THINGS THAT ARE NOT CLOTH DIAPERS
CLEAN ALL THE THINGS

Unexpecting the Expected

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? 

*headdesk*

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.

Ezra-funnyface-1 Ezra-funnyface-3 

Ezra-funnyface-2 Ezra-funnyface-4

As usual. Just like I always expected. 

Comments

Erin

It might me the pregnancy hormones talking here, but my eyes are leaking a bit. Your boys are so great!

Dayna

He's SO CUTE.

Becky

I understand completely where you are coming from. My son is 2.5 and the size of a 4 year old. We carry on conversations and he even asks about my day. He checks in his dad and loves on his baby sister. He gets you thinking that he is so much older than he really is that when he has a tantrum or fight you on something we as parents have to stop and say wait he is only 2.5. This is what he is supposed to. I wish Ezra and my Julian could meet. I think they would be two peas in a pod.

Suzanne

OMG, I could have written this exact post many years ago. Za is everything Noah isn't, so sometimes it's easy to forget that he's not a little adult, but a little boy.

Our wake up to that was last year, when my younger son started middle school. The child with the wild imagination and zest for new things just was not happy with all the changes.

You'll get there, all of you. Know this: for all that you do to prepare Noah for the day's journey, it really prepares Ezra, too-to be an especially empathetic person. It's a quality that my guy has that I adore and we can say it's big brother's gift to him. :)

sheila

I love that boy...and I don't even "know" him.

PinkieBling

Love him!!

PinkieBling

Love him!!

Erica

You make me want to run to my son's pre school and hug him a lot. They look eerily the same, and although I don't think William is quite as intense as you describe Ezra, I think they'd get along rather well. I really, really want to hug my boy right now. Sigh. Stupid work.

Erica

You make me want to run to my son's pre school and hug him a lot. They look eerily the same, and although I don't think William is quite as intense as you describe Ezra, I think they'd get along rather well. I really, really want to hug my boy right now. Sigh. Stupid work.

Erica

You make me want to run to my son's pre school and hug him a lot. They look eerily the same, and although I don't think William is quite as intense as you describe Ezra, I think they'd get along rather well. I really, really want to hug my boy right now. Sigh. Stupid work.

Tracy

On a mostly unrelated note, I saw Cheesy Poofs at Walmart today. That's right, I said Cheesy Poofs.

Annabel

Your love for your boys in this post was so palpable that it gave me that heavy behind the eyes teary feeling. In a good way! So good xx

Annabel

Your love for your boys in this post was so palpable that it gave me that heavy behind the eyes teary feeling. In a good way! So good xx

Annabel

Your love for your boys in this post was so palpable that it gave me that heavy behind the eyes teary feeling. In a good way! So good xx

Lorrian

Love!

xoxoxoxoxo

chris

All the hugs the Internet can't give Noah, we want to give double to Zah.

Jamie

I just have to say that Ezra is my favorite child! I mean my favorite child of YOURS...or something.

Cara

Oh, Ez, you are so awesome. And, Amy, any one of us could totally do that. My girl tends to be precocious and delightfully even-tempered. There are days I actually say out loud "What is WRONG with you? Oh, yeah, you're 14 months." She makes basic parenting strategies look so easy most of the time that I just forget she's a baby, and she can change that up on me at any moment. And that's NORMAL.

Megan

You didn't let him down. You gave him the chance to flex his little independent muscles. Every now and then something comes along that is harder for these brilliant little guys than we expect, but he definitely knows that he has a mommy who believes in him.

TwoBusy

I sooooooooooo get this. And have been similarly screwed by my autopilot tendencies - in regards to our NT daughters - more times than I care to admit.

Tamara

Wonderfully written! (and it resonates exactly with me, we have almost the exact same situation, though my boys are couple years older than yours)

PopMommy Pam

Love this. Ezra is just like my second child. She's super social and comfortable with herself and so different from my anxiety ridden first, that I sometimes forget she NEEDS me too. It's easy to think they are always fine with everything, because, hey, they usually are. (PS : Love that first pose - ADORABLE.)

Soumya Gayatri

Love the last pic...!! Zah is sooo cute...

lonek8.

this happens with my oldest daughter. She spoke so early, and is so mature and smart (and TALL), and I had more babies so close in age to her, that she gets asked to grow up and act way more responsible than is fair. With two younger kids that demand more energy, I can get impatient if she is crying over something I think is stupid or bugging me for more attention - I forget she is only 5 years old and still just a little girl herself.

amymarie

I was just thinking about this today. I have the same age span, same special needs. With my K, I'm on the ball, all the time, always 10 steps ahead, because if you aren't death will come to the whole family. With my 3 year old, I literally kept forgetting things like his school bag, when he started preschool this year. I forgot meetings, I forgot things for show and tell. It's difficult to switch back and forth. The parenting needs are so wide and varied. It always blows the mind.

jen

I could sorta relate to this post, I was just talking with a friend about how one of my kids always gets the short end of the stick because he can be reasoned with and I find myself saying a lot of "just let him have it so no one has to listen to him and I'll buy you ice cream later." Then Later comes and the little one is rolling in the streets because he didn't get any. I'm pretty sure I'm doing this wrong.

ladykay

I'm not at all pregnant and my eyes are leaking more than a little and I am trying to stifle sobs. You can get me misty-eyed on any old occasion, but I am losing it over this one. Stop it; I have stuff to do.

