The Anniversary of a Diagnosis

A year ago, I received

a diagnosis,

a slap in the face,

a validation.

No mother wants to admit she feels a slight twinge of relief at hearing something is “wrong” with her child.

But I did.  A small, small part of me thought, So it’s not me.  I’m not a horrible mother.  I have a difficult child.  It isn’t this hard for every mother.

Feelings are feelings.  What can I say?

Of course, those thoughts were immediately bulldozed by feelings of deep sadness, fear, and shame. Sadness for my three-year old son who had to deal with these struggles, fear these struggles would overwhelm and consume him, and deep shame that I felt that earlier twinge of validation.

What’s also surprising about receiving a diagnosis is that, on the surface, nothing changes.  After our initial meeting with the doctor, we went about our day.  There wasn’t an immediate transformation or quick fix.  In fact, pinpointing a diagnosis our insurance company could accept took months.  Any change my son actually felt (in the way of therapies, special needs preschool, and the implementation of an IEP) was months down the line.

But for me, the change was immediate.

In an instant, I was told there was a name for my frustrations, for my son’s frustrations.

Autism.

I didn’t truly understand what the word meant beyond the stereotypes, but I knew in that moment, this word and I would come to know each other on a visceral level.

And we have.

Autism is feisty.  It refuses to pin itself down to just one definition.  Some days, I question whether autism really belongs in the list of terms to define my son. Then it slaps me in the face, boldly reminding me it is a term that defies boundaries.  I don’t know I’ll ever be able to provide it a proper definition.

While autism may be an intriguing word, I’ve also learned it’s just one of many words to describe my oldest son. It has some fierce competition with intelligence, strength, and passion. 

A year ago, I received

word,

an insight,

an understanding.

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What my Special-needs Son CAN Do

ASD: Autism Spectrum Disorder   SPD: Sensory-processing Disorder

Many with ASD also have SPD.  Welcome to the land of acronyms.

My four year-old son was diagnosed with ASD last February.  If you’re a parent of a child labeled with special needs, then you know what it’s like to agonize over what your child can’t do.  It becomes an obsession; you imagine a life full of dreams dashed.

For this very post, I had planned on writing about how Big C can’t play catch, even though his twenty-two month-old brother so desperately wants to play with him.  When Big C catches the ball (on the rare occasion he does), he just runs off with it.

But I never wrote that post.  Because I realized,

Who gives a shit?  

My son’s lack of desire or ability to play catch isn’t a deal-breaker to happiness.  He doesn’t care.  Why should I?

It got me thinking.  Instead of agonizing over my son’s struggles, what if I focused on his strengths?  This is such a more productive and positive way of thinking, it’s embarrassing to admit it took so long to consider it, but that’s what happens to us as parents when professionals start slapping labels on our children.  We get scared, we get defensive, we get deflated.

So for this post, I want to take a moment to celebrate what makes my oldest son truly special to me.  This is what Big C can do:

  • My son can experience life with an intensity many long for.  His moments of happiness are so amplified, he cannot help but literally shout, embrace, and jump for joy.
  • My son can persevere.  He gets angry and frustrated, but always presses on.  A month ago, he wanted to learn how to ice skate.  As he grew more frustrated, I became frustrated and wanted to stop, but he told me, “No, Mommy.  We can’t give up.  I have to do this!”
  • My son can melt my heart with his compliments.  I was trying a dress on recently and he said, “Oh Mommy, you look beautiful.  Just like a princess!”
  • My son can show true remorse.  Without fail, after a meltdown, he will come to me and say sorry.  Sometimes, it doesn’t come until the next day, but it always comes when he truly is sorry and ready to admit it.
  • My son can pay exquisite attention to a task he is truly interested in.  In recent months, he’s demonstrated his ability to play for hours with Legos, creating the most imaginative creatures, vehicles, and buildings.
  • My son can feel selfless love.  Whenever I catch him giving his younger brother a kiss or hug just because he’s overwhelmed with emotion for him at that moment, my eyes and my heart swell.
  • My son gets me.  Just this weekend, I had my own minor meltdown and went upstairs to cool down and take a break.  My son followed me upstairs and said, “Mommy, just take a deep breath.”  He then sat beside me and rested his head on my shoulder.  “It’ll be okay.”
  • My son can bring tears to my eyes.  If you could see me now, you’d know exactly what I mean.

