Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Like a Boss

Recently, Stow turned three...

Scooter by Mom, hat by Big Sissy.
...like a boss.

We hadn't had a party in a long time, so we decided to throw a birthday/Memorial Day/survived-an-unbelievably-long-winter-and-third-back-surgery party. Stow likes cars and trucks and digging, so the obvious choice was a construction party.

Big Sissy came and performed her usual awesomeness on the cakes.

The non-GFCF cake.
GFCF brownies with icing--notice the fork damage?
I'm way too cheap to have a fancy gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free cake made, so I picked up some GFCF brownie mix and icing for the kids and ordered a good ol' store-bought cake (with butter cream icing, yum!) for the rest of us.

Third birthdays are my favorite, and Stow rocked it. If friends came bearing gifts, he took them to the gift table, chanting, "My present. My present." When it came time for the cake, he waited (somewhat patiently), beaming as people sang for him before blowing out the candles right on cue. Of course, he also managed to dig his fork into both cakes before anyone could stop him. Then again, what do you expect from a boy who sincerely believed all the food and drink were just for him?

Stow single-handedly cleaning out the snacks before the first guests arrive.


Turning three also means Stow has "aged out" of the Early Intervention (EI) therapies he's been getting for most of the past two years. Two days before Stow's birthday, a certificate arrived for him in the mail. It read: "Congratulations! You have successfully completed the Early Intervention Program." Woo hoo! Stow successfully turned three! Tomorrow I fully expect a certificate congratulating me for getting out of bed on a Wednesday.

Don't get me wrong. I appreciate the gesture and have been happy with the various supports that EI has provided; I just have very mixed feelings about the fact one "ages out" of it. I could do without a certificate reminding us of this big and somewhat scary transition. Plus, I forgot to take pictures of Stow with all the therapists who have worked with him the last two years, so now I'm feeling bummed about how totally unprepared I seem to be for this whole thing (even now).

The good news (I guess) is that Stow will go directly into the early education program at the local public school (with his very own IEP and everything). It's a logical next step for a kid who has experienced as many delays and who shows so many gaps (even still) in his development, but it's still a bit heart-wrenching. I think we both believed that maybe all of our work was enough to get him beyond this particular set of challenges, so it's hard not to be bummed that it hasn't. Thank goodness there's a safety net! Funny how some things can be so good and so heartbreaking all at the same time -- kind of like when you realize your youngest is growing up, and there's not a darn thing you can do to stop it.***


***Yes, I realize this is a post full of half-formed ideas. That's why I included more pictures than usual--you know, to make up for my complete inability to come up with five coherent paragraphs. Why you gotta be so critical anyway? Sheesh.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

So Apparently I Shouldn't Be Allowed to Hang Pictures

My parents came to visit. They were nice enough to point out something none of you, my fine readers, had the guts to point out. All of the pictures I hung are too far apart. Of course, they immediately set about remedying the problem and proceeded to hang the rest of our pictures.

284 days after our move, we finally have all the pictures on the wall. So, finally, I can show you Stow's room.

The paint "Lone Star Quilt" was our biggest shock when we finally moved into the house. The color, which seemed so mellow on the tiny sample card, radiated all the way into the hall and screamed at me down the steps. But then we started putting our stuff in it: the fish rug from the old play room and the storage baskets from Sky's old room. And suddenly I realized it was the perfect color. It even kind of matches the train pictures I'd bought on sale months before our move. Let's just call it dumb luck.

Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

In Which I Go to a Kindergarten Concert and Have an Epiphany

Pink P’s kindergarten concert was today. For more than a week, she repeatedly explained to me what kind of clothes and shoes she was supposed to wear and how she wasn't supposed wear a dress unless she also wore tights or shorts under it. Before we left, she also reminded me that she needed a flashlight and that we should get there at least 15 minutes beforehand to find a decent seat. In short, she was completely and totally prepared.

Sky's concert was back in December, and our "preparations" was much different. First, were the repeated negotiations about why it was necessary to stand and sing in front of a crowd of total strangers. Then there was the social story about standing still, ignoring all the distracting people in the gym, and what he would be doing in the minutes before and after their performance. There were also numerous e-mails checking and re-checking that it was okay for him to wear what he planned to wear for the concert.

On the day of the concert, I had a hard time enjoying it. Waiting for his class to take the stage, I worked to repress memories of school shows past. Of being pubicly shamed during his preschool show when he did things beyond embarrassing and all the other parents stared at us. Of being told by teachers that he should know better by now. We understand a lot more now than we did then, but concerts are still hard for Sky. For us.

When his class came out, I had to force myself not to slide to the end of my seat and grip the edge of the bleacher. As they sang, Sky bounced around, shifted from side to side, scanned the faces of the parents packing the gym, played with his hands, talked to neighbors, and probably remembered to sing about 40% of the time. During his class’s special performance, he stood distractedly twirling his xylophone mallets (instead of using them to make music like everyone else in his class was doing) as he intently counted the lights hanging from the ceiling in the gym. At one point, Pink P leaned over and asked in a ridiculously loud voice, "Mommy, why is Sky doing that?" Of course, there was really no good answer, particularly since any explanation I could have offered would have required me to yell over the din of whatever song they were singing. Sky was doing exactly what he needed to do to get through this. And, in the end, he did really well, even if his "really well" looked a lot different than everyone else's.

Sitting through Pink P's concert today was an entirely different experience. I didn't slide to the edge of my seat, heart pounding, willing her to make the right choices and to keep her impulses under control. I wasn't trying to mouth the words so she could sing along, flashing her hand signals meant to help her stay on track. I wasn't dreading all the possible things that could go wrong. I was just sitting there peacefully watching a hundred six-year olds sing about friendships and mothers and all the beautiful stars. Pink was engaged and enthusiastic (and awesome!). But, what was so extraordinary about her concert was that it was all so completely ordinary.

As I sat thinking about this, I started to pick out the kindergarten kids who were like Sky --the girl whose eyes wandered and who seemed to be dancing to an entirely different beat, the boy whose sound effects could sometimes be heard over the singing of his classmates. I didn’t notice them at first, but the more I thought about what it’s usually like for me to sit through one of these programs, I started to wonder which of the moms and dads around me were sitting on the edges of their seats silently willing their kids to just get through this thing.

I looked around to see if I could spot those parents in the audience, but as I watched the faces of the other moms and dads, I found something unexpected, instead. I found that in that hot gym filled to every crevice by the cacophonous sound of 100 kindergarteners singing, everyone was focused on his or her own kid. No one cared that the one girl kept lifting her shirt or the other boy kept flapping his hands. Most people just seemed to be enjoying the music.

Here’s hoping some day soon I figure out how to do the same!