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It’s finalized. Simon will attend full-day kindergarten at the school my other children attend.
He’ll have help, but he’ll be in a regular classroom. He’ll need breaks. He’ll need guidance. He’ll still need speech and occupational therapies. But for the first time, he’ll be doing something academically that my other kids did.
The first two went to the touchy-feely, granola-eating nature preschool. They went outside no matter what the weather. They were given freedom to explore their surroundings and partake in activities mostly at will. They loved it.
But it wasn’t for Simon. Early childhood special education, small classrooms and therapists were what he needed. So we did that. Though I was a bit sad that he was missing out on such a special experience, he didn’t seem to know or care.
Now, he’ll be at the elementary school across the street that partners with the nature center. They still go outside every day. But the day is a bit more structured, and they provide help for kids who need it.
We had a meeting with staff members who will undoubtedly get to know Simon very well in his five years at the school, and I’m optimistic that he’ll do well. I think full days are going to be an adjustment, but once it becomes his routine, I am hopeful that he will love it.
I worry about other kids teasing him and his temper flaring up, but our school is no-tolerance in the bullying department. Kids are taught to be accepting and inclusive from Day One. Then I worry that actually might be a problem for Simon on the other end, as he tends to whack children who get into his personal space or don’t comply with his rigid ideas about how play should proceed.
I worry that his fine motor skills are not where they should be, and he’s really not writing at all. He can scratch out his name, but he can’t write other letters, despite three years of special education preschool. He’s not good with a scissors. Glue on his hands could cause a meltdown. I know these are all typical for a child on the spectrum. But he’s my child, and I worry that others won’t see what he can accomplish with some patience.
I worry incessantly about him leaving the protective bubble of special ed and mixing in with the other kids. He’s in a mixed preschool now, but his teacher is a special ed teacher, and she really seems to get him.
In short, I worry. I worry, I worry, I worry, and kindergarten is a whole summer away.
So. This. is. the. big. week.
We find out Thursday what the experts say about Simon’s beautiful little brain.
The past few weeks have been excellent, and I’m hopeful that he’s turning a corner. He transitioned to a big boy bed without any trouble at all. He is engaging in imaginative play like crazy. He’s talking up a storm.
But it seems like every time I get hopeful, something smacks me in the face.
So knock on some wood with me. I’ll let you all know Thursday what the verdict is.
Yesterday, I stayed home with a sick Simon.
Fever put a slight damper on his usual manic qualities, and he actually sat next to me, allowed himself to be covered with a blanket and watched an entire television show.
It was 20 minutes long, but still! 20 whole minutes of mommy-toddler cocoon, and the best part — the best part! — was that he let me hold his hand and stroke his pudgy little fingers.
I softly ran my fingers over the top of his hand, and I noticed he has a little freckle just at the base of his ring finger.
That freckle just about killed me.
By three years old, I knew every inch of the other two’s bodies. I had stroked, tickled and kissed every part of them. I knew every freckle, mole and blemish.
But even getting Simon to cooperate with a diaper change is difficult. He never sits down long enough to be examined by his mommy’s curious fingers.
Makes me wonder what other cuteness I’m missing.
Preface: Before lunch, he was outside. He came in soaked from puddle-stomping, despite rain pants and boots. I took off his soggy socks. He wanted dry socks, but I (somehow) talked him into eating barefoot. I told him we’d put on fresh socks after lunch.
Me: Simon, let’s go take a nap!
Him: NOOOO! Runs over and smacks his sister, who is dilligently coloring a butterfly cutout, on the head. She starts screaming. I try to grab him. He darts away, into the dining room. I corner him there. I try to pick him up, but he’s gone limp in protest, and he’s too damn heavy. I’m going to have to bring out the sweet-talk.
Walking up the stairs, sing-songy: Siimoooon! I’m going up to see the Millennium Falcon! And read Goodnight Moon! I bet you can’t find the red balloon!
He’s intrigued. Walking toward the stairs. He’s there! I show him his bottle. Here’s your bottle! Come on, bud! I’m backing up the stairs, shaking it in front of him. He gets two stairs up before he flips onto his back and starts screaming and banging his head.
Bottle! Millennium Falcon! Come on, tiger. Let’s go! Do you want me to carry you?
Carry me! I start back down the stairs. Nooo! I sit down, defeated, sigh and get up again.
Come on, Simon! Let’s go read books. Please? If I can just get him upstairs … I walk toward his room. He’s following me!
I wait for him in his room, sitting on the rocking chair. He stands outside the door, still silently protesting.
In the great green room, there was a telephone … Do you know where the telephone is? He points. Ha! Got him!