Now, it’s your turn to share.  What can your amazing children do?  Let’s celebrate them here!

Note: this post is part of a blog hop. Click the link below to read more blogs about what it’s like to have a sensory-special kid!

SensoryBlogHop

This post also appears on Sammiches and Psych Meds.
A version of this post also appears on The Mighty. 

 

“Body Calm, Mommy!”

Photo Cred: visualcues.wikispaces

This picture look familiar to anyone?  It was brand-new to me until last spring when my now four year-old son (Big C) received the diagnosis of ASD and the floodgates opened.  Suddenly, I was inundated with cue cards and visuals designed to help us as parents “manage” our son.

I’m learning very quickly that parents have very mixed emotions about this kind of stuff.  I’ve read blogs where parents are outraged by concepts like “quiet hands” and see techniques such as ABA therapy akin to torture and brainwashing (I’ll admit I’ve had my share of bad experiences).

I’m becoming a quick study and am discovering very quickly that I learn best simply by following the cues of my own kid (crazy concept, huh?)  ABA wasn’t for us, but man, does he dig the visuals!  My husband and I tried a visual schedule this summer, and it was like a magical talisman.  Does it work 100% of the time?  Of course not, but it sure does help.  Just making him aware of what’s coming next alleviates so much stress for him (and his Mommy too!)

An extension of the visual schedule are the use of visual cue cards.  His teachers at preschool and daycare use them often, especially during circle time, when he struggles to sit still and focus.

Imagine. A four-year old boy who doesn’t want to sit still.

All joking aside, while I’m pleased the visual cards are helping him focus, I’m way more concerned with managing his aggression.  He’s an emotional little guy, and if he’s mad (and tired) enough, he will hit, throw, kick, scream – even bite on the rare occasion.

This is where the “Body Calm” technique has proven effective.  Again, for my son.

When he starts to escalate, he’s learning to self-regulate, doing as the picture illustrates and wrapping his arms around his chest and taking deep breaths.  Does he usually need prompting?  Sure.  Does it always work?  Heck no.

But I know he’s getting it. Case in point:

Just a few weeks ago, I was all in a huff because my husband (who usually does morning drop-off with the boys) had to go into work early.  I was stressing trying to pack lunches, book bags, and get my two boys out the door before my own job start time of 7:15 am.

Big C, sensing my distress (he’s highly attune to emotions) very loudly proclaimed to me, “Mommy, you need to get your body calm!”

It totally worked.  I busted out laughing, said, “You’re right,” and we did it together.

I’m happy to report I had a calm rest of the day thanks to my little life coach.

How have your children coached you through life?

Note: this post is part of a blog hop. Click the link below to read more blogs about what it’s like to have a sensory-special kid!

The Sensory Spectrum

A version of this post also appears on The Jenny Evolution.

 

“Wanna smell my feet?”

This question is asked daily of me by my four year-old son diagnosed with autism.  Call it hypersensitive.  Call it hyper-curious.  Call it what you will.  He is obsessed with his sense of smell.

His favorite question is not “why?” but rather, “Can I smell?”

He’s no smelling snob.  He wants to smell it all: hair, soap, water, lollipops, flowers, paper, laundry, dirt, chalk, grass, crayons, hands, his little brother’s diaper-clad butt, our cats, his car seat, all meals, his mother’s glass of vino (wine connoisseur may very likely be in his future.  The boy’s got the sniffing part down).

