Growing Up

February 5th, 2013

Being a parent means that when one of your kids is sick, they will find a way to get their snot DIRECTLY INTO YOUR MOUTH. How does this work? Why? You wouldn’t think such a thing would be possible, and yet, cold after cold, here we are. A nose wipe, a too-moist kiss, SOMETHING. SOMETHING. Somehow, they will find a way to smear whatever it is they have INTO YOUR MOUTH, guaranteeing that you follow suit. The only way to avoid this seems to be to not touch your children at all, and THAT is a bleak prospect, so no.

Sigh.

I’ve been thinking about parenting a lot lately, which is something I’ve only recently been insecure about, and I expect that’s pretty common as your kids get older. Babyhood and even toddlerhood is relatively simple — keep them alive, do your best to prevent outright assholery, while also recognizing that trying to control them is akin to corralling a tiger kitten and just hope you make it through the day without getting bitten or pooped on. It’s so obvious in retrospect how little kids under two can really comprehend and/or control and even from age two to three, things are pretty damned dicey in terms of how much their behavior is a reflection of what you tell them to do. Sure, they model what you DO, but consequences and discipline are iffy concepts for them to grasp.

Three to four, however, shit gets real, and I think what terrifies me is that things just get more and MORE real from here on out. We’re at a stage in her life where she will have memories of some of this stuff moving forward — fuzzy memories, but memories nonetheless. She will remember what I do, how I treated her, things we did and how I handled certain things and it’s just paralyzing sometimes, really it is, because this is one job I can’t screw up and say hey! That was a nice learning experience, and now onto the REAL stuff!

Kids aren’t pancakes. I don’t get to throw the first one away and then make sure the second one comes out right, you know? Augh, you know.

Sam is a challenging kid, and she just doesn’t DO a lot of the things that other kids do, because of who she is — sensory processing disorder and a spirited personality make her a little more sensitive and a little harder to manage than other children. I really don’t see a lot of kids like her out there, unless you count the interwebs (that’s a great post, btw, and one I could have written about Sam). So my parenting challenges aren’t exactly the same as everyone else’s, because, as Jen eloquently writes, I’ve already fought more battles by noon than a lot of people fight with their kids in a day. Hell, we were in Fuddrucker’s recently, and things were going just fine until I looked down and found Sam sobbing into my lap. What the hell happened?

“SOMEONE SAID HI TO ME!” she sobbed and sobbed. And it sounds ridiculous, and on some level it is, but for Sam, it’s a hard thing to handle because it wasn’t something she expected. Again, I realize the absurdity of such a statement, and how it seems like a simple disciplinary and/or redirect situation, but you’re going to have to have some faith in me here when I tell you that it isn’t. And it’s a thing that’s really hard to write about, or even talk about, or even BE, because I never, not for one second, want to give the impression that I am resentful of Sam, that I blame her, that I don’t think she’s an awesome kid. She’s just a little bit different to parent, that’s all, and in a slightly more taxing way. But she is, oh my God, an incredible person that I am so proud to know, much less parent, and that’s the absolute truth.

But oh, I am so insecure about it, even though I know better. I KNOW I work hard with her and I KNOW that she is who she is and it’s not something I did or did not do to make her this way, but when I talk to other parents or read posts about kids who are younger than Sam who can do certain things or behave a certain way that she just cannot, I feel like such a blasted FAILURE sometimes. And people cannot help but give advice about what THEY did that worked, and how I should try the same! Occasionally, people in my family will remind me that I really need to work with her on these things, as if it’s not something I think about every minute. And I KNOW they don’t mean it in a bad or judgmental way, but my hackles get raised, because it is so, so frustrating, if I’m being honest, to have so little control over another person, which seems like an obvious statement, but HEY that is what people expect you to do! CONTROL ANOTHER PERSON.

That’s hard, especially when that person has challenges that make their behavior slightly illogical, and I mean beyond typical child illogical behavior, OF WHICH THERE IS PLENTY, I KNOW.

Last weekend, we went to Yo Gabba Gabba Live! (featuring my boyfriend, DJ Lance Rock), and she did so well, you guys. She did SO WELL. She had a couple of meltdowns, wore her headphones for a fair amount, and I did have to use M&Ms as a bribe a few times and sure, she kept her coat on FOR THE LONGEST TIME, but she did it. She made it through that whole show and she enjoyed it and she still talks about it, and I didn’t have to take her outside, NOT ONCE. And have you ever SEEN Yo Gabba Gabba Live!? It’s SENSORY OVERLOAD. There are lights and booming bass and Jesus, half the characters look like life-size sex toys and out of NOWHERE a giant carrot will start dancing with a strobe light. I mean, that shit is SERIOUS.