And a red balloon … Where’s the red balloon? Points again. I try to pull him up on my lap. He goes limp, slithering off my legs.
Socks! I want socks!
OK! I reach into the drawer and pull out a pair. I lean over, grab a pudgy foot and try to stuff it into a sock.
No socks? OK. No socks.
I want socks!!!! I bend over again.
Noooo!!! My patience is wearing thin. I wrestle the socks onto his feet. He inspects them for a while; decides the socks are acceptable.
And a picture of … the cow jumping over the moon! He’s still standing a few feet away from me. He starts grunting.
Simon, did you go poop?
Yes, change me.
OK. I lift him to the changing table. He kicks me in the face. I ignore it, take his pants off.
Put my pants on! I want the brown pants!! The brown pants!!
Simon, you were wearing the brown pants, and I’ll put them back on as soon as I change you.
Noooo!!!! The brown pants! He pauses, thinking for a moment. The gray pants! I want the gray pants!
The gray pants are dirty.
The brown pants!
These are brown pants. I wrestle them back on. See? They’re cool brown pants! They even have a little pocket! I rip open the velcro on his cargo pocket and crab a tiny car from the carpet. I try to put it in the pocket. Mistake!
Noooo!!!! I want to put THIS car in the pocket! The truck he’s holding is twice as big as the pocket.
Simon, that one won’t fit. Should we find a different small car?
No!! This one!
It won’t fit, Simon. Let’s finish reading Goodnight Moon. He grabs his blanket and reluctantly climbs onto my lap. We finish the book.
OK, Simon, one song.
I’m a little tiger, and my mommy loves me …
Big blue truck!
I’m a big blue truck and my mommy loves me, I’m a big blue truck and my mommy loves me. When she tucks me in and says goodnight …
Big black truck! This game continues until we’ve exhausted five or six vehicles.
OK, Simon, time for bed! I plop him in his crib.
Superbear! Where’s Superbear’s cape? Where’s the CAPE? Where’s the cape?!?! I pluck the red satin cape from the floor and affix it to Superbear’s skin-tight leotard. Simon smiles. I cover him with the yellow blanket and the green blanket, and leave the white blanket by his head.
Here, I’ll read the trucks book, then it’s time to go to sleep. I flash the pictures in front of his face as he begins to relax. Big rig, dump truck, car transporter … I finish the book and start out the door. See you later alligator! After while, crocodile!
NOTHER BOOK! NOTHER BOOOOOOK!!!!!
I knew this was coming. I grab a few books from the table. OK. One more. Do you want the tow truck or the train book?
I sigh and begin reading. I’m a big tow truck, and I like to help people …
I read the train book, too. I can’t stop thinking of how patient his dad is, how he always gets Simon to go to sleep without tears. Finally, it’s time to cut him off. Good night Simon! See you later Alligator.
NOOO!!! He’s definitely going to cry himself to sleep again. NOTHER BOOK! NOTHER BOOOOOOK!! He’s sobbing as I shut the door.
I go down the stairs and shut the door to the second floor. I stumble to my bed, put my hands over my face and try not to scream. I should probably go see the artwork Clare’s working on, but I really need to be alone right now.
So Simon is in special ed. I’m fine with, even happy about it.
His speech is improving. His fine motor skills are coming along nicely.
And today, we moved one step closer to correcting his crossed eyes.
So why do I spend so much time sighing?
Because his behavior, the thing that has frustrated us most, has not improved. He still hits, kicks, bites and head butts everyone he knows and even some people he doesn’t.
He bit his day care teacher so hard she got a round purple bruise punctuated by little tooth-mark hyphens. She was in his personal space.
He stabbed our beloved cat with a screwdriver as he was wheezing out some of his final breaths. The cat was the center of attention at the time.
Something is not right. I’ve tried everything I can think of. We have figured out some things, such as yelling never helps, even to get him to stop doing something that could hurt him. For instance if I yell, “HOT!” as he’s reaching for the stovetop, he’ll rush his hand there all the faster.
If he accidentally hits his head on, say, the kitchen countertop, he’ll lash out and bang his head some more on the floor. I don’t dare try to comfort him in that situation. He’ll head butt or bite me for sure.
We’re constantly walking on eggshells. The other kids are getting shortchanged. The geek and I are bickering over really stupid things.
So yesterday, I called Fraser, a center moms of special-needs kids seem to worship. He’s on a waiting list to be evaluated for Autism. That’s not to say I am certain that’s what it is, or even that the Fraser people think that. It could be something else entirely. But I want someone to tell me what it is, and I WANT HELP. I don’t know how to handle him. If he continues like this, he can’t possibly function in the real world.