If there’s a scent, he’ll find it.

When he walks into a room, it’s not uncommon to see him, sniffer in the air, commenting that he “smells something.”  This is rarely said with a look of disgust, but rather a look of extreme curiosity, as if he’s trying to decipher a great mystery.  He has yet to properly label a smell; instead, when asked what something smells like, he will usually respond simply with, “it smells!”

The specific obsession with smelling feet is partly to blame on my husband.  Nearly a year ago, he was wrestling with Big C, pinned him, pretended to smell his feet, and then pretended they were super stinky.  Well, Big C thought this was hilarious, and it soon became an ongoing ritual.  This inevitably led to him wanting others to smell his feet, a request he makes upon various members of our family frequently.  Conversely, he enjoys smelling other’s feet and has no qualms about asking to do so.

We’ve had “the talk.”  You know.  The one where you have to explain when it is and is not appropriate to smell other’s feet: “the exchanging of foot smelling should be done in the privacy of one’s home, not in the school or workplace.”

What?  That’s not a “rite of passage” conversation all parents have with their children?

At any rate, this whole “feet thing” is kinda cute and all ‘cuz he’s four.

But when he’s fourteen, it may be a different story.

Because let’s be real; feet are kinda gross.

What is your strongest sense?  


Cín / Foter / CC BY-NC

 

Note: this post is part of a blog hop. Click the link below to read more blogs about what it’s like to have a sensory-special kid!

The Sensory Spectrum

 

A Mother Divided

Most working moms have apprehension and anxiety over sending their children to daycare.  Fortunately, for most, they will eventually discover daycare isn’t so bad and that their children thrive in the environment.

Most moms ain’t me.

I dread daycare. It terrifies me.  All of those feelings of apprehension and anxiety are completely founded on my part.  My oldest son has been kicked out of daycare.  He has been more or less removed from preschool.  He has caused a nanny to quit.

You can see why today, when I took my two boys back to daycare for the first time since June, I was a little freaked out.  In fact, I’ve been agonizing over it for weeks, getting in touch with the school social worker and psychologist, speaking with his new teachers, making social stories, trying to get everything in place to ensure that this day would be a good one.

That’s a lot of pressure.

But guess what?  It was a great day.

As many of you know,  my four year-old Big C has high-functioning autism and a nasty temper, so daycare settings have proven to be a challenge; however, it would appear all of my dedication with him this summer (along with his social skills class, OT,  Speech, and his visual schedule, God love it) has paid off because he was awesome.  He couldn’t wait to go to school: “I’m all set!”  He was all smiles when his classmates greeted him with a hello by name.  The school social worker (who seriously must have wings hiding behind her cute cardigan) stopped in for a visit to check-in and also commented on how great the day was.  When I picked him up, he was sitting with a group of other boys playing cooperatively.  He didn’t come running to me.  In fact, he looked hesitant, but smiled, and asked if he could stay a little longer to play.

Seriously?  Needless to say, I was all smiles and so proud, even a little tearful.

In swoops the Mommy guilt.  I mentioned it was a great day, but I forgot the qualifier.  It was a great day for my oldest son.  For my youngest, not so much.

Since Big C’s diagnosis last February, I have put so much of my time and energy into ensuring Big C’s success that, on some level, I’ve just been assuming 16 month-old Little C will be “just fine.”  He really is an easygoing kid.

But not today.  He had a rough one.  He wanted to be held most of the day (which is so not like him), he didn’t nap at all (also not like him), he hardly ate (are you sure this is my kid you’re talking about?) and he bit another child (okay, that sounds a little like him).  As soon as I picked him up from the teacher holding him, he clung to me like a little koala and made that sporadic sound of breath that comes after a long cry.  He didn’t babble.  He didn’t smile.  He just held tight.  He did perk up once we got home, but I cannot forget that lost look on his face right before I held him.