And she did it! She DID it. And I cry just thinking about it, because it shouldn’t be a big deal for a kid to go to a live performance of her all-time favorite show, but for Sam it sure is.

God, you guys, I was just so stinking proud of her. I still am when she talks about it and plays a silly song and asks, “Did they sing THIS at the Yo Gabba Gabba concert? I DID NOT THINK SO, MOMMY. But they DID play THIS!” And on cue, she’ll bust out with “Party in My Tummy” from iTunes, like a miniature DJ specializing in children’s music.

The truth too is that there are good things that come out of her being so sensitive — she is remarkably empathetic to other people. She understands consequences when there are feelings involved — I’m consistently amazed at her ability to understand somewhat complex human interactions and how people might FEEL in certain situations, and how things she does might be hurtful. Oh, sure, sometimes she rebels just because she’s almost four, but for the most part, she gets it, which is something I do NOT see in a lot of kids her age, at least to the level Sam is at. Fear of kid being a sociopath? CHECKED OFF, SUCKAHS.

One of my irrational, totally bizarre fears is that Allie won’t be as kind to Sam as Sam is to Allie and then, oh my god, I don’t even know how I’ll deal. At almost eight months old, Allie is already more at ease with the world than Sam is at almost four YEARS old, and I pray that Allie has the love, patience and understanding required of being with her sister. Sam lights up Allie’s world, for sure, but Sam is so in love with her sister that I can’t even put it into words. She doesn’t want to go ANYWHERE without Allie, and I’m amazed I get her to go to school without her. She’s chomping at the bit for Allie to wake up in the morning and from naps, and sometimes I can’t even convince her to wait until Allie wakes up on her own — I’ll hear a door creak open and BOOM! Sam’s whispering over the baby’s sleeping form, “Hi little girl! I MISSED YOUUUU!” And she really did.

I love her so much you guys, I can’t even begin to quantify it. And I just . . . I don’t want to mess it up.

 

*Peter Gabriel

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54 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Julie  |  February 5th, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    My goodness, what a beautiful portrait of a sweet little girl and her fiercely protective mother.

    And I get it, really. Because my Sam, who is 8 and a boy, has a number of issues that aren’t so easy to quantify or diagnose and I do have to parent him differently than most kids. I never thought of putting it that simply, but it’s completely accurate. As is the feeling of failure when noticing the abilities of similarly-aged kids. Man, I totally get that. Sam is clearly not a typical 8 year old boy, and sometimes that makes me feel like I’ve fallen down on the job, and it shouldn’t. He’s just his own 8 year old boy who beats to his own drum. I need to remember that more often.

    Sam is a lucky girl to have you as a mom. And, of course, you’re lucky to have her. You make a great team.

  • 2. Elizabeth  |  February 5th, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    To me this is the greatest part of having a second child who is so different, realizing that Eli is…much harder than some kids, and it’s not something I did and it’s not a way I made him, it’s just how he came out. It’s just more work being Eli, and so it’s more work to parent him, and I just…didn’t know that this wasn’t how it just WAS for all parents and all kids until I had Katie. It feels so great to realize that no, I am not the worst mom in the world for thinking that he is hard to parent, he IS hard to parent. It’s not me! It just is! It feels like a deep breath out. I think I almost love him….not more, but somehow…extra or something because of what a hard time he has, but thank jesus gay for the easy second child and the “it’s not you, really” get out of jail card she brought with her.

  • 3. Sarah  |  February 5th, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    Oh my gosh, I want to write a post like this about my oldest son about once a week. That he is so NEAT and I LOVE him so much, hell I LIKE him so much, but that sometimes I wonder if either I am just terrible at parenting him, or he really is that much more challenging than an average kid. Because by the end of every day I have usually had to settle him down at least three or four times, and not from the whiny, naggy diatribes my daughter can unleash but from full on screaming and sobbing on the floor. Every day, he’s either wounded or furious or disappointed about something, and he just can’t handle it. He’s five. And this is an IMPROVEMENT from how it used to be. At least now his fits can be over in five or ten minutes- it used to be a half hour or so, every time.
    Yet he does well at school, overall, and no one besides my husband and me seems overly concerned about his behavior. My fear is that in teaching him to control his feelings and outbursts we’re somehow going to mess him up. It’s all so confusing and hard, every day. I want to help him manage his emotions, but I don’t want to… MANAGE him, you know? And I don’t want to get mad at him when most of the time I feel like he honestly can’t help it, but sometimes I just cannot deal anymore, and I get mad and I yell back and it just sucks.
    Anyways, sorry to dump on you there. Just nice to hear from others who have challenging but so very beloved children, and who are also trying so so hard to meet their child’s needs and always wondering if they’re messing it up.