Elizabeth_K

Ah, sweet baby (still!), sweet mama. forgive yourself, he forgives you. But it was such a sad story ... thanks for sharing the sad times as well as the awesome cloth diapering times ...

Amanda

Sometimes, I swear, we lead parallel lives. My oldest son went off to kindergarten this year, and my (barely) 3yo headed off to a Montessori. I didn't anticipate how hard the transition would be. He's just so laid back, and smart, and willing to jump right in and try anything. I was floored, and SO sad, when I found out he spent his second day there crying ALL DAY. And then it took two weeks before drop-offs didn't involve me walking away from my sobbing child. I feel like I failed in the "prepare your kid for school" department.

(Also, while I don't have a newborn, we did recently get a puppy...so, see? Totally parallel.)

Amanda

Sometimes, I swear, we lead parallel lives. My oldest son went off to kindergarten this year, and my (barely) 3yo headed off to a Montessori. I didn't anticipate how hard the transition would be. He's just so laid back, and smart, and willing to jump right in and try anything. I was floored, and SO sad, when I found out he spent his second day there crying ALL DAY. And then it took two weeks before drop-offs didn't involve me walking away from my sobbing child. I feel like I failed in the "prepare your kid for school" department.

(Also, while I don't have a newborn, we did recently get a puppy...so, see? Totally parallel.)

Felicity

That sort of "parental cruise control" happens even when your kids are both typically-developing because, the younger one is (usually) wiser, more verbal, and more advanced than the oldest was because they've had the benefit of an older sibling. I too often take my four year old's incredible maturity for granted . . . and then she has a total "four year old moment" and brings me back to reality!

Felicity

That sort of "parental cruise control" happens even when your kids are both typically-developing because, the younger one is (usually) wiser, more verbal, and more advanced than the oldest was because they've had the benefit of an older sibling. I too often take my four year old's incredible maturity for granted . . . and then she has a total "four year old moment" and brings me back to reality!

Karen

I already see myself doing this with the 6 month old. He is so calm and mellow...I sometimes take advantage while taking care of his 5 year old brother! I can easily see me forgetting the more basic needs because the complexity just wears me out.

Jessi

I just had this conversation about Maren. She is so verbal and so smart and so insightful (and oh my don't I sound like the typical parent who thinks their kid's snot is spun gold) that I sometimes forget that she's two and she just can't handle things like a six year old just because she has a six year old vocabulary. Also, holy run on sentence batman. Sorry.

The Slacker Mom

We fall into this routine with our youngest. He's barely 1 and we act like he's self-sufficient because his brothers (almost 3) have ASD and need constant tending to. We're trying to give him the extra attention he deserves, but man, it feels like failure.

Missy Carvin

I could have almost written this post. My Abby is an incredibly verbal, highly intelligent God-I-love-that-kid 4.5 year old who has ALWAYS seemed older than her age. And I forget. I forget that she's not even five. That she's entitled to moods and rages and moments of just needing Mommy or Daddy to snuggle on. Because she talks like a 7 year old and is taller than the kindergarteners and she's just... Abby.

And so I have decided, so long as Ezra doesn't mind an older woman, we should totally get them together for juice boxes. Oh, wait, I don't live near you. Bummer.

Kris

My Mason is your Noah, and I honestly don't know how you have anything left for The Mighty Ezra and Wee Little Ike. My nerves are raw & jangled from trying to anticipate Mason's next epic screaming fit, to the point that I'm so exhausted because I can never truly rest.

Much love to Za for being so easygoing 99% of the time. :)

Mouse

I worry about doing this with my 19-month-old. He's just so good at making his wants and needs known that I forget he's not even 2.

Asha Dornfest {Parent Hacks}

So understand what you're saying here. My daughter (the youngest of my two kids) is the sibling of a special-needs kid, and I often feel like I lean too hard on her patience and understanding. I try to make sure she feels "seen" and heard as much as I can. But sometimes I'm sure I overcompensate.

Asha Dornfest {Parent Hacks}

So understand what you're saying here. My daughter (the youngest of my two kids) is the sibling of a special-needs kid, and I often feel like I lean too hard on her patience and understanding. I try to make sure she feels "seen" and heard as much as I can. But sometimes I'm sure I overcompensate.

