Noah's occupational therapy has been...not going well. To put it mildly. We've made so little progress -- OT arrives at door, Noah bolts, spends entire session wailing from under the dining room table because he. Does. NOT. Want. To. Ride. On. A. Towel. Christ. Almighty. -- so his therapist suggested moving his sessions to the EI center and enrolling him in a couple structured class-type things.
Today was the first of those structured class-type things. The Lunch Bunch, they call it. For kids with oral motor problems and sensory food issues. On paper, it sounds lovely -- a little circle time, feeding plastic food to a puppet, then setting the table and eating some lunch, cleaning up and a story. Every other week the kids make the lunch; other weeks you bring it from home. One food they like and another they don't, which they will then be encouraged to lick or kiss or even just to TOUCH it while putting it in the clean-up bucket.
So it's a lot of kids who eat crackers and shriek at the sight of lunch meat, basically. Our kind of people.
But...oh God. I don't even know where to begin. There are no words for how badly this class went.
Noah screamed. And screamed. And. Screamed. He screamed when asked to sit on a little chair. He screamed when people sang. He screamed at the puppet and he screamed at the plastic fruit and he screamed at the sink and the plastic plates and his apple slices.
He wept and clung to me and then smashed his head into my face. The little girl next to us was obligingly kissing her ham and the little boy next to her was using a spoon to eat some yogurt and before I could help it, I was sobbing too. Big fat tears that I couldn't stop or hide because hello! I am the biggest failure in this room and I don't know how to make him stop screaming and sit in the chair and my face hurts now and while I am really, really heartbroken over how hard this is for him, JESUS CHRIST, it's a fucking CHAIR that you SIT ON, WHAT THE FUCK.
I wanted to bundle him up and go back to the car, to hug him and tell him he never has to go back.
I also wanted to leave him there and go back to the car and drive far, far away from him and stay there for days.
Instead, we stayed. I pulled myself together and wiped up my mascara smudges while everybody kindly looked the other way. Noah threw himself down on a mat and screamed some more. We managed to get him to toss his uneaten apple slices in the clean-up bucket, even though the reward for cleaning up (you get to go read a book! and sit on more chairs!) resulted in more screaming.
45 minutes and several burst eardrums later, it was over. Noah was red, sweaty and tear-stained and I was filling out a form that asked me to comment on the day's activities, which ended up being a lot of Not Applicables and HA HA HA HAAAAAAAAAAAAs.
We had a one-on-one OT session right after, during which Noah was an angel. Of course. He jumped on a trampoline and rode on a little car and rolled around in a pile of pillows. I sat there and couldn't stop the awkward, shaken crying as I struggled to tell his therapist that really, I swear to God, I'm a good mother. I discipline, he listens to me, we get compliments on his behavior from strangers, he's loved and happy, we just don't have a lot of structure to our days and I've been feeling kind of blue lately and my best mom friend is moving to California in two months and I just found out yesterday and I think I should go back to work but we want another baby but I can't get pregnant but God, I have no business having another baby, 20 minutes ago I was ready to slap the shit out of the one I already have.
(OK, I don't think I quite said all of that out loud. At least I hope I didn't.)
She told me it will get easier. That some kids are just like this, that we'll figure it out and get him used to structure and stimuli and other children breathing his air and daring to sing in his presence. That yes, clearly his sensory problems are affecting his ability to deal with life and chairs, but everyone here understands. They know he's struggling because their kids struggle too. They've all been that mother -- the one with the out-of-control wigged-out Jekyll-and-Hyde child, terrified that everyone is judging you and your bratty kid and why doesn't she DO something to MAKE him stop crying -- and anyway, her point was that it will get easier. Some day, at some point.
But probably not before next Wednesday at 11:30 am in room C7. See you there. Bring earplugs.