"Don't come back to school ever again. Nobody likes you. I hate you."
Let the words settle in your ears.
For me, they bypassed every sense I had and cut straight into my heart.
Those evil, terrible words were directed at my little baby boy - a kid whose only crime is wanting to be friends with everyone.
These words came from another little boy in his class - William. Day in and day out, Vincent cries to me about how mean William is. Every night at bedtime, Vincent tells me he doesn't want to go to school because William hits him. Each time I speak to his teacher, it's about William bullying my son.
Yesterday when I picked him up was the last straw. I watched as William shoved Vincent. Vincent, for his part, did not shove back. He only cried and screamed out for a teacher and came running to me saying, "Mommy, see? William hit me. He hit me so bad."
My heart broke. When he cried out to me, it was almost with relief. It was like he was happy William shoved him in front of me so I could have proof that all the mean things he told me about William were true.
I never doubted him. He had the bruises to prove it. Bruises I confronted his teacher about. Bruises I was told resulted from regular child's play.
I knew better, and I was never going to let him be hurt by this child again.
As we were leaving daycare, William snarled at him with the words above.
"Don't come back to school ever again. Nobody likes you. I hate you."
In that moment, I wanted to tear that little boy to pieces. He had the audacity to say such a mean and hateful thing with me standing right next to Vincent! However, God was good. It was as if my persona grew to encompass and protect Vincent. None of the words he said were heard by Vincent because they simply bounced off my protective cocoon. Instead of giving him a death stare, I told him that his words were very mean. Good little boys don't talk so mean to their friends, and bustled Vincent out of the class, never to be seen by that horrid child again.
On the way to my mother's, it was all I could do not to cry. I was so angry that this child had been so mean to Vincent. I was so upset that Vincent had spent a month with him... I felt guilty that I'd had no other option.
But no more. I didn't care if I had to quit my job the next day, there was no way I would ever allow Vincent to walk through those doors again. It was obvious his teacher didn't take William's malice seriously, and it was obvious the other staff didn't care that Vincent was so upset by him.
My husband and I both witnessed him throwing blocks at other students, and John saw him slap a little girl.
As I was stewing over how terrible this child was, I realized that he had to have learned this behavior somewhere. All of my anger and disgust for him translated instantly into disdain for his parents. My heart then broke for William who was obviously the brunt of this behavior at home. No child is born acting this way. No child wakes up and thinks, "I can't wait to terrorize another person."
No. That behavior is conditioned into a child by someone they look up to... someone they trust. And the fact that he acted so hateful in front of me, Vincent's mother, was like a punch to the gut.
Did he not understand that I would shield Vincent? That such mean words would be met with some sort of reprimand?
Not if his own mother doesn't protect him... if his own mother isn't reprimanding a boyfriend or husband or sibling who is saying such things to him.
Do I know if it's his mother? Of course not. But it's obviously someone close to him that has bred such anger within him.
The rest of the car ride to my mother's house was spent in tears for this child. How terrible to be only 3.5 years old and have been influenced by hate to such a degree.
For now, Vincent is being watched by a friend who has a little boy, herself. God was good to give us this option right when we so desperately needed it.
I was looking for a new book for Vincent the other day when I came across Press Here by Herve Tullet on sale at Walmart. It was listed as a NYT bestseller.
A kids' book?
Color me curious.
So I picked it up and paged through it. IMMEDIATELY I understood why it was such a hit. This concept is brilliant, and it provides a perfect backdrop to get kids interested and excited about reading.
The concept is simple. Kids are active. They like to learn by play. What better way to learn "reading" than to get them "reading" with their hands?
A little yellow dot is our main character, but the true protagonist is your finger! The text coaxes you in easy language to "press," "shake" and "tilt" the book in various ways. Each time you do so, you see the result of such actions on the next page.
Vincent really thought he was somewhat magic as the dots changed colors, multiplied and moved as the pages flipped by.
For an SPD kid like Vince, this is a PERFECT way to get him to sit still and read through a full story because it allows him to experience tactile sensation as he follows the prompts. I wish I had a video of him screeching, laughing and clapping with joy each and every time we read. Without fail he asks for it at least twice (many times more) and has yet to be bored of it. In fact, he tries to read it on his own now, and I can tell he's picking up some of the words based on repetition. What's not to love?
And the fun doesn't end there. Press Here has become so popular that apps have been created. I downloaded a free one onto the iPad so he can take the fun with him without ripping the pages in an overly enthusiastic turn.
I highly recommend it - especially for children like Vince who can use the extra sensory boost.
It's pricey, but if you can find one used / on sale (like I did), it's worth EVERY.SINGLE.PENNY.
Now I've gotta try to snag a video of Vince reading through it next time. The trailer below fails to capture the pure joy these kids get out of the book. :)
John and I were both out of commission this weekend due to a terrible cold we caught from Vince. Vince, for his part, was much better (yay!), but for John and I, the cold was just hitting its stride.
As a result, we spent the entire weekend either in bed or on the couch (typically rotating who was where so Vince had at least one set of un-drugged eyes looking after him).
I felt bad that we couldn't do much beyond a few minutes of floor play with him. We were both just so sapped of any energy that it was a challenge just to drag ourselves from bed. It was such a beautiful weekend, and our poor son had to spend it cooped up in the house.
What do you folks do on days like this? I hate to admit it, but we definitely resorted to the television. It was on non-stop with barely a break or two in there for board games or play-fighting with swords.
I admit, however, that we both enjoyed giving each other "stamps" by way of magic markers. I'd draw a happy face on his hand, then he'd drawn one on mine. I'd draw a star on his leg, he'd draw one on my arm. This went on for quite a while until it looked like we'd gotten ourselves into a messed up tattooing contest. I actually had to scrub him down a bit with wet wipes before my husband thought he'd caught a wild disease. *Grin*
There have to be some good activities that will keep him occupied, help him spend some energy, and not have me terrified he's off playing with knives. ;)
I’m not sure where to begin with this entry, so I guess I’ll just start at the beginning.
Many of you are aware that Vincent was practically deaf for the first two years of his life. I had to fight long and hard to get him approved for the surgery that would finally allow him to hear the world around him clearly.
That surgery was completed the day after his 2nd birthday.
Since that time, he’s seen both occupational and speech therapists to help him “catch up” to the verbal / comprehension level of his peers. Test after test has proven Vincent is intellectually at level (or above) for things like reading / math, but when it comes to actually speaking and following directions, he’s still lagging significantly behind other kids his age.
Well, about a year ago, his case worker decided that he needed to be tested for Autism. I immediately rebelled. I’ve taught plenty of children on the spectrum. Vincent doesn’t “fit” on the spectrum. Plus, I knew that if he was tested by the district, they would be obliged to share those results with every public school in the area, and I absolutely refused to allow my not-yet-3 year old son to be labeled.
They argued that they wouldn’t continue services without the test, so I showed them the door. I was so angry. I remember that final meeting clearly. I told them in no uncertain terms that they could take their theories and shove them. I would NEVER allow testing of my 2 ½ year old son for autism given they hadn’t even taken into consideration the 2 years he spent in a mostly soundless world. I was so sure they wanted to slap a label on him and be done with it that I could’ve torn their heads off.
So I not-so-charitably told them to find the door and let it smack ‘em on the way out. Children should never be so carelessly categorized.
I explained the situation to my mother and best friend (mom’s a kindergarten teacher and Mary has her Masters in psychology). I asked if I was just being a blind parent. Were they seeing something that I was just refusing to?
