Friday, October 22, 2010

She is Two

Two years ago today, I was in the hospital having a wee little person removed from my uterus:

And these days, the paparazzi can catch her eating junk food and givin' folks the stink eye:

O Celia my love, how my adoration for you grows with each passing day. Now I must tear myself away from my computer and hie myself yonder to Ye Olde DayeCare, where lo! I shall distribute popsicles to many small people before taking thee out for pizza, which ye shall not eat. Many happy returns of the day.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Breaking Free

Taking a break for the moment from the “all Ceeya, all the time” tone that this blog has recently adopted to get us all caught up on that other child of mine, Viva.

Viva is in second grade. She has moved seamlessly from the private school where she spent most of her weekdays between the ages of 2.5 and 7 to the public school right down the street from us. If you were me, you might have expected more drama. You might have agonized a bit over how she would do in this new school, this new environment, this new sphere. Would she make friends? Would the teacher like her? What if this were a complete disaster?

Honestly. I worried about the class size. She was moving from a school where there were 12 kids in all of first grade. I worried about the quality of the education. She is extremely bright, gets bored easily, and is used to getting one-on-one attention from the teacher. I worried that she would have trouble dealing with “regular” kids (whatever that means). You know, I just worried, because that is my nature and I am her mother and I want her to be happy and have a great school experience.

So: class size? She’s in a gifted/talented magnet so there are 16 kids in her class, not the 35+ I was having hissy fits imagining. Quality of the education? Because she is in the magnet program, she is surrounded by other kids who are quick and curious and as eager to learn as she is. Their teacher, who is happily back in the classroom after three years in administration, says, “These kids came in like it was March, not September. They were ready to go, and I love it!” She is getting to know each of the kids and tailoring different projects to their interests. She is as thrilled as I am with the small class size and getting to spend so much time with each kid.

Viva loves her teacher, her class, and her after-school program. So school is going way more amazingly well than I could have hoped. Since there is no drama in that, let us move on. Viva has also, over the past few months, undergone a radical transformation.

Perhaps you know that Viva is a tomboy. She is a tomboy to the extent that most of her friends up to this summer were boys. Had you asked me to describe her up to now, I would have said something along the lines of: she plays sports with a fierce competitiveness; she has a true disdain for fairies and princesses, dresses, and anything sparkly; she abhors pink. She likes to play with superhero action figures, and when she comes home from school, she strips off her uniform and pulls on a pair of boy’s basketball shorts. She may or may not wear a shirt. If she does, it will be a boy’s undershirt or an oversized T-shirt.

Over the summer, at camp, Viva had a gradual awakening, thanks to a group of knuckleheaded little boys at her camp. “Boys are stupid,” she told me. “And you know, I don’t think I want to be a tomboy anymore.”

I was blown away. I said, “Maybe some boys are stupid.* Some girls can be stupid, too. But don’t let the behavior of some silly kids make you change who you are. If you want to try being a little more girly, that is fine with me. It’s fine to try on different ways of being as you figure out who you are. I love you if you’re a tomboy, and I love you if you’re not.”

When we began back-to-school shopping, she indicated that maybe she’d be interested in trying on a dress. I ended up buying her several knit cotton dresses and leggings, along with pants and nice shirts. She also wanted sparkly low-top sneakers that lit up when she walked. Do you know that every day for the first week of school, my “tomboy” wore a dress and sparkly shoes?

Children are amazing. Viva is never boring. I love that I am here to buckle up next to her and marvel at her journey. And that still, so often, she is still badgering me to come along. The years move quickly, you know. Sometimes I miss her even though she is still here.

* The fact that she even uses the word stupid is incredible, since just a couple of years ago the word stupid was equivalent (to her) to using a “bad word.” My, how times have changed. How lazy I have become in my language policing.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Food for Thought (2 of 2)

So here is the thing with Ceeya, as we call her. There are all these neat little boxes that “specialists” want to put her in. She has dyspraxia and neuromotor incoordination. She is oral defensive. She is a resistant eater. She needs helps with her oral-motor skills. She is tactile defensive. She needs help with her fine motor skills. I could go on.

I could. I could make myself crazy looking up stuff online (okay, so yes, done that) and reading books and articles until my eyes bleed (almost), and worst of all, feeling unable to share much of what we’re going through because (a) some people really don’t believe in all this mumbo jumbo and say, “there’s nothing wrong with her, she’s just sensitive…she’ll eat when she gets hungry…you’re spoiling her.” (No, it’s true, some people say some bullshit like that. It’s astoundingly helpful, just as much as you might imagine.) Or (b) some people will really want to get all in your business and ask all kinds of questions, most of which are not really all that helpful, under the guise of being helpful. “Have you tried X?” they ask. “I heard that helps with autistic kids, my friend’s niece had a baby who had that.” As I prevent my head from exploding into smithereens via the sheer force of my will, I explain that Ceeya is not autistic. And as much as you are trying to help me, I am relying on paid professionals who, you know, have some kind of training in this area? To help come up with some kind of treatment? So as I do not run screaming off into the night?

I also steadfastly refuse to share this with my mother because inevitably she will latch onto Ceeya’s diagnosis and conclude that she has suffered from the selfsame thing for lo these 60-some-odd years, and that every bad thing that has ever happened to her can be traced back to it forever and ever amen and that it is too upsetting for her to deal with because it makes her think of bad things that happened 50 years ago and how things could have been different if only, so we should never speak of it again but recognize that she is suffering silently henceforth. Let it be stated for the record that I love my mother dearly, but: she has been known to try my patience.

I am tired. I have been dutifully taking Ceeya to occupational therapy once a week, which I now have to submit claims to my insurance company for and struggle to get reimbursed for. It is a dance that I never wanted to learn. We have been doing all kinds of activities with her—exercises to strengthen her grip, a vibrating toothbrush to desensitize her to oral stimulation, putting at least one unfamiliar food in front of her at meals and leaving it there even as she screams in horror. We play blocks with her, build Legos with her for fine motor coordination, bounce her gently on the bed to help with the vestibular issues. I know it will take time. It will take time.

Tonight around the Blah Blah Family table, we were building taco-burritos for dinner. Ceeya watched as we each spooned ground beef, and then rice with tomatoes, and then lettuce and cheese on our tortillas and rolled them up. She asked for rice, and lettuce. She carefully, methodically, spooned them out of the bowl and plonked them next to her shredded cheese. She didn’t eat them. She arranged them on her tray, and then asked for more.

This is nothing. At the same time: this is huge. She is playing with unfamiliar food. She is not eating it, but she has decided that it is not scary. It has a place on her tray, where the rest of her food goes.

It will take time. Lord, I am tired. But tonight, this one small thing made me happy.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Food for Thought (1 of 2)

I have been doing a lot of work with Ceeya’s occupational therapist on her oral motor skills to try and find ways to help her learn to eat better. Aside from a lot of oral motor exercises (try and get her to eat applesauce through a straw, see if she can blow a cotton ball across a table faster than her sister, etc.) I’ve been doing a lot of online reading.

Just found two blogs about kids and food that I’ve added to my reader and I’m putting them out here for you to peruse and enjoy:

(1) Spoonfed
(2) Raise Healthy Eaters

More to come, but wanted you to know I haven’t run off screaming into the night. (Well, not permanently.)