Thursday, March 25, 2010
I am deep in the trenches of parenthood - up to my elbows in literal and figurative muck. Just today we finally caught up on our laundry after a simultaneous, family-wide bout with the stomach flu last week that soaked everything. It set in on St. Patrick’s Day, so we got to relieve our college days – the vomiting part, not the drinking part.
We are committed to getting Emerson fully potty-trained this month, so we spend all our time rushing him to the little potty and begging him not to touch anything in public bathrooms. Our goal for Fionn is to get him to sleep in the crib next to our bed instead of being in our bed, so nighttime has been a battlefield in and of itself. He also recently learned the word “NO!!” so that’s now his answer to everything.
There are times when both sides lay down arms and peace reigns once again. Emerson is making huge strides in speech therapy and got a positive progress report from school. Fionn is staying on track with his milestones so far and is a master of flirting with women of all ages. Every once in a while the two of them take a break from pushing each other and actually hug. It usually only last a few seconds before Fionn releases his war cry and throws Emerson to the ground, but we’ll take what we can get.
My children are many things, but they are never boring. Fionn keeps up constantly moving and Emerson keeps us constantly guessing.
A couple of weeks ago during Emerson's private speech therapy, the therapist pulled out a doll house and a family of dolls. Emerson has become fascinated by pretend play, so I wasn't surprised when he snatched up the mom and dad right away. I was surprised, however, when he mashed their faces and bodies together in an apparent display of affection. At first I beamed with pride that my son was so loving.
He had been doing this a lot lately...Thomas the Train needs a drink and blanket...Elmo puts the fireman on his lap for a cuddle (why does that seem dirty in print?) And now this.
“Aww...are mommy and daddy hugging?”
When mommy and daddy wouldn’t stop “hugging,” I started to squirm. The therapist tried to convince him that mommy needed to go up the stairs or that daddy wanted to sit at the dinner table, but he ignored her.
We both started giggling uncomfortably. “I guess mommy and daddy are busy...embracing,” she smirked.
She decided to forcibly take daddy out of his hand and replace him with the baby, but Emerson screamed in protest. As soon as daddy was returned, the couple was going at it again.
My mind started racing...Robbie and I weren’t that physical in front of the kids. Had PBS gone x-rated and I failed to notice? Where was my friend who’s a sex therapist when I need her?!”
I was just about to tell mommy and daddy to get a room already when the therapist took pity on me and removed the doll house altogether.
“Let’s play with balls instead.”
Yesterday, our Vision Teacher came to see Fionn for his monthly home visit. As he was busy playing with the toys, she and I got to talking about Emerson’s progress. She visits him once a month at school and once at home, so she often provides me with useful information about what’s going on at school.
She confirmed that he’s making a lot of progress and that the teachers are anxious to accommodate his needs. For instance, during group time he sits next to the teacher and/or they make him his own copy of the picture they’re working with. As you can see in the recent pictures I’ve posted, we got him specialized, rose-tinted eyeglasses that cut down on glare and the harshness of fluorescent lights. Both his school and vision teachers say that it’s helping his ability to make eye contact and look at pictures.
The VT mentioned that teaching him to use the white cane has also been great. We’ve talked about this in the past few weeks, but for some reason I suddenly felt a little melancholy. Partly because it’s strange to think he’s learning something so important when I’m not around and I haven’t even seen him do it yet. And partly because the image of him walking around with a cane is a vivid, inescapable reminder of his low vision.
The teacher mentioned that during next week’s home visit, she would bring his cane from school so we could practice with it in our neighborhood. I agreed that it would be helpful for him to expand his practice environment and helpful for me to know what the cane was all about. The melancholy started to dissipate.
Then she talked about how the teachers at his school let him lead the class with his cane whenever they move from one room to the next.
“He loves to explore things with his cane,” she gushed. “And it’s hilarious to watch because all the kids are holding onto a rope, so wherever Emerson goes, they all go. From far away, all you can see is this line of preschoolers zig zagging drunkenly down the hallway!”
I burst out laughing and the melancholy was gone. Things aren’t perfect...most days it feels like we’re losing the war...but the unexpected keeps me going.
As Luke put it, Can the blind lead the blind? Shall they not both fall into the ditch?
Probably. But we’ll have fun along the way.