They assured me I wasn’t being blind and they, too, were surprised the district was pushing so hard for such testing.
Fast forward a few months. I noticed that he was still having difficulties with eye-contact and comprehension. Speech had gotten significantly better, but comprehension was still lagging. I was consistently finding him off by himself as opposed to playing with his peers.
I admit, flags were going up, but I still didn’t believe Autism was the answer.
As the months progressed, and signs of Vince being slightly “off” piled up, I began to have doubts about my read. Was I too close to him to really be objective? Was I allowing some sort of fear to inoculate myself against the prospect of Autism?
I again brought the issues forth to Mary and my mother. Both of them assured me – again- that I wasn’t ignoring anything and I wasn’t trying to convince myself that he was perfect. However, both of them agreed there might be some underlying issue that none of us could put our fingers on.
So that brought us to his first day of preschool I’ve been excited about for the last two years.
After speaking with the principal (and the teacher - both of whom, by the way, are complete rock stars), I decided it would be best to come in to observe Vincent, myself. I took the day off and just watched him. Sure enough, everything they said was spot on. He was defiant, aggressive, and he screamed at both his teacher and the aid. I was dumbfounded.
The principal, his old daycare teacher, and myself had a bit of a pow-wow to discuss what was happening. His old teacher was just as surprised as I was to hear about the extreme change in Vincent. He was, after all, one of her favorites. She’s pregnant, and she noted Vincent was always very careful with both her and the baby he knew was inside her. He was friendly with the other children, and he never screamed or acted defiant.
Hearing this, I think, made the principal hopeful that Vince was just in the middle of transitioning to a new place. As a result of this conversation, she agreed to give me two weeks to help him make the transition. I agreed that, if at the end of the two weeks he was still a handful, we would make other arrangements.
Well, here we are two weeks later and Vincent is in a new school.
This was a very difficult experience for John and I. It was especially difficult for Vincent. I still feel terrible that we put him through such stress. I feel terrible that we put his teacher and classmates under such stress.
However, I’m grateful to God that we endured it because without it, I don’t think we’d finally be on the right track with getting him the help he so desperately needs.
You see, in my quest to deal with Vincent’s sudden changes in behavior, I reached out to everyone and anyone for help. In my search, I began getting suggestions for Autism testing again. My friend suggested he was oppositional defiant. My mom suggested Autism testing for Asperger’s.
I still refused to entertain the notion because my experience with teaching Autistic children shouted at me “No.”
There was something else, and I couldn’t figure out what it was. So I kept looking. I kept asking. I kept praying.
That’s when I ran into Cam’s post entitled “Mae’s Journey.”
Suddenly, the last two weeks of chaos and confusion began to come into crystalline focus.
You see, Cam did something incredibly brave. This isn’t surprising given that she’s been known to tackle some pretty big issues. However, this particular topic is different in that she publicly acknowledged that her precious little girl might not be “perfect” by society’s standards. Of course she’s perfect in God’s eyes, because she is exactly as He wished her to be, but no parent likes to paint anything but the rosiest picture of their darling children.
I’m the same way. I think most parents are.
Cam, however, took the incredibly brave step of noting the struggle she’s had trying to help Mae grow and learn. She, too, heard talk of Autism. However, she also heard talk of something called Sensory Processing Disorder or “SPD.”
Those three little letters jarred something within me.
I quickly grabbed his therapy notes off the shelf and combed through them. Sure enough, I noted the various “SPD” notes littered throughout. I remember asking his therapist what those letters meant. She, at the time, explained them as activities they did or techniques she used (weighted vest, hand combing, etc). I just accepted that the “SPD” was a code or something that they used to help keep track of the various exercises they did.
So once I realized “SPD” actually stood for something, I reached out to his therapist. We’re still friends via Facebook because she wanted to be able to keep up with Vincent even though he was no longer in her care.
I confronted her with the notes.
She admitted to me she had always been believed Vince to be a Sensory Seeker (a type of SPD). She wasn’t legally able to tell me because I guess she’s not a psychologist. Point is, she agreed to come over and observe him, herself, now that he was older.
She came and observed, confirming she believed him to have SPD.
The next few nights found me pouring through material online. The more I read, the more Vincent’s behavior made sense. I finally felt like my confusion was being answered.
This might sound weird, but it’s that feeling you get when you try on “the dress” for your wedding, I guess. Everyone who suggested something to “fit” Vince felt wrong. Autism, Asperger’s, ADD, ADHD, ODD… none of them felt right.
As soon as I read up on SPD and compared my research to Vincent’s erratic behavior, all the pieces of the puzzle lined up and I began to see my baby in a new light.
I’m currently waiting to hear back from the child-psychologist on when we can start therapy for him, but in the meantime, I’ve been doing my best to research ways to help him cope with new environments. Unsurprisingly, the various techniques I’ve learned via Pinterest and Google really have helped tremendously, even in such a short span of time. This just highlights for me that I’m on the right track.
Thank God! And thank you, Cam, for being such a brave mom to post such a personal struggle online. Without that entry, I don’t think I would’ve been able to put the pieces together for my own son.
Stuff I Found Helpful:
Free online seminars, webisodes, classes, etc. GREAT library on SPD-specific information.
Great jumping off points for folks curious to know how Autism is related to SPD.
Hugely helpful, this article is a blog entry by a mom with an SPD son who is very similar to Vincent.
SUPER helpful because it's written by a woman who, herself, struggled throughout childhood with SPD and has learned to cope as an adult. She, too, shares many similarities to Vincent.
Since this past week has been so frustrating and difficult for Vincent, I wanted to take him somewhere completely different to give him a chance to really run off some steam.
There is a massive playground a few towns over that he hasn't been to since he was very, very small. I decided that would be the perfect spot to forget the stress of his new environment and just have fun.
Vincent knew he was going "to the park" today, but he figured it was the one we regularly go to right around the corner. When we didn't make a right-hand turn off our street, he knew something was up. He started to whine, "No, Mommy. I want to go to the park. Turn right, Mommy. Turn right!"
I said, "Vincent, no whining. Mommy IS taking you to the park. We're going to a special park for you today. You're going to have SO much fun!"
He, however, was having none of that. He started to cry. I guess the poor kid was expecting his routine playground, and when his expectation for "normal" was once again smashed, he got upset.
I looked at him through the rear-view mirror and said, "Vincent, did Mommy tell you she was going to take you to the park today?"
He said, "Yes. I want the park."
"I'm going to take you to the park, Vincent. We're going to the park now. It's a BIG park with LOTS of fun things. You're going to like it, so stop crying, okay?"
His crying slowed to silent grumpiness. Clearly he did not trust Mommy to bring him to this big, awesome park that supposedly was better than his trusty old one.
I was confused as to where this distrust in me came from. I'm his Mom. When I tell him I'm gonna take him fun places, I take him fun places. Was the trauma of school really so much for him that he now thinks I've only got challenging things in store for him?
I drove on, but since this playground is a few towns over, it took longer than he's used to. He began to whine again that he wanted to go to the park.
I admit I was starting to get annoyed.
Then I felt this little knock on the head and an inner voice chuckling, "How do you think I feel when you do the same thing to Me?"
I really DO whine the exact same way when God tries to lead me down roads I want no parts of. I don't trust that He's leading me to goodness. I want to stick to my comfortable life of sin. What could Heaven possibly have that I can't find on my own down here on earth?
Vince's whining painted that picture better than any homily ever could. I was the crying kid who wasn't trusting her Father to take her to joy. How OFTEN I am that crying child.