I end this post feeling conflicted.  I feel like I have a great success story here with Big C. He has been my main muse for much of this blog thus far, and since its inception, he’s made some amazing leaps and bounds.

But what about Little C?  When is it his turn for a little attention?

Tomorrow is always a new day, little buddy.  Let’s tackle this biting bit, shall we?


funky fat girl / Foter / CC BY

 

 

Why NOT throwing your child a birthday party is okay

Bounce houses, rambunctious party games, sugary candy, caffeinated soda, cheap party favors, food left out on banquet tables for children to grab, spill, and lick, large pinatas inevitably leading to kids blindfolded with bats…

If these images send chills down your spine, you’re like me and, likely, you have a kid like mine who gets overwhelmed and overstimulated in a party setting.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love parties.  But now that I have a four year-old with ASD and a one year-old in tow, parties mean work, and lots of it.  I spend my time at parties running around like a maniac, trying to ensure my children don’t create too much havoc and, if they do, at least other parents will see me attempting to stop it versus sitting in a lawn chair enjoying an adult beverage (man, that sounds nice).   The relaxing for me comes at home, hours later when the kids are finally in bed, with my feet up and a glass of wine in hand.

Let’s face it though. It’s become a societal expectation to throw outlandish parties for our children.  Every year around this time, I get catalogs in the mail for kid-party theme kits running upwards of two hundred dollars for decorations alone.

Don’t tell me I’m alone in thinking it’s a little overkill.

So this year, we decided to forego conventions.  For Big C’s fourth birthday this past Friday, my husband and I decided not to throw a party.

Don’t get me wrong.  Big C still had lots to look forward to as we carefully listened to his comments about what he was expecting.  A new episode of Astroblast was in our DVR queue, a paper crown was set delicately upon a couch cushion, and we were sure to say, “Surprise!” when he walked down the stairs to his banner and balloons.  Certainly, we sang “Happy Birthday!” and he blew out four candles.

But…

I didn’t make the cake.  Big C helped me pick it out at Meijer.

I didn’t cook.  Big C got his favorite: Jet’s cheese bread with Ranch dipping sauce.

I didn’t buy party favors or play party games.  Big C spent much of his day playing in the new sandbox his Daddy made him.

I didn’t have a bunch of kids over.  His grandma, grandpa, and great-grandma were the only guests in attendance.

Big C was completely clueless he “missed out” on a big ‘ol party.  In his mind, his every birthday wish was fulfilled.  In fact, he told us repeatedly that it was a “Great day!” and “Thank you very much!”

Big C went to bed happy.

And I went to bed with a happy heart.

And a clean house.

Bonus.

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A version of this post also appears on Sammiches and Psych Meds.

 

“Oh, he’s just stimming.”

Stimming: Everybody’s doin’ it.

Even you.

I have a confession.  I stim.  Every night.  It calms me.

Before I go to bed, I count off on my fingers how many hours of sleep I will get.  Sometimes, I have to count half a dozen times just to get that sense of peace.

Sound odd?  Maybe a little.  I remember doing this as early as third grade.  I have no idea why I have to do it, just that I have to.

I don’t just stim before bed.  During the day, I find myself chewing on pencil caps, pulling apart paper clips, tapping my foot, organizing items on my desk into straight, perfect lines, all with little to no awareness I’m doing it.

You’ve probably figured out by now what “stimming” is if you didn’t already know.  Short for “self-stimulation,” it’s a type of repetitive movement we do, often to ease tension or anxiety.  Often, it’s subconsciously done.  I’ve discovered the term to be co-existent with neurological disorders such as autism, though it’s certainly not exclusive.  I’ve never been diagnosed with autism, but I certainly can appreciate, and practice, some of its attributes.

For my soon-to-be four year-old son who has high-functioning autism, his stimming is often a survival tactic.  If he can’t do it, he “explodes,” if you will.  I’ve watched him “stim” for years without realizing it had a name and a function.  With his recent diagnosis of ASD, I have been thrown into a world of jargon and acronyms, stimming among them.  Thankfully, with this new vocabulary, I am becoming better equipped to understand and help him.

