever was bugging him, but now I've learned to let him have his minute and he can rejoin the group after he has a break.

So the Darby home has been a bit calmer and the little guy has begun talking more.  His favorite phrase is "Dere you go" in a sweet little sing-songy voice.  He finally says "milk" instead of pointing and crying at the refrigerator.  Also, he's paying a bit more attention to others.  He occasionally walks up to random kids (usually really cute girls) and gives them a hug and pats their heads.  He also pushes, but he has a sweet smile on his face as he's doing it.  Somebody needs to explain to the crying victim on the floor (and the parent) that he's just saying hello . . . 

He's still as sweet and snuggly as always, and Clint and I were relieved to hear that it's okay to "baby" this one for a little bit longer.  Being hard on him isn't the best solution like it may be with his sister.  

Yes, he is standing on the counter.  And, yes, he would totally jump if I wasn't standing right there.  I can't take my eyes off this one for a second.  Which is why I am exhausted All. The. Time.

While this does affect the way he communicates, he is still taking in a lot.  Mack is a smart little boy.  He is very visual and can figure out puzzles and memory games quickly.  He likes to clean up and organizes his Goldfish Rainbow crackers by color.  He has many of the Gangnam Style moves memorized.  And so does his daddy.

He's obsessed with electronics and knows how to find anything (and change settings) on our phones and computers.

But most importantly, he is so, so very sweet.  He lets me hold him and sing to him, and he rubs his sisters eyes and hugs her when she cries (even if he caused it).  He likes to laugh and dance and he smells really, really good.

And moving on to this little girl.  She never ceases to surprise me.

Just a few months ago I was so very frightened that she would fail preschool (if that's possible).  She didn't care about learning and just wanted to play.  Kindergarten is serious business these days, and I was very worried my daughter who barely meets the cut-off date would make it with the older kids.  The list of items she needs to know before starting kindergarten was a lot longer than her attention span.  She wouldn't sit for ten seconds to finish coloring a picture.  She didn't want to attempt to do anything for herself.  And she didn't care.

During Christmas she wrote her name.  Then she randomly started asking me if mouse and house rhyme or dog and log.  If she hears a long word like situation, she wants me to clap out the syllables with her.  She asks me who the author of her bedtime story is.  She wants to know if frozen pizza is healthy (and I say of course).  She wants to know why we don't hibernate and how long it takes for a Halloween pumpkin to decompose.  Tonight she sat at Fernando's and colored the entire Mickey Mouse eating a salad page INSIDE the lines and didn't touch her food until she finished.  And there it is.  Her curiosity has gotten the best of her and she's ready to learn.

I have always known Mimi is smart -- but I had begun believing that maybe academically not so much.  I had dinner with a friend recently who told me that she just wasn't ready and that learning would happen suddenly.  And suddenly it has.

When I was in first grade, I sat at my big square desk with my gigantic pack of Crayolas (with the built-in sharpener) and worked on my coloring pages like it was my J-O-B.  I pretended to be interviewed for a segment on Sesame Street or the Disney Channel about my amazing coloring abilities.  Wow.  We've never seen a six-year-old able to choose such the perfect shade of Cyan.  But somehow that was pretty much all I did for the first half of the morning in Mrs. Shumaker's class.  I had forgotten about this until recently.  I didn't want to learn to read early.  I still wanted my mom to tie my shoes.  I had no interest in phonics or telling time or adding buttons in a jar.

All children are different.  Accept them for who they are.  And suddenly it has happened for me, too.