And why? What has He ever done to cause me to doubt His goodness? Nothing. Some experiences have been tougher than others, sure. But all of them have helped me to grow when I've allowed them to. Heck, even when I've tried NOT to.
Point is, how often are we whining little children in the backseat of God's caravan?
We need to trust our Father to drive us to Heaven. It might take longer than expected. We might go down roads we're unfamiliar with... that might be a bit bumpy. But in the end, He's the very best driver there is, so we'd do well to trust Him.
By the time I'd finished that meditation, I was pulling my car into the parking lot of the playground. Vincent was in awe of how massive the structures were. It was pretty funny to see him go from whining to flipping out with excitement.
I imagine that's how we're going to be when we finally get to Heaven. In the end, we'll realize just how worth it that caravan ride really was, and we'll likely want to kick ourselves for all that pointless whining.
Here's a slideshow of Vince enjoying the playground. :)
After a great day developing a partnership with Vince's teacher and principal, a call today threw me for a complete loop.
Vince had eaten something that didn't agree with him, and as a result, he had an accident.
I got a phone call asking me to come for him immediately. Apparently they do not help children wipe themselves, adjust their clothing, and they certainly will not change a child's clothing after an accident.
I was beyond floored. I began to argue, but realized I wouldn't get my point across and didn't want Vince being forced to wait any longer than he had to for help. Sitting by himself in soiled clothing is not only unhygienic, it's embarrassing and upsetting. I told the teacher I'd speak to her and the principal later as I wanted to contact my husband (who was much closer) so he could come for Vince.
After calling John and making him aware of the situation, I got onto the computer and sent the following letter:
Dear Mrs. X and Principal X,
Obviously I'm contacting you regarding your wiping policy. Given I'd written to you this morning about the issue, I'm not altogether surprised it reared its head in this manner after lunch.
However, I'd like to make very clear that I am incredibly disheartened by this policy. As an educator who has been in this situation and changed children ranging from Pre-K through 3rd grade, I am surprised that you don't have some sort of plan in place in the event of an accident- even if that plan is the school nurse, a trusted health care professional.
I understand the basis for your policy. You're worried about legal repercussions should a child claim inappropriate behavior.
However, fear should never be a substantial reason to allow a child to suffer an embarrassing, harmful health situation - and that's exactly what this amounts to.
His bowel movement was an abnormal occurrence precipitated by something that didn't agree with his belly. As such, even if Mrs. X was unable to dedicate time to handle the situation because she had to attend to the class, there was an aid present. If the aid was also wrangling the class (given girls and boys use separate rooms), the nurse can surely be sent for.
But to leave a child for an indefinite amount of time in a soiled state because you're afraid of being sued, especially after I've made every effort to let you know that I do not view you as enemies, but as partners in my son's development, I'm just floored.
I've been in your situations. Both of you. I've been the teacher juggling 20 kids while trying to clean up the one who had an accident, and I've been the principal trying to protect her teacher from any sort of legal worry for being in close proximity to a child's genital area.
I understand FULLY where both of you are coming from. Now please understand where I am coming from.
I know full well that a child's fine motor skills (necessary for properly wiping himself) are not fully functional until they are between 4 and 5 years old. Vincent is not yet four. If you need me to, I can get a letter from his pediatrician. That being said, I expect that should he ever be sick and have an accident like this in the future (which should rarely happen, if it ever happens again at all), he be sent to the nurse's office with his change of clothes.
After all, why else would you request them unless you expected to use them in cases like this?
I am doing everything in my power to make this transition to school possible for Vincent. I am his willing advocate and I will gladly do everything in my power to fall in line with requests you make of me. This, however, has me baffled. You are effectively asking something of my son that is simply physically impossible for him at this point. He's able to use the bathroom and has some ability to wipe himself, but should he have an accident, there is no preschooler that can handle cleaning him or herself up without the help of an adult.
So as I mentioned above, if you need a letter from his pediatrician, I'd be more than happy to comply.
I received an e-mail from his teacher about an hour or so later, and just as I responded to her, I got a call from the principal.
I was spot on with my analysis regarding why they wouldn't touch him, but given the points I made and the obvious willingness I've shown in working together in establishing a partnership with them, the principal agreed to allow the nurse to help Vincent should this problem ever arise again.
However, it was clear that she still expected Vincent to be farther ahead regarding his bathroom capabilities. I'm still surprised by that given all of my experience with children Vince's age (and even older) has set my expectation that kids that age are going to have accidents and will sometimes need help wiping.
Have my experiences just been wildly different from everyone else's? What age were your children able to properly wipe themselves? Button their pants? Tuck in their shirts?
I dunno. I'm glad that his teacher agreed to help him when necessary, and I'm glad the principal agreed to have the nurse could help with this situation in the future, too. I felt like it was finally something I did right for my son. I'm all for challenging him, but setting an expectation so high that he has no chance of touching it seems excessive.
It's all due to these ridiculous laws put in place to "protect" children. All of this fear of pedophiles... we are our own undoing. The sins that we left fester have given us this as our legacy... stupid policies that end up hurting more than they help.
We're able to teach kids to masturbate and use condoms, but we can't help them with basic hygiene. What kind of world are we living in anymore?
God help us.
I love his teacher and his principal. I really do. They are beyond what I could have ever expected for Vince. Observing them only made me love and appreciate them more. They're in my prayers double-time for all the wonderful things they're doing for Vince and all the frustration they're putting up with on account of his difficulty transitioning. But this was just unacceptable to me, and I'm glad it was addressed sooner rather than later.
Really, I'm just glad I finally feel like I did something right for my kid. Seems I've been doing a bang up job of screwing things up lately. It's nice to have a victory every once in a while for him.
I took a personal day Thursday so I could stay at Vince's school and silently observe him to get a better feel for what was going on. His principal kindly rigged a little veil over the door for me so I could peek in without being detected.
I learned a lot that day. First and foremost, I was given confirmation that I'd made the right decision about where to send him. His principal and his teacher are rock stars. I know they are both dedicated to their kids and willing to go above and beyond to make sure they get the necessary care and attention they need. That is extremely gratifying, and I am incredibly thankful that I found such a wonderful place for him to grow.
Secondly, I got to see my son in a wholly new light. He was just as disruptive as they warned me he was. He was screaming in ways I'd never heard him scream before. That being said, I noted that much of his reactionary behavior was, as I had anticipated, completely understandable.
For example, he kept getting in trouble for not sitting where he was supposed to sit on the carpet. His teacher assigned a back spot for him, and he refused to stay there. He'd either get up and go to the table, or he'd try to sit closer to the front (typically squishing other kids in the process).
I immediately understood why he was doing that. First of all, his hearing is still not 100%, so he wants to sit closer to hear the stories better. Secondly, his job at his last daycare was "page-turner." He'd sit on the lap of the instructor and turn the pages of the book. He's probably confused as to why he's not turning the pages anymore, and might think that he's done something wrong to cause him to lose that privilege. So he keeps coming up over and over again to try to be where he thinks "his spot" is.
No one explained to him that he doesn't have the job of page-turner anymore. No one explained that since this is a new school, he has a new spot to sit and new "jobs" to do. When I explained that to his new teacher, a light bulb went off over her head and other little things like that fell into place.
Especially given how Vincent says how much he misses his old school and his old teachers, this really makes sense. He likely doesn't understand why he can't be with them anymore, and he certainly doesn't understand why he can't do all the things he used to do.
Then there were the transitions. It seemed to me that he was behind by 1 transition throughout the day.
