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Small Things 9-27-13

3 year old cake

1.  Birthday party went well.  Henry got to run around with 5 of his favorite friends, eat cake & ice cream, and after they left and the excitement was over–there were more presents to open!  Henry has just realized that birthdays are fantastic cake-eating, crazy running, sandbox-playing, loot-grabbing days, and that he likes birthdays a lot.  Especially his, and he’d like to know when he can have another.  “Am I still 3, Mommy?” Is a question I’m hearing an awful lot these days.

2.  Preschool.  Oh yeah.  (Oh no).  First day went great, only he got tired by the end of the school day (which is his typical naptime, so no surprise there.) Second day, there were tears all day, off & on, though he seemed ok when I picked him up.  The night before the third day, he hardly slept at all–having burst into spontaneous tears over dinner when he realized that the next day was a school day.  Third day, he went nuts when the aide came to walk him from the car.  I had to carry him in, and he had to be held back when I left–with him shrieking, “Mama, don’t leave me! Don’t go away without me, Mommy!  Please don’t leave me!”  I made the teacher let him keep Real Bunny, and she called about 20 minutes in to let us know that he was sitting with the aide, reading books & eating apples.

And weirdly, when I came to pick him up, he was good.  “I was a brave boy today, Mommy.  Let’s go get ice cream.”  Well, I’d thought of an ice cream bribe if he didn’t cry at school, but hadn’t really thought he’d internalized that promised reward.  And there certainly had been tears.  But he also seemed to be trying to brave his way through it–and I’m a big believer in ‘fake it til you make it’ in most things, and especially in things requiring courage.  So we rewarded his ‘bravery’ with ice cream after dinner, and we took our time getting home & getting to nap, stopping to watch some construction at a nearby store, buying some frozen peas and mac & cheese for lunch, etc.  He had a great day for the rest of the day, which is good.  But I’m dreading Tuesday almost as much as he is.

And he is so damned apprehensive about next week that it breaks my heart.  I found a copy of The Kissing Hand to read to him–a book he’d read before and not been too interested in.  Figured it was timely and so gentle and sweet he’d like it.  But he realized what it was about and just froze up–like he was afraid I was going to drive him to school with only a kiss on his palm for comfort that instant.  He’s scared, and he doesn’t like it, and he’s worrying about it way more than I’d hoped.

And some of it is just that he’s had constant one-on-one attention since he was born and he doesn’t like having to share the adults in the room.  Some of that is that he’s very attached to me and it’s hard being away from the giver of hugs and snuggles and giggles.  Some of it is that he is, by nature, a sensitive kid and he’ s constantly worried that people he doesn’t know well are angry with him–especially when they’re telling him to do things differently from how he’s trying to do them.  Some of it is some learned bratty behavior stemming from the injury & attendant frustration when it doesn’t work/teachers not really realizing how little strength/control he has with that hand.  Some of it is frustration from being suddenly enrolled in school & OT four days a week.  And some of it is, as I feared, from starting school later than the rest of his class and not knowing the things they already know.

“I don’t know any of the words to any of the songs, Mommy.  I just don’t know what is happening!”


And the hand.  The damned hand.

On his second day, his teachers sent home the materials for him to make a craft–along with a note saying, “Henry just didn’t want to do this.  See if he’ll be more willing at home.”  The craft was ripping up red & yellow & green construction paper & then gluing it to the outline of an apple.  He saw that I had the construction paper & got really excited, so I handed it to him & then I watched him try desperately to grip  it tightly enough to rip a piece off with his other hand.  He let it fall to the ground and turned his back.  So I held the paper & let him rip with his good hand, and we had a blast doing the craft together ‘as a team’.  And it showed me that they didn’t spend quite enough time figuring out what was going on–he was actually desperate to do the craft just like the other kids, but he couldn’t.  And once he realized he couldn’t, he got cranky about it.  And then he said he didn’t want to do it because that’s the way this kid works–sour grapes isn’t even the word for it.  So I sent a note of my own back, reminding them that he has no feeling or gripping ability with his thumb & first two fingers, and might they please give him some additional help when the group project is something that he is not physically capable of doing unassisted.

And they were obviously better about that on Thursday–offering him a brush to use during painting when they realized that fingerpainting was too stimulating for his left hand.  (He’s also got a whole new slew of sensory issues to deal with as the nerves heal.  Yay.)

And a much-anticipated visit with my parents was canceled at the last minute when my mom fell at home.  He keeps asking if today is the day they’re coming, and we keep explaining that they’re not, and unfortunately I think we spent so much time building up this visit for him to look forward to, that our explanations are just not sinking in.

It’s been a hard couple of weeks for the little guy.

