Better Parenting Through Abandonment
Bait, Switch

Jedi Master

First, though: You know you're in for an interesting conversation with your child's speech pathologist when she starts out by saying, "Yeah. So this might sound weird, but the other day I was at Babble.com and..."

Yesterday was a mini-parental-update day at Noah's private school. I don't know what else to call it. I stick around for an extra half hour after school and meet with all of the various teachers and therapists (last count we were up to a baker's goddamn dozen, I think) and discuss Noah's progress at school and at home. But we don't sit down for it. And no one takes notes. So it doesn't feel like a real thing. I completely forgot about yesterday's and didn't even take my coat off until the third therapist came over to talk, which is when it finally dawned on me that oh! Right! That's today. The mini-thing. Okay. 

Noah's progress is, in a word, spectacular.  A little over three months into the program (it's the DIR/Floortime model, for the special ed geeks out there) and they're all thrilled at the improvements they've already seen. They want to throw everything they've got at him -- listening therapy, music therapy, more speech -- because he responds so well, because he's *right there* and *so close* and it's *allsogreat.* This time last year we were still reeling in the wake of his teacher's not-very-veiled threats of expulsion. This year, everyone loves him. He's a sponge, a positive spirit. He is loving, he is kind, he is so very bright.

I've been carefully and cautiously celebrating the little things: fingerpainting, riding a bike, Halloween costumes, the loop, the very first time he ever looked at me and asked "why?" (last week. LAST WEEK.), the very first time he zipped up his winter coat all by himself (today. TODAY.).  And yet I still feel like I missed something, particularly in this past month. I can count on one hand the number of real, honest-to-God kill-me level of fits...yet can't put a finger on exactly when the good days started to outnumber the bad, and at such an uneven ratio.

He digs around in his backpack after school, eager to show off his latest project: N O A H spells Noah, Mommy.

He brings me elaborate Lego creations that no longer resemble the ones he once saw on the box: Look what I made, Mommy.

He plays more like a kid than a ruthless engineer, the last stand between order and chaos in case someone puts a blue block next to a yellow block instead of the RED BLOCK RED BLOCK. There is imagination, purpose, even the occasional good guy and bad guy. I am the Mommy Airplane with a broken wing, he is the Baby Airplane who calls the Compliceman to come and bring me a Band-Aid. A weirdly-shaped office building with an ugly radio antenna on the roof becomes mysterious and magical: Look at that pyramid, Mommy! There are mummies inside that pyramid, Mommy.

He tells me about his friends, his teachers, what he did that day. What they had for snack and who got in trouble on the bus. He tells me about the blue songs and the red songs and how the Christmas tree is "spicy" and that he can't eat a certain food because it's too much like "the ocean" and that shade of orange is too "rough" and every day we get a clearer picture of the nonstop sensory assault he faces and what the world looks and sounds and tastes and feels like for him: This song is yellow, but also kind of green, Mommy.

When he gets overwhelmed and overstimulated, he no longer screams or lashes out or kicks. He gives his body a good head-to-toe wiggle instead and starts everything over. Sure, it looks a little strange, but four-year-olds are a little strange, and it's a pretty effective reset button -- and one that he seemingly came up with on his own, his very first self-discovered coping mechanism: I shaking the itch out, Mommy.  

Everyday he is more "in" than "out," his teachers say. Everyday the other children in the class appear more foreign to me, more difficult than my own, and I am acutely aware that of all of them, Noah's chances for mainstreaming are much, much higher than theirs. 

He is still delayed, of course. Just because he finally asks "why" questions now doesn't mean we're allowed to ignore how long it took him to get to that point. When you teeter on the barest edge of "pervasive" there is always something else to worry about. He still has a very hard time interacting with children, with dealing with the inevitable, unpredictable aspects of daily life. He cannot use a spoon or a fork, or unbutton his shirt, or hold a crayon correctly, or...or...

He throws his arms around me a hundred times a day: I love you, Mommy.

Noah1-11-10

Comments

Katherine from Postpartum Progress

Having already way too much stuff to read, and focusing most of my internet attention on postpartum depression, I had absolutely NO idea your child had SPD. I had NO idea Jaelithe's child has SPD. I just found out today, by accident, thanks to Mom-101's list of 50 mommybloggers. I'm so pleased to know there are amazing women I can now follow so that I can help my daughter, who turns 4 in March, and has SPD. OMG. OMG. OMG. So relieved you have no idea. I love that girl so much I may need to go puke before I can finish this comment. I want to know the best ways to help her. This is all still so new to me. Thank you for being a guiding star.

Emily

I don't have children, so I can't even begin to imagine what these little victories feel like for a parent, but just reading this made me so excited for you! Way to go Noah!