For example, when it was time for circle, he'd be at the table. When the kids moved on from the circle to the library, he'd finally get in motion to move to the circle (and so on and so on). He is so slow and unwilling to transition that he was actually holding the class back from certain activities. The teacher and aid did their best to redirect him and get him on board in a timely fashion, but Vincent's frustration would kick in and he'd just shut down and ignore them.
I think that's the area I need to work on most. Transitioning has been one of the hardest things for him to feel comfortable with, and it's been an ongoing issue since he was a small child. It's why I've always been such a stickler for his schedules. Consistency really is key for my little munch, and now that his regular schedule is being transformed into something else entirely, he's confused and frustrated.
I'm hoping as this new schedule becomes more routine, he feels more confident and less confused. That, in itself, will help quell much of his frustration.
After I finished observations, I gave feedback to his new teacher and took feedback in turn. We shared a lot of good ideas and I'm implementing a few changes at home to help Vince keep the same level of consistency here as well as in school. She, for her part, will try some of my tricks for keeping Vince's focus and coaxing him into transitioning better.
At the end of the day, I felt as though a lot of progress had been made. I felt much better in Vince's chances for success there, and I hope his teacher and principal understood just how dedicated I am to getting him on the right track.
Keep those prayers coming, folks. I appreciate so much all the notes, ideas and comments you've sent. <3
It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like this much of a failure as a parent.
I got a call from Vincent’s principal this morning. My soon-to-be-four year old son was sent to the principal on his 3rd day of school.
Regardless of the situation, how can any parent say “Not my fault.”
On some level, it’s my fault. I did or didn’t do something right that caused him to act out in a negative way.
Friday afternoon, I was stopped by Vincent’s teacher and warned about his behavior. He was acting out by swatting at children and screaming at his teacher. He refused to follow directions and insisted on going off by himself over and over again.
When she said that, my heart practically tore itself in half.
“Going off by himself over and over again.”
Immediately images of him playing by himself in a room full of children as I picked him up from daycare flooded my mind. You guys have heard me talk about this before. I can’t help but feel responsible for my son’s social immaturity.
Aside from the fact that he was hearing-impaired his first two years (which stunted his speech and comprehension), he didn’t have much interaction with children his age outside of daycare. Why? Because he was never given a sibling.
I feel so angry and so guilty for this. When I heard the teacher cite the same exact symptom I was so keenly aware of every time I’d pick Vince up from daycare, I knew in my heart just how disadvantaged Vincent was made by the situation between my husband and I.
I immediately became livid. After putting Vince into the car, my blood pressure must’ve soared as I had visions of tearing into John for his selfishness… his thoughtlessness. How could he not see the damage he was doing to Vincent? All I wanted to do was scream and yell at him, myself. I wanted to punch and kick him. I wanted to do everything that Vincent had done as if John feeling it would somehow make him realize how incredibly wrong he was.
I quickly realized I needed to cool down. I almost felt like I wasn’t in my right mind. On a logical level, I fully understood that my rage was simply masking the root of my emotional maelstrom. I felt guilty and depressed; sad and hopeless. All of visions I had in my head of creating the perfect family environment for my children was taken away from me and I’d let it happen. I never provided Vincent the sibling I wanted him to have. Little Myla, the sister he has in Heaven, slipped away under my watch. All of the anger and rage that I was directing at John was simply a bait and switch. If I was able to focus on him, I didn’t have to realize how much of the blame I shouldered for his deficiencies.
Logically, I fully understood all of that. Emotionally, however, I didn’t give a hoot. I wanted to call him and tell him that if he was home, he should leave. Maybe find a friend to spend the night with ‘cause I didn’t want him home with me. I wanted so much to lash out in the most spiteful, angry way I could to make him feel just a fraction of the hurt I carried.
Thank God my logical side fought back, because my emotional side was gunning for separation. It really, truly was. That is not, however, the Christian way of handling problems, and I really have tried so hard to grow myself into a better example of what it means to be truly loving in my actions, especially with John.
Plus, in my heart, I know that’s not the answer. It’s not fair to John who is not entirely to blame. So I forced myself to calm down. I forced myself to refrain from spewing lava the moment he walked into the house.
However, he could quickly tell I was upset. I said we’d talk after Vincent went to bed, and he backed off. Somehow, by the grace of God, he actually backed off. Normally he will push until his curiosity is satiated, but in this instance, he did not. That gave me enough time to collect myself and slowly vent, alone, until I was ready to discuss things in a manner that was fair to both of us.
So after Vince went to bed, he asked. At first I didn’t know how to delve into it. I was really worried I wouldn’t be able to restrain my tongue. I wanted to be fair, but I was still emotionally raw. I have no doubt I didn’t handle myself perfectly, but I can say I made the right decision. I’m glad that I waited until Vince went to bed, and I’m glad that I resolved to talk things through with John rather than remain dedicated to heaping blame and anger on him without his knowledge.
I explained what the teacher said. I explained my experiences picking Vince up from daycare. I then explained that I truly believed Vince wouldn’t be as socially behind if he had a sibling. I felt guilty for not providing him one, and I was angry that John couldn’t see how damaging that was to him. I explained why I didn’t say anything earlier, and I also explained how incredibly angry I was on the way home. However, I also explained that I understood anger is my self-defense mechanism, so it’s the emotion that crops up most strongly when I feel sad or guilty.
In fact, it’s pretty safe to say that the angrier I am about a given situation, the more upset I am about it. Anger, to me, is a controlled force. I feel empowered and in-control when I am angry. I’m able to speak eloquently and my mind is razor sharp. However, the second I allow the sadness, guilt or despair creep in, my eloquence goes out the window, I feel as if I’ve lost control and I am left weak and vulnerable.
Doesn’t that seem strange? But it’s true. Angry Gina is like a brilliant lawyer poised to tear into a guilty convict. Upset Gina is the babbling convict who wants to cry in the corner. Very, very seldom does Upset Gina come out to play.
So through my conversation with John, I felt a tug of war going on between these two sides of myself. I knew that in order for John to understand that I didn’t hate him or fully blame him for everything, I had to be honest about my feelings of failure and guilt. However, in order to get my thoughts across in a clear manner, my words were edged with anger – not to reprimand John, but to help me keep my composure.
To my surprise, John did not defend himself or try to make me understand that my view of siblings was wrong. Instead, he apologized. He said that he understood I was in a terrible situation. He sympathized that I felt guilty for having failed Vincent in this manner. He did point out that there were other ways of giving Vincent the experience of other children his age, but he didn’t counter me when I said the experience of siblings is without equal.
He just apologized and said he wished he could change his mind on the matter. I waved him off, not because I didn’t appreciate it, but because I was still caught between Anger and Upset.
The upset side of me wanted to reassure him that I didn’t hate him for how he felt. That side of me fully understood where he was coming from and wanted to let him know that he didn’t need to “wish” he could change his mind.
The angry side of me realized it was about to lose its edge and decided bypassing that statement altogether would be a safer course of action than responding, because how can anger respond to love?
That is, after all, how John answered me. He listened to me, really heard me, tried to understand my point of view, and sympathized. He didn't agree, and he didn't have to. You don't have to agree with someone's perspective in order to sympathize. THAT is the response I've been waiting for.
I never wanted to force John to change his mind. I'd like him to, sure, but that was never the crux of my frustration. It was always his stubborn refusal to even give my point of view air time. I was wrong, and that was that. This is the very first time I felt as though he'd not only heard me out... he'd allowed himself to accept that my point of view wasn't entirely off-base. That doesn't mean he agrees with it, and that's okay. However, it does mean that I'm not the outright manipulator that I think he felt I was regarding children.