  • 4. jonniker  |  February 5th, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    Oh ELIZABETH, yes. I think I said this to someone offline once — that I always thought the easier child would be easier to love, but no. I mean, I love her, certainly, but yes, there is a little something extra for Sam that I can’t explain simply BECAUSE her life is more of a challenge than it is for most people.

  • 5. Elsha  |  February 5th, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    This is so beautiful. We’re (obviously) not that far into parenting Daniel, but already I see how it’s going to be such a different experience than parenting our other kids. Our situation isn’t necessarily harder, but different. And as much as I know to expect the delays it still breaks my heart a little to watch kids who are his age and younger stand up and cruise or sit and play happily when Daniel can’t even crawl on his hands and knees or sit for more than a few seconds. And then *I* feel like a failure, like I should do more therapy with him every day or something. Even though logically I know he can only progress so fast and he’s doing great! (I really try not to think about this too much.)

    But having his siblings be older I get to see just how much they love him and it makes my day. (As I’m sure seeing Sam love Allie does for you.) And I’m sure Allie will be a better person for having Sam as a sister.

  • 6. Sarah  |  February 5th, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    Just reread the post, it was that good, and wanted to add that YES, it is infuriating how as parents we are literally expected to control another human being. A mainly irrational, impulse-driven human being. Or in a lot of our cases, SEVERAL human beings, often simultaneously. It’s like, good Lord people, I’m doing my best to teach my kids how to be civilized and polite and all, but cut me some slack here. I am responsible for this child’s care, yes, but am I actually responsible for his BEHAVIOR? That seems a bit unreasonable, but the way some people look at you I think they really feel like I just don’t CARE that my kids are being loud or that I’m not trying hard enough or something.

  • 7. Sam  |  February 5th, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    Oh my holy Moses, I love this. First of all, hooray for your Sam, who is awesome. I am so thrilled that she loved Yo Gabba Gabba live… I so love your perspective on parenting her, on accepting and loving her.

    I really get it. I know that horrible feeling, like other kids just have it so easy! They’re so dadgum typical. LOOK AT ALL THE THINGS THEY SAY! I am constantly blown away by how much other kids talk, how early, and I realize – man. We had no idea. And I can’t say that I don’t constantly second guess myself, blame myself, wonder what I did wrong. (Seriously, if you ever need a shoulder to cry on, toliet training wise…)

    And then he just does so great, like your Sam. And I think, he’s awesome. And honestly, I realize how great we do have it. (And even if it doesn’t FEEL great, we are surrounded by other families who I know have it so much harder.) Sure, he has his issues but he’s the best kid. He cracks us up, he’s sweet and kind, he’s seriously smart. He’s just Thomas, and we love him. I am grateful for every step of progress. I realize the paths that other people are on, and maybe we’re not on those paths. It’s okay. But lately I just keep thinking how parenting is so hard, so heartbreaking, such a crap shoot. But in a wonderful, crazy sort of way.

  • 8. Maggie  |  February 5th, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    Beautiful. Thank you for sharing. The Internet needs more posts like this, me thinks.

  • 9. Rebecca  |  February 6th, 2013 at 1:43 am

    That is so, so amazing, that she was able to enjoy something that may have been a trigger. I think it is terribly easy for parents of only-typical kids to take something like that for granted; however, it is indescribable to see your sensitive kid do something as simple as enjoy a concert. Violet is sensitive and anxious…she had an hour-long panic attack recently over a loose tooth (and no, it was not her first one. It was the fourth one she lost.) She wore headphones in public for years. And I now refuse to buy any clothes she hasn’t tried on because any tiny ,minor irritation will relegate it to the unworn pile. But the little victories…when she answers the cashier, or watches a parade without a breakdown, or hugs her grandmother without a bribe…oh, my god. The euphoria is better than sex, chocolate, AND Molson. So brag on, dear girl. You are awesome.

  • 10. Jess  |  February 6th, 2013 at 6:46 am

    Oh, Jonna. I could have said so many of these same things about my daughter. She is sensitive (emotionally, not in the sensory dept) and can shut down or break down at things that aren’t a big deal to the rest of us. And god, like you said, I just don’t want to mess it up.
    Sam sounds like an amazing person and she is so lucky to have you as her momma.