I’ll never forget a recent visit to the park with my husband, our two young boys, sister-in-law, her husband, and their two young children.  We were on a nature trail with a long, winding wooden fence.  Naturally, Big C (my son with ASD) ran his hand along the railing.  While I knew the possibility of splinters was imminent, I also knew there was no chance of stopping him.  Big C needed to touch that railing.  He needed to run his hand along its splintery edge to better understand his surroundings.  As a sensory-seeking child, he needs to touch his surroundings, to smell them, even lick them (often to his mother’s chagrin) all in order to understand them.

My sister-in-law, a bit perplexed by my son’s behavior, asked why Big C was slowly running his hand along the railing, head down, humming to himself.

My husband merely replied,  “Oh, he’s just stimming.”

The twinkle of pride in my husband’s eye – true understanding and trust between father and son – was simply magical.

While it may have a stigma to it, stimming really isn’t so bad.  In fact, it can be quite therapeutic.

How do you “stim”?

Note: this post is part of a blog hop. Click the link below to read more about what it’s like to have a sensory-special kid!

SensoryBlogHop

“I do not like that hat. Good-bye!”

Autism: “self + -ism”  (from the Greek prefix, auto = self)

Autism is….complicated.

I’ve been learning a lot of new words since the advent of my son’s diagnosis of ASD.  One of them is scripting.  As a teacher of the arts, I immediately liked the sound of this new vocab term.  It sounds so theatrical!  Essentially, it’s often linked with the term echolalia, both of which refer to when someone repeats something (like an echo: makes sense).  The term scripting is more often used to reference the recitation of lines from movies and books, but it can be the repetition of any chunk of dialogue in the person’s memory.  A lot of us recite or ‘script’ favorite lines and quotes (my husband throws out obscure 90’s R and B lyrics with reckless abandon); the key difference is why people with autism script.   There’s no exact science (which is why autism is so complicated), but scripting can indicate feelings of extreme stress, excitement, or function as a cryptic means of communication.

Which brings us to our anecdote.

Two days ago, Big C (my three year-old with ASD) and I were having fun with Play-doh.  I was also using our “play time” as a teaching moment.  We were working on colors, turn-taking, and verbalizing what we were thinking (I say we, but it was mostly me).  At one point, he tired of sharing and asked me to work with my own Play-doh so he could do his own thing.

Fair enough.

Once I had made a little sculpture by myself, I asked Big C if he liked it.  He looked over and said, “I do not like that hat.  Good-bye!”

Fascinating.

To the innocent bystander, it would appear Big C completely misunderstood me.  But he didn’t.  He was scripting from a book by P.D. Eastman called Go, Dog, Go! that I read to him roughly six months ago.  In the book, a female dog repeatedly asks a male dog if he “likes her hat” and the male dog says, “I do not like that hat.  Good-bye!”

Big C totally understood me.  He just had an unusual way of showing it.

This moment was so important for me and Big C.  It was a solid reminder of why my son is hard for others to understand.  Yes, he does struggle with articulation, but more often, it’s not how he says things, but what he says.  He appears to be speaking out of context, but instead, he is making amazing connections between what he is ‘reading’ with what he is experiencing. He’s taking the reading concept of “talking to the text” to a whole new level.  When the time comes for Big C to write literary analyses and cite examples from the text, he is going to be a pro!

BUT, I recognize more clearly now why this is a social impairment for him.  Much as I’d like to, I cannot follow Big C around and translate for him, citing to others how clever he is with his literary quips.

What I CAN do though is teach him how to explain to others his seemingly obscure connections.

