Friday, December 24, 2010

Reverb 10: December 24th: Everything's OK

This post is part of Reverb 10.

December 24 Prompt – Everything’s OK

What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

(Author: Kate Inglis)

Being a mom is my most important job. So it would stand to reason that it is one of my biggest stressors. Although I've been a mom for 10 years, this year has felt like a completely different ballgame. I felt like a new mom all over again because after 3 kids, I was all of a sudden being hit with new challenges I never expected. As Parker's personality began to take shape and he entered toddlerhood, I had to learn as though it were the first time, how to parent a spirited toddler.

I refuse to call him my 'bad' child or anything of the sort. He's just different. The behaviors he shows me are both polar opposite of the behaviors I saw out of Naomi and Nathan at age 2, and also very similar to how I imagine I was at age 2. He is most definitely my most aggressive, my most rambunctious, my most independent, my most busy-non-stop child. Couple that with his hearing/speech delay and I'm clearly out of my element.

It was around April that I realized the few words Parker said were not enough for his age. We discovered hearing loss and had tubes put in. I held out hope that we would see improvement based on the tubes, but really we didn't. He has been in some pretty intensive speech therapy over the last 7 months (2 hours a week for 3 months and now 1 hour a week for the last 4). I have seen the most progress lately, after we added daycare into the mix.

Still, he's way behind in speech. Eventually I realized that his speech delay had completely infiltrated his behavior as well. He gets so frustrated that he can't tell you what he wants to say and he doesn't always understand what you are saying. After some meetings and evaluations, we added a few hours a month of behavioral therapy as well. We've introduced some basic discipline methods and structure in the house. Luckily, we already had quite a bit of structure...the evenings run like clockwork around here, and bedtimes are pretty smooth. We have our moments but things are getting better.

Sharing is difficult for Parker and Naomi. They are typical siblings. Close in age, young, neither wants the other to have a toy. This is normal behavior, I understand, but still undesired! It has gotten worse over the last few months and we are working on it pretty heavily. Lots of positive reinforcement, reminders, etc.

Today I realized everything was going to be OK. We were on our way to Cincinnati and the kids had done fine for the first 60 minutes of the trip. We were at the last 15 minutes and they were getting antsy. I decided it was time to let them play with my phone. I had gotten the iPhone a week before, and had downloaded some kid-friendly apps on it, but I still had been reluctant to let them hold the phone. Of course, I don't want it damaged. Additionally, there's only one phone and two cantankerous children in the backseat.

I was driving, so James loaded up the FluidToy2 app I had downloaded. It is just a funny little liquid motion kind of app that swirls under your finger when you touch it. We told them they had to share. Their eyes were aglow with the wonder of it all. At first Parker would hold it and play with it for a minute, and after about 60 seconds we'd tell him to give it to Naomi and vice versa. They obliged. We praised them for doing such a good job. Then they started passing it back and forth without being reminded. It was awesome! James queued up another app, the SteamDraw can put a picture on it, we chose one of Parker and one of Naomi, respectively, and then they can draw in the steam that is over their face. They drew moustaches and beards and glasses and well, just rubbed the steam away. They had so much fun! And they shared the whole time. It was kind of like a Christmas miracle.

I knew at that moment that if we could make such great strides in their behavior, especially Parker's, in such a short amount of time, that we could travel the rest of the road in 2011. The effort we are putting in is paying off tenfold, and is so worth it. We get 5 more months of behavioral therapy before he ages out of the program at age 3. If we can continue to make this sort of progress with him/them over the next 5 months, I'm hoping he'll be more of a typical toddler/preschooler. He'll always be spirited, but that part is ok with me!

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