  • 11. jen  |  February 6th, 2013 at 8:34 am

    Oh wow. Mine is super sensitive and yet aggressive when he’s upset. That’s a fun combination, let me tell you. We were in Chipotle one time and he kept freaking out because these other children were looking at him. He wouldn’t eat and he kept staring at them so naturally they looked back at him, which upset him even more. We finally left, with him having eaten nothing and for about a month after that he wouldn’t go in Chipotle because what if those kids were there and they stared at him again. Never mind that it was an entirely different Chipotle and those kids were not mean toward him in the least. I will say this though…it is slowly, slowly getting easier. Whether that’s because we learned how to deal or if he’s learning finally how to control his anger, I’m not sure, maybe both but from 2 – 4.5 has been truly, truly difficult and I’ve been so afraid I’m screwing it all up. I feel you on the sensitive thing.

  • 12. melaniek  |  February 6th, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Beautiful post about Sam, as an adult who hates crowds and gets anxious in them (so avoids things like concerts like the plague) I can appreciate that is a big win.

    I often admit to my family that while I loved my children from the moment they were born, that love certainly grew over time as their personalities start emerging. My second child was my more difficult baby, not her fault–horrible reflux and horrible people commenting on the hemangioma on her forehead (to be clear commenting is fine, questioning was fine, telling me what a shame it was becuase she would have been cute or accusing me of abuse… NOT FINE) I was a wreck, if I could just go back 4 1/2 years ago, pat my head and say it turns out FINE, her preschool friends didn’t give a rats ass about her disappearing hemangioma, she did EVENTUALLY sleep thru the night and dispite all those fears she had a learning disability (didn’t seem to know letters, colors, shapes at same age as her brother), we now realize much of that was whether or not she wanted to talk about letters, colors and shapes and if you were sneaky and peppered questions throughout the day, you would find out just how much she knows. I have always thought that most parents do not get thru parenting unscathed, nearly everyone has a story to tell and its so amazing how siblings can be raised in the same environment and turn out so very different.

  • 13. april  |  February 6th, 2013 at 9:04 am

    This is so beautiful, and I kept it open on my desk at work for hours so I could comment properly and THINK about my comment. I have two medium-difficulty children, I think. (that comment that you made about always thinking it would be easier to love the easier child was to me on twitter last month or so,). While neither are what you would call “challenging” or “spirited” or has huge sensory issues, but they both have definitely had their challenges.

    Spencer has mostly grown out of it, but he had major issues with sound when he was younger. If something is too loud and not a sound he wants (like he’s okay with his Phineas and Ferb cd, crank that shit up!) he will hold his hands over his ears and scream to drown it out. And he can’t deal with the doctor checking his ears or mouth at well-baby visits and has kicked his doctor in the balls on two separate occasions. We skipped the hearing test at 4 years and I’m dreading it now at 5 years – I’m hoping that since there won’t be any shots, we can deal with the one thing.

    Henry is painfully shy, even to the point of not acknowledging his grandparents who he sees once a week if we see them in a different setting then he’s use to. He hates crowds and is scared of all animals and clings like he’s attached with glue to the back of my pant leg if we go anywhere that people would be acknowledging him. He’s okay with the mall because he’s mostly ignored, but he hates parties and gatherings, even with family. Even with one other person.

    I think what I’m saying by acknowledging these things in this book I’m apparently writing is that I think we are given the children we are meant to have, and only a parent can understand fully their own child and what it takes to help that child succeed in the world. Sam is YOUR child. She is a beautiful, amazing little girl and she’s YOURS. No one else can tell you how to raise her, and while people will always have suggestions, it’s your gut and your knowledge of your own daughter that really matters.

    I attended a baby shower on Saturday (with both the boys, where Henry was attached to me for an hour before I was able to throw him out back with his brother and nobody else). There was a “pearls of wisdom” jar where other parents put their “advice” to the new parents, and this is what I submitted:

    1) Don’t be afraid to take a time-out for you
    2) Listen to other people’s advice, but in the end it’s your kid. Listen to your gut.

  • 14. Erica  |  February 6th, 2013 at 9:13 am

    I’ve been kicking around a post in my head about parenting my Sam that’s much like this one, but I couldn’t bring myself to write it.

    Sam is so hard for me to parent. He has many of the same issues that your Sam has and I’m just not good with them. I get so frustrated and feel so hopeless and feel like a terrible mother because I CAN’T JUST FIX HIM. As if he were broken and not exactly who he’s supposed to be. As if I’m supposed to break him and reform him into someone who fits into the world easier. As if I shouldn’t be helping him learn how to make the world fit easier around him.

