Unexpecting the Expected
September 21, 2011
Confession time: I really let Ezra down this past week, during the beginning of school.
I mentioned already that sometimes I FORGET. I forget that for all of his highly-verbal-ness and typical-development-ness and bubbly cheerfulness, I can't go and turn on the auto-parent cruise control.
Too often, Ezra is The One I Don't Worry About.
I mean, not really. That sounds worse than what I'm really trying to say. It's just, as a younger sibling of a special-needs child, each new stage of Ezra's development was met with a big sigh of relief. He talks! He eats! He runs! He holds a crayon! He uses utensils! He thinks other kids are fun! He has a wild imagination and an even wilder appetite for full-tilt adventure and destruction!
At some point, I was just like: Okay. We're good. I can stop looking for things.
I have conversations with Ezra that you wouldn't even believe. I feel like I haven't even come close to capturing how amazing he is through my own words here. At not-even-three, he is better at expressing his emotions and telling you about his day than Noah is at almost-six. His occasional toddler stubbornness and temper outbursts are nothing compared to the fits Noah would throw, back in the day. HOOOOboyfuckballs, not even close.
Noah would get mad because a light bulb was flickering or a clothing tag was bothering him or he was convinced we were taking him someplace that might possibly maybe require him to sit in a chair. There was never a full-proof way to reach him during a tantrum, to calm him down, other than to completely remove him -- physically, kicking and screaming -- from the situation and wait for the adrenaline to even itself back out.
Ezra, on the other hand, gets mad when I tell him he can't have another cookie. He'll look me in the eyes and say "I'M MAD," and then maybe kick the side of the couch. "UH!" he'll add, for emphasis. I raise my eyebrow at him, like, is that all you got, dude? And then he silently goes and puts himself in time out.
Oh, this sounds so cold, like I don't take Ezra's moods or emotions seriously, because I do. I DO. I'm actually the world's BIGGEST SUCKER around that child, because when his sweet little face turns sad, I turn into mush.
Noah requires so much effort on my part to be perfectly consistent and even-tempered and patient and digging through my knowledge stores about sensory processing to come up with the appropriate, non-shit-losing reaction. Ezra gets the fun, impromptu Mommy who figures maybe it isn't the biggest fucking deal in the world to let him have another cookie, at least he's not screaming at me because our neighbors are playing the radio outside and it's completely unacceptable that I cannot make them turn it off.
This past week, though, Ezra also got the hurried, oblivious Mommy who was completely blindsided by a wicked case of separation anxiety.
After the first couple "introductory" days of school, Ezra was expected to separate from me outside of school, either at the front door or curbside. A teacher or aide escorts the kids the rest of the way.
Our first attempt at the new drop-off order resulted in him sobbing his face off and screaming my name and begging me to take him home.
BECAUSE IT HADN'T OCCURRED TO ME TO TELL HIM I'D BE DROPPING HIM OFF, THAT THINGS WOULD BE DIFFERENT THAT DAY.
Me! The queen of visual schedules and social stories! The one who hasn't driven ANYWHERE without briefing Noah on full detailed run-down of where we're going and what we'll be doing since oh, 2007? Who prepares for each and every little transition like some people prepare for hurricanes!
Nope. Sorry Zah, we'll just have a little conversation about cars and trees and then Imma gonna pull up to school and let a stranger reach in and carry you off. You're cool with that, right?
Yesterday was our first day with no crying at the drop off. Today was pretty good too. I can still sense his anxiety all morning about going to school, though. I can tell that he's worried someone is going to change all the rules on him again, like today's the day I'm going to launch him out of the car towards the school on a giant slingshot, Angry Birds style.
His teacher reports that he's completely fine once he gets to the classroom -- he's very into the shoe-changing ritual where he puts on his special "school shoes" -- and says that really, he's integrating into the Montessori way of doing things at exactly the usual pace, for a child his age. He's independent, yet eager to learn and happy to please. Stubborn, yet social and charming. Typical. Nothing out of the ordinary. As expected.
The school director (whom I think completely loves us and Ezra thanks to our South Park bonding moment. boo-yah), did tell me about one incident when she was leading the class: Ezra had a bit of a meltdown after snack because he wanted more snack and there was no more snack. Instead of putting himself in time out, though, he threw himself at her legs and asked to be picked up. She obliged and he snuffled on her shoulder for a minute, then announced that he was "all better" and ready to go to the playground.
"I FORGET," she said. "He's so highly verbal and everything that I forget that he's not even three years old yet. He seems so...beyond that, sometimes."
Yes. Exactly. Beyond. Just complicated, unique and amazing little Ezra, going beyond my wildest dreams and expectations.
As usual. Just like I always expected.