In response to my question, what if he said this instead: “Mom, I know what I should say.  Society says I should tell a white lie, that I like your sculpture.  Instead, I’d like to provide you with a literary anecdote from an antiquated children’s book you read to me that highlights the masochistic society of the 1950’s with the use of male and female dogs.  You see, the female dog keeps looking for the male dog’s approval by seeking a compliment about her hat.  He denies her several times as she continues to change her appearances for his benefit.  At the text’s end, he decides her hat is worthy and they ride off into the sunset.  While I don’t care for the gender biases of the text, I appreciate the display of brutal honesty.  That’s why I need to be brutally honest with you now.  I know you want me to say I like your sculpture, but I don’t.  Maybe you should try again.”

Of course, he could simply say, “Your question reminds me of a book we read once.”

That would certainly suffice.

Call it scripting.  Call it echolalia.  I call it pretty damn clever!

Beginner-brightearlybookx
By Jengod (talk) (Uploads) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39605122

Overdosing on Therapy (the real cost behind it)

 

It’s been just over a week now since we parted ways with our in-home ABA therapists.

I feel like I can breathe again.

I have my family back.  I didn’t realize just how toxic the situation had gotten until my husband said the other day, “Do you realize how much calmer you are now?  Big C and Little C too.  Everyone just seems…happy.”

He’s so right.

My little guys and I are sponges.  If one is stressed out, the rest are.  Now that the poorly implemented ABA therapy is gone (I have to say poorly implemented because I know there are some amazing ABA therapists out there), I feel normal again, or at least our family’s version of normal.

With a sense of normalcy came an epiphany last week: I need to stop trying to fix my kid.

He doesn’t need fixing.  He just needs my help.  Shame on you medical community for making me think otherwise.

He needs help learning to cope with his sensory overload.  He needs help learning how to express himself more clearly to others to avoid his own feelings of frustration. He needs help learning how to use his words rather than his fists when his emotions overtake him.

I don’t give a shit if he likes to line up his toys and his Cheerios.  I don’t give a shit if he likes to suck on turkey lunch meat to calm himself.  I don’t give a shit he has to run his hands along the surfaces of a new room.  I don’t give a shit he has to smell everything.  I don’t give a shit that he echoes back what people say.  I don’t give a shit he talks about subjects out of context.  I don’t give a shit that he expresses himself through leaping, jumping, and spinning.

I don’t give a shit that he doesn’t meet the doctors’ definition of “normal” or what I’ve come to know as “neuro-typical.”

I think that my son is awesome.  I think that my son’s quirks are adorable (most days).

Why do I need to try and eradicate that behavior?

Shame on you medical community, hell, shame on you society as a whole, for making me think I need to.

What I’ve come to realize is that two separate medical communities gave my son an unhealthy dosage of therapy recommendations.  The doctors that diagnosed Big C spent all of an hour with him, then doled out pages upon pages of therapy recommendations: 40 hours of intensive ABA therapy, social skills training, parent training, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, genetics testing, all sandwiched between paragraphs of text about our role as parents and what we should be doing.

As a parent new to this world of autism diagnosis, I was terrified.   These doctors, these professionals, made me feel like if I didn’t get my son access to all of these therapies immediately, I would be failing him as a parent.

And failing is something I do not do.

Where was the counseling, the medical guidance, through all of this?  After a diagnosis and a twenty-plus page report, we were sent on our way with a list of websites and books to check out.  That was it.

There was never any discussion of, “This therapy list is simply that.  A list.  A list of all the possible options you might pursue.  It’s a generic list we provide all children diagnosed with autism.  Your son is on the mild end of the spectrum, so some of this is a little extreme for him.”

Why wasn’t that said to me?  Did anyone ever consider the toll it would take on us as parents?  The emotional burden placed on my family because of a therapy overdose?  To me, it is the highest form of lethargy.   No one took the time to really talk to us.  They gave us their diagnosis, derived rather quickly, then sent us packing.

Shame on you, medical community.

But here’s the good news.