    I finally gathered the courage to talk to my pediatrician about it. She confirmed that while Sam does have some characteristics of Autism, she’s adamant that he doesn’t have it. She did give me a referral to a pediatric psychiatrist to have him evaluated so that I can get some help in learning what I can do to differently as a parent to not get so upset.

    Anyhow, all this is to say that you’re not alone. There are lots of us who don’t know what the fuck we’re doing and are making it up as we go along.

  • 15. H  |  February 6th, 2013 at 9:16 am

    I love how you love and appreciate Sam. Of course, no one is perfect so you’ll make a mistake every now and then. It is so important that you accept that as well. You won’t fail Sam because you recognize “how” she is, you appreciate that every child has different needs, you’re doing the best you can for her and you love her unconditionally. Any child would be lucky to have a mom like you.

  • 16. Lori  |  February 6th, 2013 at 9:45 am

    My husband and I aren’t young parents, but we had kids much earlier than all of our siblings and friends. My oldest two are nearly 8 and 6. Everyone with a new baby invariably asks me if it gets easier as they get older. I always smile and nod, then I make a joke about not having to deal with diapers and getting a lot more sleep. Truth be told, I’m lying. Explaining to an 8-year-old why he has to have a lock down drill at school, or why he sometimes needs to let other kids win at kickball makes me long for dirty diapers. Trying to explain to the 6-year-old why she is just as pretty without her play make-up as she is with it, or why some people don’t believe in God makes me wish all I had to deal with was sleep deprivation. Luckily, my husband and I decided to have a 3rd baby, so our 9-month-old lets us experience those things, too.

    I think as long as we’re doing our best about 60% of the time, then we’re doing well.

  • 17. Jenna  |  February 6th, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Reading about Sam (and the comments here) is such a relief for me, I can’t tell you. My older daughter shares a lot of similarities with Sam and I struggle every day to feel confident in parenting her. Other parents are shocked that we don’t use time-outs with her when she is having a sensory melt-down. It’s taken a long time but we finally learned that these are melt downs that she cannot really control. If we put her alone in her room, she escalates and completely comes unglued. So we sit with her and hold her and help her get it out and then later, when she’s calm, we review her coping strategies and try to figure out how to prevent the next one. People have told us or intimated that we are indulging her and we’ve made her this way. HOOO BOY. Nothing makes me crazier than being told that. She is who she is and we are trying desperately to help her be the best her she can be. What else is there to do but to respond to who she is and what she needs?

  • 18. shin ae  |  February 6th, 2013 at 10:11 am

    This reminds me so much of my boys. My first was a screamer, like Sam was when she was a baby. Second seemed so easy by comparison, but as he got older I realized he, too, is very sensitive. He just has a different personality, is all. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that you may find that as Allie gets bigger, she loves Sam and balances her in a way no one else could.

    My boys are both very sensitive and WHOA, they did not do the things the other kids could do at Sam’s age and younger. For instance, we tried to take them to the movies once a few years ago (they’re 9 and 11 now). They were both begging to leave by the end of the first preview, and one was sobbing in horror (the preview was of Antz). As they’ve gotten older, they have become these communicative, YES–empathetic, kind people. I love spending time with them. They are my very favorite companions, with the exception of my husband. Sure, I reach a limit, like any mom. You know how it is. But STILL.

    Anyway, I just wanted to encourage you to keep doing what you’re doing. Sensitive kids are wonderful.

  • 19. Katie  |  February 6th, 2013 at 10:16 am

    A lovely post about a lovely little girl. Like you, my first is sensitive emotionally and to sensory stuff. My second is happy go-lucky to the max. I have seen older one (4) watch my younger one (21 months) for social cues sometimes. It is actually pretty cool.

    And I agree that having the easy one second made me realize how different it is to parent a sensitive child! And how rewarding too. I am floored by her observations about the world. She sees EVERYTHING. Every detail, every emotion crossing a person’s face, everything. And it is exhausting for her little brain now, but will serve her so well in the future and I know with certainty what a beautiful person she will become.

    Like others have said, Sam is so lucky to have you as her mom. Someone who meets her exactly where she is and doesn’t expect her to be someone she is not and sees the beauty in her unique self.