Jane

You had me at N O A H spells Noah, Mommy. I'm crying with happiness for you. I hate the feeling of limbo, of wondering what to do or if there IS anything you can do, to feeling like you are headed in the right direction. I'm so happy for your family.

A

He's so lucky to have you and Jason in his corner (Ez too!)... Congrats to everyone.

sue

Rock on Noah...

nn

A not quite mainstream kid usually makes for an adult that rocks! I'm sure his future is bright :)

Brandi

So happy to hear Noah is doing well at his school! Keep on keeping on Amy! Great things are in his future!

Springsteen fan

Wow, Amy, rockin' post. [she typed thru welled-up eyes!!!]

Dawn

Yay for Noah! I'm so happy for you guys! I can't imagine what its been like for you to get to this point but wow, as a team you are totally doing it. Now go celebrate with lots of hugs and cuddles and big glasses of wine. For you.

adhocmom

Way to kick some ass kid.
x,
Paula
www.adhocmom.com

Amy

There has to be an award for "Blog that make me cry the most" - hands down yours! But so happy today - HUGE accomplishments for such a little person. I love that he is able to describe the world as he sees it. Now we can see just how different it is for him, poor soul, and as if being 4 weren't enough to navigate, try doing it when the world feels like it's trying to make you crazy. He's a wonder and you and your family can take much credit for that. And he's just a plain old kick-a** great kid too.

Kyla

That is so great, Amy.

We've experienced much of the same with KayTar and are looking at mainstream Kinder next year!

Lauren

Okay, so let me start by saying that I have read you for YEARS, ever since I found you via Chez Miscarriage. I am so thrilled that Noah is doing so well, you and Jason have been wonderful advocates. It's wonderful that you have found such a great place that is having such a positive impact.
But. Your comment about his classmates' behavior and their chances for "mainstreaming," well, just isn't very nice. You've said that one of his teachers has already found your blog, isn't it a safe bet that maybe some of his classmates' parents have too? How would that paragraph make them feel?
I don't mean this to sound harsh, and I'm sorry to put a downer note on such a fantastic progress report, but that paragraph just didn't sit well with me. Maybe consider this a well-intentioned reminder that your audience is wider than you might think. Or that what you meant to be a personal assessment of Noah's stellar progress might come off to a parent as something else entirely.
Anyhoo, I am so glad that you are sharing this journey, and hope that you continue to do so.

Marianne

HECKS YEAH! Awesome.

Erin

yeah, i agree w/the reader who asked for "cry warnings"...a huge weepy, "YES!" for you and for your beautiful noah from someone who reads often but seldom comments. just had to celebrate w/you on this one right out loud! yay. a million yays!!

nonsoccermom

Noah rocks. I'm so happy for y'all.

Becca

Beautiful entry. Happy tears in my eyes for you and your oldest!!!

Keri

You do this to me every time! I just get used to your hilarious posts and then WHAM! you throw a tear-jerker out there! Love them all!

Leigh

I am so happy for you. ANd I totally agree with your last commenter who said that a one size fits all approach to learning just doesn't work for everyone. We are finding that out in high school with my son! Better late than never.

Marianne

... by the way, the babble.com rankings, you should totally be #1 in funniest. I constantly tell people you're the funniest person on the internet (you know, like my opinion matters one bit). My favorite thing is that you manage to be hilarious without being mean. I mean, even your "snarky" writing manages to not be mean. It's a gift, Amy!

Jaelithe

High freakin' five.

Wait until a year from now. A year from now will blow your mind with its awesomeosity.

Sweetney

Love that boy. And you. xo

Stacy

#4????? You are #1 to me. I was so upset yesterday when I received the new Parent's Magazine (I am a total nerd, looking forward to the new parent's mgazine all month) and it had big spread on mommy bloggers, and you were NOT one of them - they totally suck.

ladybughugs

That is such great news and I'm so happy for all of you! Thanks for the update.

mrsmouthy

For all its worth, Noah is also probably one of the most loved kids on the Internet.

JoLynn

Amazing. Truely amazing, Amy. I'm so happy he's getting the help he needs and is excelling. I cried a little reading that but also made me think about how your sharing your experiences probably gives hope to so many parents in similar situations. Big, hug, WIN.

Katie Kat

I think I fall in love with Noah a little more each day. Even though I don't know you guys, I feel like I "know" you! His way of looking at the world, while difficult now, will surely make him such an amazingly interesting person as he learns how to cope and adjust and be so gosh-darned unique! Love that!

Beats the hell outta all the boring "normal" people I know!

{{{{{HUGS}}}}}!

chiquita

Ahh, amalah! so sweet. It sounds like he's doing great.

Anna Marie

"I love you Mommy". And that is what counts. That is the only thing that counts.

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