Thus, the conversation petered off. John apologizing for his part in my sadness, me accepting that I was stuck trying to figure out a way around this for myself and my family. As a mother, I have to figure out a way to help Vincent grow into a more socially adept little boy. I accept his current difficulties on account of his verbal / comprehension deficits, but I do not accept that these are permanent limitations. They are certainly not excuses for bad behavior.
So today I vowed to work with both the teacher and the principal on getting Vince better transitioned into his new environment. I’ve enlisted the help of his previous teachers, and I’ll be talking to my mom (a kindergarten teacher) later this afternoon. Obviously I also talked to John and we both agree that we’re giving this at least two weeks before throwing in the towel.
Maybe we find out that Vince really is just too young to begin. I, for one, will not make that decision without giving it a real try. Two days is not enough to judge a child’s ability to meet the expectations of an entirely new environment. The principal agreed with me, and we’re going to see what the next two weeks bring us.
Keep us in your prayers, folks. It’d be much appreciated. This entire experience has been so much more challenging than I’d ever imagined.
UPDATE: Since I was asked - Vincent was practically deaf for the first two years of his life. Given that therapy only got him so far, he's still behind his peers when it comes to communicating his fear or frustration. As a result, he relies on physical outbursts sometimes. Physical outbursts include swatting at others or stamping his feet. Both are negative behaviors that could potentially hurt someone, so they are serious. However, he's not maliciously threatening anyone and is reacting, in my mind, as a child of his cognative level would respond. Our job, as parents, is to teach him new coping skills and help him develop beyond physical response. We also need to work more on his willingness to share the attention of adults with other children (again, something a sibling would've helped with). He consistently demands the attention of the teacher, and if he doesn't get it, he simply shouts louder and louder until she's forced to give him attention (even though it's negative attention).
My background is education. I fully understand the dynamics of what is going on and why my son is acting out in the manner in which he's acting out. It makes sense, but my difficulty is how I can help re-teach him better behavior.
Anyone have any tricks or tips?
I'm back, and there's a lot to catch up on!!! Prepare to be inundated with entries over the next few days.
First up, parenting anxiety. I believe my friend, Nicole, coined something along the lines of "First-time Parenting Syndrome" in which us new parents freak out over every little thing we may have done (or not done) to somehow screw our kids up forever.
I had one of those moments the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
His class was doing a special show for the parents to showcase their songs and crafts as a fun send-off for the holiday weekend. I showed up with the throng of other parents only to feel slightly panicked that my son was not among his classmates. His teacher caught me trying to find him and motioned to the empty corner of the room - far away from the rest of the students who were happily singing and dancing in synch.
I didn't see him at first. I didn't see anyone at first, actually. As I slid past parents holding cameras and videotapes, I noticed an aide's head peeking over a bookshelf. Behind the bookshelf she was sitting with my son on her lap. They were reading a book together.
I was confused. Why wasn't he with the class? Did he do something wrong?
The aide explained that he refused to participate in the sing-along. They had tried everything to get him to participate, but he would have none of it. So instead of singing with the class, he sat off in the corner, physically separated from his peers, and looked at books.
Immediately, a thousand thoughts raced through my mind.
Did he suddenly get stage-fright? No. This ham of a kid is willing to dance and sing for complete strangers. Shy will never be a word used to describe him.
Maybe he wasn't feeling well? No. He was happily reading his book and looked perfectly fine.
Was he being disobedient? Yes, but he's not typically the rebel and was very likely skirting the show for a reason... so why?
And then that terrible feeling set in... the parental anxiety I spoke about above... the one in which you can't help but feel ultimately responsible for everything.
I remembered several instances of Vincent being corrected - by his classmates - for his speech impediments. As many of you know, Vince was practically deaf for two years of his life. He finally got his hearing corrected two days after his 2nd birthday. I spent countless hours and likely thousands of dollars getting him treatment and professional help to work on the skills he never developed due to his hearing issues.
So even though he's made incredible progress in the last year, he's still not caught up with his peers - at least verbally. Everything else he's either on par or excelling with. Speech and comprehension, though... he's behind. Making progress, but definitely behind.
I cringed at the thought that Vince might finally be understanding his impediments. I don't think he really understood that he was behind his classmates with speech. He just babbled happily at everyone and typically got his point across because his basic communication was passable; however, now that his peers are speaking in complete sentences and articulating clearly...
You see where I'm going with this?
They're picking up on Vince's weakness. I don't think anyone's been outright mean to him, but kids are kids. They don't realize how mean they sound as they say things like "Vincent sounds funny" or "Why do you talk like a baby?"
I can't help but wonder if Vincent wouldn't sing with the class because he felt self-conscious about his own ability to articulate the words as well as the other kids. He can't really sing along to very many songs because he just can't articulate the words fast enough. He's great with beats and can "babble" in time with the music, occasionally getting out a clear word or two where they're meant to go. By and large, however, he babbles along and I've heard kids call him out on it. I've seen Vince look at them cock-eyed and keep on going, oblivious to what they meant by correcting him... but what if it's finally dawning on him that he's not "on level" with the other kids? What if he's starting to feel bad or not smart because he can't communicate as well as the others?
I had to choke back tears as I took him from the classroom. Again, all those thoughts of inadequacy came flooding in.
I should've gotten him more help. I should've found more doctors to side with me on surgery before he was two. I should work harder with him at home on his communication skills. I need to hire a new speech therapist to coach him one-on-one!
Mostly I just kicked myself on the way home, angry for having put him in a position where he could possibly feel stupid or shut-out from the rest of the group. God forbid he was embarrassed or something. Even now just thinking about it... I'm upset.
Rationally I know this isn't really my fault. As a parent, you can't help but feel responsible, though. There are just days that you are overcome with fear of being the source of your child's pain. The fear that you did something that could possibly harm the most precious little heart you know... it's enough to make your heart bleed. And that was how I felt the entire night.
I talked to John about it, crying the whole time. I couldn't help myself. I felt like such a failure - even though I knew full well I'd done everything in my power to salvage his hearing from when he was nine months old. John patted my hand and told me what an amazing mom I was and that I might've just caught him on a terrible day. Maybe he just didn't feel like singing that day and wanted to read a book instead. Who knows? He didn't seem upset or sad when I picked him up, so maybe John was right... maybe it was some freak incident and I got myself riled for no good reason.
This is just the end result of having children, though. Constantly worrying that their issues are somehow caused by your inadequacy as a parent. *Shakes head* Goodness. It's a good thing I trust God to make up for all the things I'm lacking. I'm not a perfect parent. Far from it. But I do love my son, and I trust that even though I will do a litany of things that will cause my little munch issues, God will be there to set him straight again... to somehow take my broken-ness and fix it up enough so that it IS enough. At the end of the day, that's all I can hope for, huh?
I've been blessed with several artistically inclined friends. Being someone who can't draw a straight line with a ruler, having these artistic friends has always given me a bit of a boost. I can live vicariously through their skill set. Ha!
Long-time readers of this blog know that I absolutely adore paintings. I'll try to sneak them into most entries and sometimes I'll even go on wild tangents trying to figure out their layered symbolism. I just really, really enjoy that sorta stuff!