  • 20. Ang  |  February 6th, 2013 at 11:13 am

    What a great post! My oldest (11) is my sensitive one as well – particularly to movies/tv etc. – we only took her to her first movie about a year and a half ago! She also has a really detailed memory (maybe photographic, I’m not sure) so anything she does experience emphatically or overwhelmingly stays with her a looong time.
    I think our job as parents is to help them realize this is just how they are – it’s not wrong to want to watch a room of kids playing before joining in, it’s not wrong to say no to a movie “date” that will give them nightmares, it’s not wrong to tell your teacher you probably shouldn’t watch the video in class probably for the same reason (the Tell-Tale Heart to 11 year olds – wtf).
    I have some sensitivity as well (noise makes me crazy, especially when I’m tired or at the end of the day – and food textures freak me out) so I am coming from a point of view that really understands how it is for the world to be overwhelming at times.

  • 21. Karen  |  February 6th, 2013 at 11:14 am

    I think parenting is a lot like that saying about a duck swimming, where it’s all calm on the surface, but there’s all kinds of hard work going on below the surface. Except parenting a child with a need that goes beyond typical makes that duck more like a duck/octopus/medusa hybrid, where the tentacles are going in a million different directions below the surface and the snakes are all of your thinking and decision making , and they’re hidden under a pretty hat. And so if you’re having a good day, all anyone sees is your smiling face, but behind the scenes it’s turbo-charged CHAOS as you work just to let your kid have a happy day where s/he feels like she fits in.

    But if you’d been there the day I was in a restaurant with my then-three-year-old, as he spent the entire meal with his head turned 90 degrees to the left because someone to the right had looked at him, you’d realize you’re SO not alone in this. Or if you’d noticed me bolt out of Dunkin’ Donuts because the smell of a cooking egg sent my kid into gagging fits that would not have ended well had we stayed, you’d see it. And if you’d witnessed my meltdown at a playgroup after I asked another child to stop singing Happy Birthday directly at my kid while he covered his ears because he couldn’t take it, and then the mom asked me not to reprimand her child, and then years of worry about my “mom friends” and their kids not liking us because my guy just couldn’t take the “normal” things that little kids do reached a head, and *I* was reduced to a puddle of tears… Well, you get the idea.

    It’s so difficult to notice these things with other parents and kids because we’re masters at hiding the flurry of activity that helps our kids feel normal and comfortable and happy. But know that you’re not alone in this. Not one little bit. And Sam is so lucky to have you.

  • 22. Susie  |  February 6th, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    It’s funny, Eliza is one of the easiest babies I’ve ever even heard of, with Allie being the notable exception, but both Kevin and I have sensory issues. Not big ones, they are just quirks, but reading this, I wonder what it was like when we were babies. I cannot – CANNOT – abide loud or strident noises. I remember cussing out a vacuum cleaner at preschool. I still hate HATE vacuums. And blenders. And concerts. And that fax machine noise? And oh god, so many things. And Kevin, he has major texture issues. No corduroy in this house, no ma’am. He literally won’t touch me or the baby if we are dressed in certain fabrics. He won’t eat certain things.

    These are things we tease each other about now, but it just makes me wonder how they manifested when we were toddlers. And if our moms caught crap from other people for our behavior, and really it all boils down to wanting to go hug my mom, AGAIN, for raising me. That’s what having a kid has done for me, so far – it’s made appreciate my parents SO MUCH.

  • 23. Elita  |  February 6th, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Aaaww, Sam sounds like an awesome kid!

  • 24. K  |  February 6th, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Your comment to Elizabeth about how “there is a little something extra for Sam that I can’t explain simply BECAUSE her life is more of a challenge than it is for most people.” is exactly how T and I feel about Iris.

    There is no way I could honestly say that I love Iris more than Ezra, but there are parts of our hearts that are more tender towards her because of things she had and continues to have zero control over. And yet despite this lack of control, she, and Sam; persevere and the result are wonderful people that I am in awe of almost daily.

  • 25. HereWeGoAJen  |  February 6th, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Elizabeth sobbed yesterday because someone looked at her shirt. Looked. At. Her. Shirt.

    Solidarity, woman.

  • 26. Cathy  |  February 6th, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    So here’s what I’m finding one of the _next_ hard phases: at a certain point (my older daughter’s 5 and a half now and my sense is this is only just beginning), I had to deal with things that are hard about my kid that aren’t just vulnerabilities or challenges she faces but actually, just, not-nice things she chooses to do or say. And I really miss the days when, essentially, she did no wrong — at least, no deliberate wrong — in my eyes. I love my child so much, but I don’t _like_ her as continually and unconditionally as I once did. And here I want to stop and say stuff about how awesome/compassionate/interesting/thoughtful she is, just to make clear that I mostly really, really like my kid. But not always. And bad as it feels, I think this is actually a necessary and important next phase in my parenting, as she becomes more and more of an _actor_ in the world, and a human being who isn’t me or mine to control — and loving taht sort of being is different. Harder, more complicated, but also deeper, I’m hoping.