Issa

This is funny to me, since our boys are maybe a month apart in age. Basically? I could have written so much of the exact same thing.

At times I have to remind people that Harrison is not quite three. He acts so much older. Sometimes I have to remind myself too.

allison

honestly, amy, your blog is about a year ahead of my normal life. my 3 year old boy is 'special needs.' he's got executive planning issues, sensory integration issues, dyspraxia issues, speech delays and his therapists (all 4 of them) like to dance around "the spectrum," as well. we have "visual" calendars and "transitions" are a freaking nightmare.
and now i have a 3 month old little girl. she's already convinced me that she's going to talk before her big brother. she actual smiles...like she gets it. i well up with tears bc...well...she responds "typically." the tight, heavy knot in my chest releases when i look at her bc i think to myself, "wow, this must be what it's like to have a typical child." what DOES EVERYBODY COMPLAIN ABOUT?! this is so easy! yet, she's still a baby, and i needed your reminder today to continue to cater to her needs, too.
it's just nice to know that after waking up every day for 3 years wondering if it was going to be World War 2324342343 with my firstborn, i can exhale with her and recognize that ...well... there is redemption, after all...

allison

by the way, i live in alexandria, virginia, and i hope you're prepared for the day i happen to see you in person and hug you and probably start crying...because you've been my hero for so, so, so long...

allison

by the way, i live in alexandria, virginia, and i hope you're prepared for the day i happen to see you in person and hug you and probably start crying...because you've been my hero for so, so, so long...

Elise

Give him some extra snuggles at bedtime tonight and try to give yourself a little grace. He seems like a very well adjusted and sweet little boy and I'm sure he knows he is loved.

SarahC @ w30

Oh Em Gee so sweet. Lovely, lovely ode to an adorable little dude.

Cath

Even when you feel like you are fucking up, you are teaching him things about the world--things he needs to know. I'd say you can def put yourself back in the Good Mommy category.

erin

loved it all. love u! i've raised a few kids and have done the same things. . . go into auto parenting mode. . . it feels good. . . for a second. . . but it's all good because you figured out the problem. . . and i love the 'angry bird' reference. ha ha!
xoxo

bethany actually

Okay, I held it together till the part about Ezra asking his teacher to pick him up. That's when my eyes got watery. Then the very last line made me lose it completely.

You are such a fantastic writer, Amy. Thank you for sharing your talent with us, and sharing a little bit of your family with us, too.

AJ Oster

Thanks for this one, Amy!! I don't have my own child with special needs, but I am an educational speech/language pathologist and throughout college worked with adults with developmental disabilities. For so long, any people I was caring for or working with took some special "negotiating". Now I'm home with my 4- and 2-year-old who are both highly verbal and wise beyond their years and have ALWAYS thrown me off with this type of stuff-I often have to remind myself that they ARE still small children and maybe DO need a little coddling and extra kisses and hugs. :-)

Christine

I'm amazed that they expect you to drop of not-yet-3-year-olds at the door and for them to be fine with that. It took two weeks for my 5-year-old to be fine with that in kindergarten this year. At my daughter's nursery school (she's just three weeks younger than Ez) parents are welcome to stay in the classroom as long as they need to - though once you say goodbye you should probably go ahead and go, because it's just prolonging the agony for a kid who doesn't like separating.

But anyway. I also wanted to say not to beat yourself up about forgetting to explain things to Ezra because he doesn't have Noah's challenges - I think it's just something that happens to second children, because I do the same thing. You expect that because they've been there all along, they just know better how things work. Sometimes it's even true.

Emily

Hi Amy, what a sweet entry this is. Your boys are very lucky!

At the moment I am in my third week of knowing and working with a high functioning autistic 5 year old (6 next month) in a kindergarten classroom. While reading this all the 'wrong' things stood out to me - not wrong as in bad, but wrong as in not what you were writing about - because Noah suddenly reminds me a lot of my little guy.

If you have a moment, would you be able to recommend a social stories guide to me? I'm doing a professional specialization course in special education which is great, but it's sooo theoretical that it all flies out of my head when I'm trying to make sense of why SOMETIMES you have to put your hand up or you get in trouble, but SOMETIMES you're also allowed to call out. It's like trying to explain how 'enough' actually spells enough without saying "I don't know, the English language just sucks sometimes."

Meg

Dude you made me cry. I DON'T CRY. Also really wish that I were able to have kids. I love your stories.

tracey

God, I could have written this one about my middle child. In fact, I think I did and you just stole it, changed the names and added some humor. WHATEVER. Fine. Thief.

Just wait till like Ike starts being less of a baby and more a Kid. It's crazy how different all 3 of my children are. It's only recently (12 years into it) that I stopped expecting the younger 2 to act out like their brother (high needs) did...

They're all still alive and nobody needs therapy. Yet.