3.  On the positive side, a friend of his from playgroup is in his preschool class and his mother and I are going to start walking on Thursdays while the kiddos are in school.  I like the little girl and I like her mom, and it’s nice to have some mom-time to look forward to each week.  She just lost a pregnancy at 17 weeks due to hyperemesis gravidarum.  My heart just broke for her, and I reached out and I’m so glad I did.  She’s someone who might become a real friend, and I’m delighted.

4.  We’re still harvesting tomatoes.  Lots and lots.   The quality isn’t as high as it was in the middle of August, but damn– garden tomatoes in the last few days of September?  Unheard of!

5.  It’s my anniversary today.  I’ve been married 5 years to the most wonderful man I’ve ever known.  If we have 55 more years together it won’t be enough.

He went out to ‘run errands’ and came back with a bunch of beautiful flowers for me.  We went out to dinner at the local ‘fancy’ Italian place.  Had some decent food and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.  Now we’re home, hanging out in the library and generally having a lovely evening.  Life is good, and as the wee one adjusts to his new big boy routine, it will get even better.  (Or so I hope.  Life may be pretty much perfect, but having to calmly walk away while my son is screaming for me not to leave him?  That’s pretty horrible.  I’d like that to get better please.  And soon.)




7 comments to Small Things 9-27-13

  • jill

    We’ve had some separation issues with my 4 year old (though none as verbal and heart-wrenching as yours!), and here were some of the books that were recommended to us in addition to The Kissing Hand:

    Llama Llama Misses Mama – Dewey
    Mama Always Comes Home – Wilson
    The Invisible String – Karst

    Hope Tuesday is a better experience for you both!

    Susan Reply:

    Thanks for the book recommendations. We’ve had the Llama llama one forever–he used to weep in sympathy for poor little Llama Llama back in his pre-verbal days. Little emo boy. I’m going to look for the others, though. Thank you so much!

  • I am so sorry that the transition to preschool is going poorly. I really hope that he adjusts soon. We have found that playdates with classmates outside of class help tremendously with the social fears (the fusspot spent weeks in one class not knowing the names of any of her classmates until we scheduled some playdates). I also have wandered around every class she’s been in and taken a stack of bad snapshots of different areas. I find that I hear a lot more about the school day (and any problems …) if the kids have photos of the room to jog their memories.

    And of course, awesome awesome cake. And crazy that I have been reading your blog for well over 3 years now 😉

    Susan Reply:

    That’s a great idea about the snapshots. I have an open house to attend on Tuesday & I’ll definitely be bringing my camera. Thank you!

    He’s actually fine with the kids–he already knows one girl well from playgroup & has no real problem walking up to groups of strange kids & joining in with whatever they’re doing. The problem seems to be more that he’s used to ME being the ‘authority figure’ and he’s used to already knowing all the rules & routines. I have a very different style than his teacher. Plus she’s not, you know, ME… He got very used to being the kid in playgroup who had been there forever & who was showing everyone else the ropes. Being the youngest in any class is tough, especially when he’s “always” been the oldest.

    But yeah. My heart’s just breaking for him, and we’re scheduling playdates with anyone we can convince to come play. Kid needs a bit more fun in his life than he’s got right now.

  • Heather

    Happy Birthday Henry! I can’t beleve that I’ve been reading your blog for so long. Anyway, happiest birthday wishes to him and that cake is awesome. Wow. Yes, it is so very hard walking away from preschool while your child is crying and being held back. It just rips your heart out. It was a tough transition for my little guy too, but Hen (and you) will get through it, and he will eventually come to love his classroom, teachers and friends. It just takes time, but it will happen. I echo the above comments that scheduling some playdates with his new classmates might also help. Good luck. As always, thanks for posting as I really enjoy your updates.

  • As someone who was once in Henry’s shoes, though for different reasons, I have one suggestion, that I hope you won’t find offensive at all because no matter what you do or how you handle it, I respect you as a parent and your parenting choices. For me, when that happened, it was so so hard. And in retrospect I wish my parents had just pulled me from school since its not a necessary age to attend school, and its better to perhaps try next year, at age 4, and let the school association be a positive one. Through no fault of his own, he had to start school late and is still struggling with the physical challenges, so it might be something to consider. Again, I’m not in these shoes, and maybe the best strategy is to just see if he can find a way to adjust, but incase, I wanted to just gingerly offer this as a possible option [if it is an option at all]. Hugs to Hen. Poor kiddo!

  • I read this the other day but couldn’t comment from my phone. So much going on with Hen and I feel for him and for you. Nothing much to add in terms of advice other than to hope this too shall pass soon.

    Happy Anniversary!