    Anyway, I find myself thinking about this stuff as I haul my screaming toddler (also a second kid, also much more naturally at home in the world) up the stairs and realize that I don’t feel any anger — I mean, I wish she weren’t screaming, but it’s not something for which I hold her responsible in any real way. And that, I’m realizing, is a brief and luxurious phase in parenting.

  • 27. Kate  |  February 6th, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    Yes yes yes.
    I have to say that, though I never would have predicted it, having a child in an emotionally challenging phase (see the positive thinking!) has actually helped me to be a better person.
    Not that I didn’t try the whole impatient-yelling-door-slamming thing. I did.
    But lately I’ve been so good at being right in the moment, riding the wave, and coming out on the other side.
    I have to believe that that will make a huge difference to him. And, also, it’s so different from my own experience, that I feel like he’s on a better track.
    I don’t mean to be braggy–it’s just that I’m so surprised that I’ve actually improved in the face of adversity.
    xoxoxo to you and Sam.

  • 28. g~  |  February 6th, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    I was staying at home with my children when they were very young–3 and 1, trying to do all of the right parenting things including teaching my older child his colors. He COULD NOT get it. Kept “forgetting” and getting it right half of the time, etc. My (very well intentioned) SIL said of teaching my nephew, who is almost a year younger than my son, “Well, I just used MnMs and he picked it RIGHT UP. Maybe you should try that!” and kept giving me helpful hints of how she was (obviously) doing it better (totally well-intentioned but difficult to swallow at the time). Of course, it wasn’t until he was older that we found out he is color blind. It was so freaking liberating! It WASN’T my deficiency as a parent. He was physically UNABLE to distinguish colors! Same kid has Sensory Processing Disorder, so I have an idea of how you feel. It’s just so damn hard to explain to people how hard it is as a parent yet at the same time the most awesome thing ever to have a kid with this curse/blessing. The very things that make his life hard make him such an amazing kid. Like Sam, he’s very empathetic, very loving, and people universally comment on how he’s truly the sweetest child ever. Yet sometimes I have to grit my teeth and do deep nose breaths over his quirks.

  • 29. SwingCheese  |  February 6th, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    From your posts, Sam sounds like a wonderful little person, and you’re doing a great job as her mom. It would be challenging to have a child with SPD, and not only because of the child, per se, but because of the way that others perceive your parenting. It does not occur to me to do anything but offer some sign of solidarity to a mom whose kid is melting down in public, because what’s the point of being judgey here, anyway? It isn’t going to make anyone feel any better, it isn’t going to stop the meltdown and it is just rude.

    Anyway, I think that the people who believe that they have control over their child are the same sort who take credit for having good sleepers as infants. We don’t have control of our children. We guide, support, nurture and soothe them as best we can, but we don’t ever really control them. Some parents – like you – realize this and make their peace with it early on. The smug ones don’t really get it until their kids become teenagers.

  • 30. Jen  |  February 7th, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Mine is only 2.5 (and a boy), but he definitely has his moments. This was a beautiful post, and I must say, I loved the part about YGG’s characters looking like giant sex toys. Just calling it like it is!

  • 31. Dresden (@DresdenPlaid)  |  February 7th, 2013 at 9:52 am

    Wonderful and loving post.
    I have a “spirited boy” that daily makes me realize that there will never be a book that helps me parent him because, dude, he will NEVER be the happiest toddler on the block. Getting out of my own way is something I have to remind myself to do all the time. So W doesn’t do ____ or ____ or ___ and he has only done ______ twice. But he is his own person.

  • 32. Dresden (@DresdenPlaid)  |  February 7th, 2013 at 9:53 am

    also? OMG! SwingCheese said it so well!!
    “I think that the people who believe that they have control over their child are the same sort who take credit for having good sleepers as infants.”

    YES. THAT.

  • 33. Jaida  |  February 7th, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    I almost feel guilty sometimes because I get a “free pass” because my child’s differences are visible on the surface (he has Down syndrome). He can be SUCH a hard child to parent and plenty of it has nothing to do with Ds, but because people can see that he’s different they tend to give us a little more leeway. Dealing with challenging behaviors in public when there is no “obvious” difference in your child must be very difficult and I go out of my way to never ever judge another parent in public (well, short of abuse).