Anyway, an old friend of mine dropped me a line this weekend. (I've already had this discussion with her, so no worries about wading into a public battle of wits. We've reached an understanding and she gave me permission to post this.) This friend, "Lilly," is a pretty incredible painter. I've linked to her material on my page in the past, and I've attended two of her shows in the last year. We don't really talk much, but I tend to comment on her albums as she posts new work. Every now and again she'll comment on a pic or two of Vince, but that's about the extent of our communication.
I was thus happy (and surprised) to hear from her this weekend when she called. She said that she'd been reading this blog for about a month and has been debating asking for my help with selling her paintings. She said that in exchange for selling her artwork on my page, she'd share my blog with her friends.
Now at first glance, that's not a ridiculous offer. However, I admit that I took offense to it simply based on a conversation I'd recently had with John.
Let me explain:
I've been posting to Facebook about my husband's upcoming movie release. Many of my readers already know that he sold his first movie to Lionsgate and the release is this week. In my attempts to support him in his dream to make and sell movies, I not only agreed to be in the movie (with Vincent), but I helped make the food, solicited help from my best friend, Mary, and have been plugging the movie left and right for it's various screenings, releases, and news-bytes.
Now, what most of you don't know is the name of my husband's movie. The reason for this is that the content in the movie. It's rated R, but it should really be closer to NC-17. It's very "The Hang Over" in content. Thus, I've never promoted it on my page, even after John's begged me to write up a horrible review and rile all of you fine readers up into a tizzy so you'll buy it and yell about it, too.
*Shakes head* My husband - "No publicity is bad publicity." Ha ha!
Anyway, I've made the conscious choice NOT to promote his movie on this page based on principle. He was feeling slightly unsupported because I didn't want to use this medium to promote what I was already promoting through Facebook, Twitter, etc.
As I pointed out, however, I was supporting him in every other way known to man. I was telling folks about his project, I was linking to the various news articles about it, I cooked for the cast / crew, and I agreed - against better judgement - to take part in it. That's about as supportive as it gets, right?
Then, on top of that, I pointed out that for all the unsolicited support he got from me - publicly - he had yet to link to my jewelry page. So I really shouldn't hear word one about being unsupportive.
(Mind you, pointing this out promptly solicited a "Check out my wife's page" post to his feed; I was quite appreciative).
I go out of my way to support the various projects he or our mutual friends get involved with. I'll re-post teasers, I'll comment on promotions, I'll share tasting / jewelry events. Why? Because that's what friends do, right? Even with stuff I'm not entirely excited about because it's not about my excitement regarding a project - it's my level of excitement regarding the success of a friend.
So I re-post - ad nauseum, I'm sure.
Yet I have not received similar treatment and the answer is always the same. "I'd totally repost your stuff if it weren't so religious."
Now this is not an entry whining about how little my friends repost my store. I'm honestly not looking for that. You fine readers have done a wonderful job of spreading the word, and for that, you have my prayers and appreciation. However, I take offense to the fact that there are those among my group who have the audacity to claim I'm unsupportive or unwilling to help because I'm embarrassed by X, Y or Z when they refuse to help me out because they're embarrassed by God, or who would have no problem reposting my jewelry so long as they're getting something out of it. As Lilly pointed out, she'd "make the sacrifice" of posting about God in order to access my "audience."
Something just doesn't really sit too well with me when you put it like that.
I don't mind coupling up with others who want to reach a broader audience. I've had similar discussions with Dom, a wonderful artist, and even my friend, Mary. I don't mind sharing wonderful items that I think my readers would be interested in.
What I DO mind, however, is being used and then allowing my readership to be used. Looking to ride the coat-tails of the year and a half I've spent churning out entries, battling against mean-spirited trolls, and pouring out my personal life for what I hope will be the benefit of others... it amounts to being used.
Telling me that you'll "make the sacrifice" of sharing my hard work so you're able to make good off the readership I love, appreciate and respect? I'm sorry, but that just seems downright arrogant.
And I explained it in those terms. If my page isn't good enough for you to "like" or share on its own - or even just because you would like to help me find success - your artwork isn't going to make it any better. Your artwork isn't going to somehow change or overshadow the fact that this blog is Catholic, and everything about me and what I do is firmly rooted in that Catholicism.
So again - this isn't a pity party asking folks to share my page. I don't want it shared by those who simply feel guilted or shamed into sharing. I want it shared by those who either enjoy my work (both written and crafted), or who believe others will find value in this calling.
I apologize for the long vent. It's just that I've been approached by so many folks over the last week or so who were interested in utilizing this page either for ad-space, sales or information (and no, I never have and never will allow 3rd parties to take your information).
It just really drove me up a wall and I ended up feeling very frustrated. Since speaking with Lilly, she agreed that she hasn't exactly been the most stellar at recognizing that my work was just as valid and time-consuming as hers. And maybe that's what folks who don't blog / craft tend to forget.
So Delaware just passed a law which effectively outlaw corporal punishment on the basis that child abusers exist.
My question is this: Should we outlaw sex because rapists exist?
I mean, in both instances, we have laws in place that specifically punish folks guilty of child abuse / rape. We are we looking to abolish corporal punishment altogether? Exactly when did the state gain the authority to tell me how to properly discipline my child??
Pardon me, Delaware, but methinks you've just spoiled an entire generation of children. Why? Because most kids are smart enough to realize that with a simple false report to the police, Mommy or Daddy will be at their mercy and can thus get away with being terrible, terrible people.
"You think you can ground me for failing three semesters of math? Yeah right. I can easily call the cops and tell them you've been hitting me behind closed doors and you won't be around to enforce that, will you?"
This is a TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE idea. Our government's been remarkably good at making those recently.
But yes... should we now outlaw sex on the same grounds?
1 day old - still in the hospital!
Three years ago today I got to meet the blessing I'd been waiting for my entire life.
My little smiling bubble of sunshine.
I still try to measure his growth against the memory of him nestled in my arms that first night in the hospital. His little ear tucked into my elbow... his little face smooshed against my breast... his "bundled" body hugging the length of my arm.
Oh and how he's grown!
Now his head rests on my shoulder and curls into my neck. His arms encircle me and those precious feet dangle well past my hips.
My baby is no longer a baby so much as a little boy, and I'm not entirely sure how that happened!
But I thank God for such a blessing. Each smile, each laugh, each gasp of awe... they're golden little treasures in my heart. Even his struggles, his frustration, and his cries... they're all little jewels that have endeared him to me and marked him as mine.
Today we celebrated amongst ourselves. John and I took him out for a fun dinner and ice cream because, although our family tends to want bigger, more extravagant celebrations, we appreciate our tradition of togetherness. John and I created our little family unit, and we like first dibbs on celebrating the moment we finally became a real family. It's ours - he is ours. And while we love to share him with our families, we do tend to get selfish of him in moments like this.
No worries, however. We'll have the cake and the presents and the family together in a couple days. We don't deprive him of such joy. We do, however, push it off in favor of our unique family-time. John and I both hope it instills in him how much we love and appreciate him. Cake and presents are great, but bonding with the people who love you most in the world...
That's a true celebration. :)
Happy birthday, baby. Mommy loves you more than you know. I thank God for you every day - you are a kiss from God, Himself. Bless you always...
This weekend was INSANE! I mean that in a really good way, but boy am I tired!!! On Friday night, I crammed about four days of cleaning into a few hours.
You see, with my new job starting on Tuesday, and all the plans I had for the weekend, I really wanted to have the house cleaned and all the laundry completed. Unfortunately, all those wonderful plans fell through when I found out that I'd lost my sitter for Saturday. Now that I would have Vincent, I couldn't do about ten of my "To-Do's" which meant we threw everything out the window and spent the entire weekend having fun.