I hope it’s something I’m doing wrong. I hope someone can tell me what to do better. But my gut says it’s something more.
I hear all the time about parents who are in denial, who don’t want to hear that something might be wrong with their child. Honestly, I have to believe those people are few, because right now, in the thick of it, I would do anything to find out how to help him. He’s frustrated and angry all the time. So are we. I want us all to be happy, and I really don’t care what it takes. If it means someone has to throw a label on him, fine. So be it. Label the hell out of him. Just help me help him, please.
But hey, it’s not all dark clouds and death around here! Check out the new kitty — he purrs and purrs and plays and he’s super-duper soft and yay! I think we all needed something cute and cuddly, and we found him. His name is Harry.
Lunch today, The Geek’s tomato soup. Bordering on heaven. Seriously. I’m showing Simon how to dip his grilled cheese into it when Ed asks me how it is.
“Delicious,” I say.
Simon, obediently dipping, says, “Dewisssus.”
“Did you hear that?”
He’s engrossed in the Sports section. “Harmpfh.”
Simon continues for about 5 minutes, dragging his sandwich through the soup, repeating, “Dewisssus. Dewissus.”
Finally, his father comes up for air and engages his son. “Simon, is that delicious?”
“Simon, is that delicious?”
Hummm. Refrigerator buzzing.
He points to his crackers. “Dewisssus!”
I might have finally scored one.
The other two are so firmly entrenched as daddy’s kids that I know there’s no hope. I was one; I know there’s no winning over a daddy’s girl. (Sorry mom; I love you dearly.)
But the third kid has come at the end of daddy’s rope. And he happens to be the most typical two-year-old of the bunch, if you catch my drift. I’ve witnessed Mr. Patience snapping more than a few times recently. And I’ve discovered I am enjoying tickling toes and wrestling with the last baby.
Because it’s my last summer at home with the kids during the day, I started taking them on special outings every Wednesday. We all really look forward to it as special time that’s devoted to nothing but fun.
Last week it was scorching hot outside, so we took the indoor route and went to one of those warehouses jam-packed with inflatable slides and jumpy things. Honestly, I’ve never seen such unadulterated joy. Simon raced from jumper to jumper on his tippy toes, squealing most of the way. I ran after him, and we bounced, slid, threw balls and played night-night for two hours.
Since then, he’s been jumping into my lap every morning, saying, “Jumping with mama! Jumping with mama!” He also hasn’t protested me putting him down for his nap and has even picked my lap over The Geek’s here and there.
Who knows if it will stick, but for now, I’ll take my mama’s boy. (And maybe take him jumping a few more times.)
* So get on updating that Flickr page, would you, partner?
Ed’s latest missive:
Simon spent the evening gathering armloads of green apples from the low branches of the apple tree and chasing bewildered rabbits through the neighbor’s yard in between snack trips to the blueberry bushes. I was casually aware of all of this as I tossed balls to the older kids. After rounding the corner from one of his berry expeditions the little hipster struts up to me sporting a powder blue goatee.
Not from the blueberries. It’s really powder. It turns out that Simon has acquired a taste for chalk. He doesn’t just flip a hunk of sidewalk chalk into his mouth, though. There is a specific preparation method.
First, one selects a suitable piece of chalk – blue, perhaps? – and sets it on a hard, flat surface. Next, one jumps on it repeatedly. Once the chalk is properly pulverized, push the powder into a pile. Finally, and this part is key, shove your mouth into the pile.
Then, off again to stalk the rabbits, my little blue-moustachioed hunter-gatherer.
Clare wears mostly sundresses in the summer, and lately, in the process of getting ready in the morning, I’ve found her underwear still sitting on the coffee table long after she’s been dressed.
I nag her constantly to put them on, and she resists.
“I don’t want to put them on, mommy!”
Under my breath, “Because it’s fun to go commando.”
“Commando? What’s that?”
She flips her bare bottom into the air, doing a headstand on the couch.
“COMMANDO! COMMANDO! I’m going COMMANDO!”
Good thing there’s no current preschool teacher for her to repeat that one to.
So I’ll let The Geek entertain you. Here’s an e-mail from tonight, in its entirety.
Simon picks up a full cup of water, takes a drink, and “looks” at me. You know the look.
“Simon, don’t spill.”
He empties the cup on the kitchen floor.
Before I can even react, he hollers, “TIME OUT!” and dashes out of the room in a grinning, toe stepping, flash of blonde.
In the other room he’s singing the time-out song and dancing like a crazy monkey on a hot plate . “Time out. Tiiiime out. Timeout. Time out. Time out.”