    For what it’s worth, Pacey is 6 (my child with Ds) and my daughter is 3.5. We’ve never told Brighton that Pacey has Ds and I don’t know that she *knows* he’s different yet, but she is so utterly accepting and loving of him just as he is. She has adopted some of our strategies with him (helping him enunciate his words, helping him with tasks he might find difficult) without even thinking about it, and is fiercely protective of him. Allie will be the perfect sister for Sam and she will understand her more deeply than you could ever imagine, just because she will always see you and your husband managing her behaviors. There is just that something that is SO special about siblings, and your two will be no different.

  • 34. Emilie  |  February 7th, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    I was this child. I was extremely sensitive, anxious in new situation and anything too sensory overload. I remember crying every day at school for the smallest things. One day my teacher asked if I had a pencil and I had forgotten mine at home and I started crying. Every day was difficult and others teased me, but today I am an extremely well adjusted adult who still has some anxiety and can be overly sensitive, but I don’t know where I’d be if my mom hadn’t sat me down every day to talk about what had made me sad and talking through the feelings I experienced every day.

  • 35. Sarah Park  |  February 10th, 2013 at 5:50 am

    Being a mom of a growing child is really tough. It takes a lot of patience how to make her understand the things that she is still coping up. But things will be fine soon. Just continue to support her and make her feel loved all the time.

  • 36. Li  |  February 11th, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    I love you so much. And I love this post because it is so you and you are so amazing.

  • 37. jodifur  |  February 12th, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Michael has always been challenging. And I always, always worried it was something I did “wrong.” I don’t have the second child like you do, but I can tell you that every year is a little bit easier, is a little bit different.

    Someone once said to me “we do the best we can, and when we know better, we do better,” and I try to remember that every day.

  • 38. Annie  |  February 12th, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    As the older sibling growing up, my younger brother dealt with an older sister that was not only highly competitive and bossy, but also one whose blood sugar dictated her mood. At times, I was unpredictable and cruel to him (and everyone around). I’m sure he grew up thinking I was crazy.

    My brother has grown up to be one of the most empathetic and gifted people I know. Allie will be a great sister. I have no doubt!

  • 39. crabby  |  February 12th, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    I get it. Your description of Yo Gabba Gabba live? oh man. My oldest wouldn’t make it through five minutes without profoundly losing her shit. So three cheers for Sam! That’s awesome.

    Also? My oldest is just the same way with her little sister (and absolutely just dying to meet her little brother), and I wonder if it is all somehow related? Mine doesn’t have straightforward sensory issues, she has mild dyspraxia that makes certain situations total sensory overload (like the dentist today which I cannot even discuss), but other times makes her sensory-seeking (she would spend the entire summer rolling and squishing in a pit of mud of I let her), but all around, I wonder if there is something about experiencing the world this way that makes them extra-gentle souls. I swear my girl is going to grow up to be a teacher, she has the patience of a saint. As long as you’re not trying to touch her anywhere near her head.

  • 40. carpet cleaning downey  |  March 21st, 2013 at 6:06 am

    Being a mom of a growing child is really tough. It takes a lot of patience how to make her understand the things that she is still coping up. But things will be fine soon. Just continue to support her and make her feel loved all the time.

  • 41. Legal Incense  |  March 24th, 2013 at 10:51 am

    t the same way with her little sister (and absolutely just dying to meet her little brother), and I wonder if it is all somehow related? Mine doesn’t have straightforward sensory issues, she has mild dyspraxia that makes certain situations total sensory overload (like the dentist today which I cannot even discuss), but other times makes her sensory-seeking (she would spend the entire summer rolling and squishing in a

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  • 43. Ima Blakely  |  March 28th, 2013 at 3:22 am

    But things will be fine soon. Just continue to support her and make her feel loved all the time.

  • 44. psycho-analysis  |  April 6th, 2013 at 6:49 am

    Someone once said to me “we do the best we can, and when we know better, we do better,” and I try to remember that every day.

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  • 46. isabel marant  |  April 18th, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    Elizabeth sobbed yesterday because someone looked at her shirt. Looked. At. Her. Shirt.Solidarity, woman.

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  • 51. Jacquie Weddle  |  May 8th, 2013 at 5:56 am

    Being a mom of a growing child is really tough. It takes a lot of patience how to make her understand the things that she is still coping up. But things will be fine soon. Just continue to support her and make her feel loved all the time.

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  • 53. Brandon Stone  |  June 18th, 2013 at 6:23 pm

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