Good thing I crammed my productivity into Friday night, huh?
Anyway, on Saturday I took Vincent to the farm. He went apple picking for the very first time, and while we were at it, we picked some corn, too! You only live once, kid, and you haven't truly lived until you get lost in row upon row of corn. :) I think he enjoyed the hay ride that ferried us between the various fields. He and another little boy kept grabbing fistfuls of hay to "rain down" onto the floor boards.
After we picked the apples and corn, we found our way back to the market where we picked up peaches. These peaches were HUGE! They were the size of John's fists, and John's got some pretty huge hands. Vincent really enjoyed eating those. At first he refused because I was calling them "peaches," but as soon as I represented them as "apples" he went to town. He's definitely at that stage where trying new things is suspect. *Shakes head* Ah well. Now he eats them just fine... even if I call them by their proper name.
Super late Saturday night I drove down to meet up with my in-laws in Ocean City. Being the last weekend of the summer, I wanted to make sure Vince got at least one more "beach day" before we packed it in.
It was great because friends of the family were also down, and the kids in this family adore Vince. Vince adores them, too, so it worked out really well. They practically took over parenting duties for me the whole of Sunday. He absolutely gloried in their attention! It was so adorable to see them vying for his attention... it really was. :)
Finally, Monday rolled around and it was a little bit of a bust. The weather was dreary, so we weren't able to do much outside. However, I wanted to take Vince up to get photos like we do every Labor Day weekend. John was away for a bachelor party he hosted, so he wasn't able to come with, but I wanted to keep the tradition going and surprise him with photos when we saw him that night.
At first, Vincent was in rare form and didn't want to take them. So I walked all the way home with him and put him down for a nap. After the nap, I decided to try again in the hopes that he was in a more willing mood. I was not disappointed, and we ended up with quite the happy result!
Yes, I realize I allowed my son to get photographed holding a gun. When he was younger, I allowed him to be photographed with an empty bottle of Jack. Please save any and all comments of irritation or snark. My husband likes these photos, and I find them to be a fun compromise considering I refuse to allow guns into the house (whether they be toy or otherwise - no matter how much the husband begs, barters or pleads).
Anyway, it was a fun weekend, but I'm beat! Oh, and we also got Vince a haircut. It was his first time in the chair all by himself. I'm so happy he sat still!!!
So yes... even though I was unable to do the litany of things I wanted to check off my To-Do List before my 1st Day, I think I still did pretty well. Being able to spend time with Vincent doing fun and goofy things beats laundry, floor scrubbing and errand-running any day of the week. :)
As you can probably tell from the photo, I was a little overzealous in purchasing the potty for Vince at Christmas when he was only 15 months old.
Now that he's almost three, I'm glad I didn't wait. He got to mess with his potty for almost two whole years before I began to potty train him. He spent those two years getting to know his potty... playing with his potty... and using his potty as a ramp, step-stool and yes, even a seat.
Once I started to coax him into using it for its actual purpose, he wasn't really scared of it. From all the horror stories I've heard of parents trying to prove to their toddlers that monsters don't exist in their potties, or that the seat wouldn't swallow their bottoms, etc, I'm just really, really glad that Vince had a good, happy relationship with his special seat. No fear of the unknown for him, thank goodness!
However, trying to get him to figure out just what that "Uh oh, I gotta go!" sensation actually meant was an entirely different ballgame. As some of you may recall from my 1st foray into Potty Training, I was less than successful. In fact, I was pretty miserable and felt like an all-star failure.
I'd even accepted failure. Almost.
Instead, I didn't give up. John and I just altered our approach. Sure, Vince still had a few accidents over the last two weeks, but ya know what? He's only had a handful! That first weekend of hell really made him incredibly self-aware. Sure it took several hours of me scrubbing my carpets and floors. Sure it took several extra loads of laundry and a couple extra trips to shower, but in the end, I can see what it was all for.
I haven't bought any diapers this month!
Vincent requests to go to the potty now - frequently.
He's in big-boy underwear all day. He hasn't had an accident in three days. THREE DAYS!
And last night? Last night he woke up from his sleep just so he could ask to use the potty.
I think I've died and gone to Heaven.
My little boy... I'm so proud of him.
Several of my friends asked if we did a reward system to see results so fast. We haven't. We've just been very diligent about asking him - over and over again - if he needs to use the potty. Every time he does use the potty, we praise him like you wouldn't believe. In fact, I think we over-praise him.
Twice Vincent stopped playing while we were in Chick-Fil-A's playroom on Wednesday so he could run to the potty. He only went once, but he expected a huge round of applause both times.
Ah well - I'm just so proud of the progress he's making. So moral of the story - Don'T Give Up!
No child goes to high school in diapers. :)
So I made the decision to attempt potty training Vince this weekend. Up until this point, John and I haven't been very consistent with it. If we remembered to try him on the potty after his bath - woo hoo. If not, c'est la vie.
However, my laissez faire approach quickly choked on its bon-bon lovin' neglect after I read a note from his teachers reminding us that Vincent was developmentally ready for preschool. The only thing standing between Vincent and a more structured, educational setting was his diaper.
I immediately felt panicked, proud and frantic reading that letter. I'm so proud that my baby boy is ready for preschool. At the same time, I'm panicky over the fact that my baby boy isn't so much baby as boy now and is thus ready for the next stage of his educational development. That brings tears to my eyes for more than one reason.
Finally, I'm a little frantic because I realize I need to get on the ball with training him. He'll be 3 in September, and if he's to start preschool Sept. 1st, I've got my work cut out for me.
So instead of going down the shore this weekend (as was originally the plan), I spent the entire weekend home with him in anticipation of the many accidents that were waiting to happen.
Ugh - I wasn't disappointed!!!
I can't even tell you how many times this poor kid used my floors as a potty. Le sigh. On the plus side, leaving him run around naked (or in his big boy underwear) certainly made him a lot more aware of the "I gotta go!" sensation that precedes using the bathroom. He even surprised me by using the potty three times - once going number two! I really thought we were making headway.
Not so much.
And after a particularly messy melt-down (on the part of Mommy, not Vince), John calmly suggested that maybe I was trying to push Vince before he was ready. I knew he was right. It made logical sense to me. I think I knew even before I started that he wasn't ready. Trying to push it on him will only freak him out and make potty training that much more difficult.
So I deferred to Daddy on this one. Vince gets a potty training reprieve for now. We'll be more consistent with reminding Vince about the potty and asking him if he needs to go, but for now, we'll let him have his diapers... even if that means he waits a month or two to start preschool.
It takes a village.
Or in this man's case - a town.
We need more stories like this depicting the incredible beauty that humanity is capable of.
God bless the people of Bussey, Iowa.
Alrighty, I've caved. I registered MyBrokenFiat with Twitter. All the cool kids were doing it.
Help me out by getting my following started! I intend to amass an army that will take over the world.
I mean, I intend to amass a following of like-minded, respectable folks who enjoy sharing tips and anecdotes on religion, raising a family, and other relevant morsels.
Follow, share and tweet. Thanks, all! :)
Also be sure to let me know what your Twitter handle is so I can follow you as well. I'm still not entirely sure how all this works, but eventually I'll figure it out, I promise!
Part 3 in the Accident Series
The pain actually worsened in the months after I delivered Vincent. My chiropractor explained that it was partially due to how I was breastfeeding (I cradled Vince, so my shoulders naturally slumped over and rounded my back) and partially due to my ligaments falling back into place.