Plano Mom

Yeah. Get used to that. Did it with my incredible son this morning. Forgot he was only 12. Already trying to figure out how to apologize enough for him to trust me again.

amy

Ah Mah Gawd he is SO CUTE!!

Cut yourself some slack, momma. You have a LOT going on right now. Extra snuggles with your little guy should help you both!

I have to consistently remind myself that my daughter is ONLY , and she has been exactly like you've described in your post, since she could walk. SO independent. SO verbal. SO articulate. She was even chastised by a store clerk one Xmas season for not helping me out with her baby brother. She was four years old. I asked the clerk how old she THOUGHT she was, and the clerk guessed 6 or 7. Yikes. There has been a heap of expectations put upon this girl of mine. SIGH. Time to back-pedal and treat our children like children!

not supergirl

I'll chime in with the others. I've done the same thing to my younger daughter. When her big sis was in kindergarten, Nora would go with me to school events and beg to stay in the classroom with the teacher. We'd visited school to have lunch with big sister's class and played on the playground. However, when it came time to actually attend kindergarten with the playground and the lunchroom and the same kindergarten teacher she already knew, she was terrified. I took her comfort for granted and just didn't anticipate how different this was going to feel to her. Damn it. We switched schools this year due to a move, and this time I did better. Someday hopefully I'll be good enough for these awesome girls.

Jessica

It's interesting because I am the "troubled" middle child with an older special needs sibling and a younger brother. What I see in Ezra reminds me so much of myself. The benign "neglect" as you attempt to meet Noah's needs and the baby's needs is just fine. I experienced the same and it gave me the room to be just me -with a crazy fertile imagination that still feeds me 40 years later, the ability to take care of myself and the ability to take care of other people. The only thing I'm not good at is standing my ground. As time goes on, I predict that Ezra will be your greatest ally in life... that's what I am to my mom and she is for me.

Shannon

Ezra and my son are so similar. It's cute.

JP

Oh how I love to read your musings. Your kids are so incredibly lucky to have such a rockin' mom.
You're one lucky mom too. Love this post.
Ezra's faces at the end kill me! So so cute.

Monica

Awww...I don't think you're alone in that confession. I understand trying to describe a child and knowing everything you write falls a little short, because you just can't quite verbalize the sparkle they have. That you constantly gut check yourself and realize that you maybe, kinda forgot that he's only 3 makes you such a great mama. And, don't worry about the words, his sparkle is captured in his photos. This boy is gonna be juuuust fiiine!

Casie

Shame. You should give me Ezra. Because damn. the cute.

Casie

Shame. You should give me Ezra. Because damn. the cute. It's overwhelming.

agirlandaboy

I'm amazed at how hard it's been for me to remember the "only." Wombat can do so much, and yet he's ONLY two. Only. And not for long, either.

kristen howerton

I so get this. My oldest also has SPD. I'm constantly worried about every aspect of his life - social, academic, etc. My daughter, on the other hand, seems to have an easy time with pretty much everything. I do tend to assume that everything is rosy all of the time for her (and perhaps even neglect/ignore some of her needs in the process). This year I was blindsided by some social struggles she had in preschool that I'm sure I would have been more aware of if I wasn't always so distracted with fretting over her older brother's seemingly more pressing issues. It's a hard balance.

Prerak

Thanks for the information

Jasmine

Every child needs the reassurance ... I remember (being the 2nd child) how my mother never encouraged me verbally, yet expected me to live up to the expectations my sister had set. I learnt to never expect any attention from my parents, growing to even reject their attempts to do so, deeming it 'too little, too late'. Don't sideline your second! :)

blouson

Honestly I think this is the first post of yours I have read and sort of winced. If I was Noah THIS post would crush me. Reading it when I was 15 or 16. I'd be hurt. Be careful Amalah....there's a sort tinge here of somnething I find a bit distasteful...sort of smug? Braggy? And I get it, after always having "THAT" kid, the hard kid, how sweet the intoxication is, to finally get positive comments, to have a kid who does things well and easily. I just caution you. It is far too eraly to label Ezra as one type and Noah the other. Things may surprise you...be open to that possibility. Don't put them in boxes because people don't belong in boxes. Just love them.

blouson

Honestly I think this is the first post of yours I have read and sort of winced. If I was Noah THIS post would crush me. Reading it when I was 15 or 16. I'd be hurt. Be careful Amalah....there's a sort tinge here of somnething I find a bit distasteful...sort of smug? Braggy? And I get it, after always having "THAT" kid, the hard kid, how sweet the intoxication is, to finally get positive comments, to have a kid who does things well and easily. I just caution you. It is far too eraly to label Ezra as one type and Noah the other. Things may surprise you...be open to that possibility. Don't put them in boxes because people don't belong in boxes. Just love them.

The comments to this entry are closed.