I’m over it.  I’m putting my trust in my own gut and inclination to research and study a subject until I am an expert in it.

So when the social worker finally calls me back from the first medical community we met with, I can happily tell her to piss off.

I just worry about the other parents, like me, who are going to be unnecessarily overwhelmed by a diagnosis that, let’s face it, is explained piss-poor by the professionals.  I’ve learned more from my new community of bloggers than I have from any doctor.

To those parents, remember you know your child best.  It may seem like obvious advice, but you start to doubt yourself when a doctor and a diagnosis tell you otherwise.


ep_jhu / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

 

 

Autism and Circle Time Success

 

Recently, my posts have had a dark-humored tone, giving my friends “expecting” bone-chilling nightmares.  Today’s post is a bit more upbeat and a blissful reminder that perseverance, intuitiveness, and a deep respect for a child’s emotions can earn you a fast-track ticket on the Mommy Success Express.

A little over a year ago, when Big C first attempted preschool-style classes, it was disastrous.  Music class led to tantrums and instruments used as weapons.  Attempts at soccer led to chases around the gymnasium with zero interest in the children around him, let alone the ball.  Gymnastics became a free-for-all with circle time treated as a detour through Hell.  He was kicked out of a daycare, more or less kicked out of a preschool, and at the advent of his new daycare in January after the nanny quit, circle time was still a looming obstacle to conquer.

Given this back story, you’ll better understand why today was such a turning point, not only for Big C, but for me as his mother.

For those of you following my blog know, Big C is receiving in-home ABA therapy.  To supplement that, I have been taking him to a social skills class as well as organizing and participating in a variety of play dates to get him practice socializing with other kids (that, and to get me out of the house because I crave adult interaction).

Today, I decided a trip to our local library story hour would be great practice for Big C, not only with socializing with other kids, but following directions by another adult.  I was apprehensive, especially since the preparations to get him out the door were a little rough this morning, but I was meeting with friends and knew the snippets of conversation I could snag from them would recharge me for the day.  Plus, there was a part of me almost morbidly curious to see if Big C could even do it.  There was also another part of me that was terrified as I would also have my 15-month old son (Little C) in tow.  Two against one is never good odds, but I have great friends who I knew would help at any sign of disaster.

We arrived a little early, which is both a blessing and curse.   Yes, it’s impressive not to miss the festivities (those with kids know how hard it is to get them out the door), but arriving early also means unstructured “down” time which always freaks me out because it freaks Big C out.

But it was okay.  In fact, it was just fine.   Big C greeted one of my friend’s children with a smile, most definitely invading his personal space, even patting him on the head, but being “overly friendly” with a greeting is at the bottom of my list of social skills to work on with Big C.  I’m just pleased Big C acknowledged him at all and didn’t growl at him (as he may have in his younger days).

Once the story hour got rolling, Big C enjoyed singing the “Welcome” song while Little C clapped at the end, all smiles.  Big C was the first to raise his hand and share an idea about what to feed the dog puppet the librarian had: “Dog food!” Duh.  Whenever Big C got remotely off track, I whipped out my “to-go” set of visual cards to remind him when to “sit” and be “quiet.”

Then, about twenty minutes in, he said, “I’m tired.  I want to go home.”

I said, “Are you sure?”  He said, “Yes, I’m very tired.  I want to go home.”  I said, “Okay, thank you for using your words to tell me how you feel.  Let’s go home.”

And we did.  And that was it.  That was it.  

Anti-climatic?  Sorry.  I couldn’t be more happy about that.  For me, this was a moment of triumph.

For some parents, they may think I gave in by leaving; others might scoff that a near four-year old couldn’t last the entire hour. Frankly, I don’t care.  In my mind, he had the wherewithal to recognize he was tired, and the trust that he could tell me, knowing I would respect his feelings.

Wow.  Feels good to be riding that train today.

Taking a ride on the Mommy Success Express.
Taking a ride on the Mommy Success Express.