Also, I may not have been carrying Vince around inside me anymore, but I was carrying him around in a carseat while lugging around a diaper bag. So maybe my extra body weight was gone, but I'd replaced it with an equal or greater amount of luggage that threw my body off-balance.
Bathing Vincent was (and is) one of the most torturous activities for my back. It's SO incredibly painful to bend down to properly clean him. Hoisting him in and out of high chairs, shopping carts, and swings at the park all hurt. And it's not just a quick sharp jab to the spine, either. It's a lasting grinding that leaves me achy for hours (if not days) afterwards.
Then there's cleaning around the house. I'm typically a clean freak. I vacuumed at least three - four times a week (both floors) and scoured the bathrooms on my hands and knees. I'd run up and down three flights of stairs without issue carrying laundry and do grocery shopping without complaint. Now? All of that is painful to me. The twisting motion of the vacuum makes my back revolt, carrying anything for any distance (especially on stairs) is just asking for punishment, and scrubbing tubs and floors really does put me out of commission for at least a day.
I remember a few times when Vince was a baby that I had to have John take over bathing because my back gave out. The first two times it happened, I crawled into bed and just cried because I felt like a failure as a mother.
Then there were days in which I simply couldn't take him to the park like I'd wanted to because I had spent the day before cleaning.
I realized that my life had turned into a perpetual game of Tetris. I was constantly juggling tasks that needed to be done with my ability to actually do them.
Seriously - these are the types of thoughts that STILL go on in my head on a daily basis. It's a CONSTANT give and take that makes me feel SO angry. I shouldn't have to constantly gamble my abilities for Vincent's everyday living. And yet I do. They may not be for the same things as when he was a baby, but they still exist.
For example, he loves to do pony-back rides now. I can maybe give him two or three before I'm out of commission. He'll cry because he wants a few more rounds, but I simply can't. And yes, I still hate myself for that sometimes.
Then there are the times my neice will see me "airplaning" Vince. She'll demand a turn (which I happily give), but I know the inevitable, "I'm sorry, guys, but I can't do it again" will come and make them feel gypped of fun.
I hate it. I hate everything about this. It makes me feel gypped as a mother / aunt because I SHOULD be able to do all these things without thought. It's not like I'm 60 years old. Argh.
What's worse is that I had to give up my chiropractor because I simply did not have the money to put towards him. Copays are $50 per visit, and at three visits per week, that adds up to how many diapers? How many clothes? How many trips to the zoo? It didn't seem fair that I was taking money away from Vincent to pay for something that the insurance company should have been paying for.
So I sued the guy's insurance for proper coverage - All State. It was like opening an entirely new hell for myself.
So remember that Perceived Parenting Fail entry I did not too long ago? God's got a great sense of humor. :)
Two women received heartbreaking news today regarding the miscarriage of their unborn children. Please keep them (and their husbands) in your prayers.
Even though their beautiful children did not make it past the bonds of the womb, they made these women mothers. Their tiny heartbeats - their tiny feet - their very souls manifested a significant and unalterable mark on the hearts of these women. They are forever changed because once you become a mother, you remain a mother. Once you open yourself up to accepting a life hand-crafted by the Father, you ever carry a piece of that life within yourself.
May these two mothers find comfort in the fact that their blessed little saints are now acting as their personal intercessors before the Throne of God. May they enjoy the Beatific Vision from the lap of Our Lady, and may their parents feel the comforting embrace of Christ.
Motherhood, as Dymphna put it, is forever. Special thanks to her for sharing this artwork.
Special thanks, too, go out to a woman named Dominique. She shared this reflection that I promptly fell in love with.
My Lord, the baby is dead!
Why, my Lord—dare I ask why? It will not hear the whisper of the wind or see the beauty of its parents’ face—it will not see the beauty of Your creation or the flame of a sunrise. Why, my Lord?
“Why, My child—do you ask ‘why’? Well, I will tell you why.
You see, the child lives. Instead of the wind he hears the sound of angels singing before My throne. Instead of the beauty that passes he sees everlasting Beauty—he sees My face. He was created and lived a short time so the image of his parents imprinted on his face may stand before Me as their personal intercessor. He knows secrets of heaven unknown to men on earth. He laughs with a special joy that only the innocent possess. My ways are not the ways of man. I create for My Kingdom and each creature fills a place in that Kingdom that could not be filled by another. He was created for My joy and his parents’ merits. He has never seen pain or sin. He has never felt hunger or pain. I breathed a soul into a seed, made it grow and called it forth.”
I am humbled before you, my Lord, for questioning Your wisdom, goodness, and love. I speak as a fool—forgive me. I acknowledge Your sovereign rights over life and death. I thank You for the life that began for so short a time to enjoy so long an Eternity. -- Mother Angelica
So some of you are aware that my son was basically half-deaf for the first two years of his life. Even though I spent a full year fighting with pediatricians to give him the necessary surgery, Vincent's hearing (and subsequently, his speech development) suffered terribly.
Ever since having his tubes placed in September, he's made tons of progress. He's been working regularly with a speech therapist, and has recently figured out how to lace a few words together for basic requests. He's still about eight months behind the rest of his peers, but he's making progress.
Sometimes, however, that progress seems painfully slow to me, and it makes me want to lash out at folks who simply don't know any better.
For example, when I take Vincent to the store, there will inevitably be some nice person who wants to ask Vincent for his name and age. They mean well, and they obviously have no way of knowing that he's delayed in speech (and thus, comprehension). However, when they press him repeatedly even after my quick "His name is Vincent and he's a big boy at two years old!" I get agitated FOR him. I want to protect him from the confused looks and the subsequent, "Doesn't he talk already?" questions. Again, keep in mind that (because of his sheer size) Vince looks a year older than he actually is (he's only 2.5)
Then I end up feeling like a horrible mother because, in all honesty, he SHOULD be talking by now (at least better than he is), and maybe if I'd've fought a little harder on the ear surgery, this wouldn't be a problem for him. Maybe all of this is the result of my laziness in regards to reading to him often enough, talking to him enough, or forcing him to use words to communicate with me.
I don't know.
Some days you just end up feeling like a parental failure, and for me, this is one of those days.
One of my friends posted a video of her son singing a song. It was adorable and I was so happy to see my friend and her son sharing such a sweet moment with us. However, something inside made me want to cry because Vincent is nowhere near this little one's capacity (and Vince is almost a full year older than him!). Immediately the doubt began to rush over me.
I must not be coaxing him to talk enough.
Maybe I'm not spending enough time verbalizing with him.
I should read to him more often.
I should SING to him more often.
Maybe we should up the speech therapist to three times a week.
I can't wait until his hearing appointment, because God forbid the tubes fell out and he's already blocked again.
Should I try to bump the appointment? Maybe they can see us today.
It's enough to make a mother go insane.
I have to keep taking deep breaths and realize that Vince IS making progress. No, he's not spouting off his name and age and silly songs perfectly, but at least he's making headway. He can sing a good portion of Team Umizoomi's theme, and the lyrics for Fresh Beat songs? Pfft... Even if he can't get 'em out, he definitely knows them.
There's nothing inherently WRONG with Vincent. He's developmentally ahead of his peers in every single area except verbal / comprehension. I realize this has everything to do with the fact that he couldn't hear for the first two years of his life. I realize that catching up will take time. I realize that he's already made so much progress. I realize all of this. Even so, sometimes you just feel like you're not doing enough and because of your parenting failures, your child suffers.
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