The Changes Keep Coming

It’s almost ironic that the one person in our family who is the most resistant to change (Cordy) is the one who has to endure so much change.

After nearly settling into her routine at her new preschool, we’re changing her again. She will still be in the same room, and still have the same teacher, but she will be moved to the morning class.

We’re not just doing this for the fun of it. In fact, I’d rather not do it, because she’s now well liked by her classmates, and it’s likely she notices them as more than just the background, too. But there’s one big problem hanging over the situation: she’s exhausted by the afternoon. Cordy wakes up around 5:00AM every morning, no matter how we try to adjust her schedule. Putting her to bed earlier or later doesn’t change the time she’s up for the day.

Taking her to class each day, I have to struggle to drive while also playing 20 questions to keep Cordy awake. It works about half the time. Either way, she has trouble giving her full focus to school because she’s so tired. They have lunch first in class, which is actually Cordy’s second lunch, since she has breakfast at 6:00AM and wants lunch by 11:00AM. Being tired also increases the chances of a major meltdown substantially.

Two weeks ago, her teacher mentioned that a boy was leaving the morning class, and maybe we should consider moving Cordy into that space. I completely agreed.

So next week, Cordy’s routine will change again, and she will face an entirely new set of classmates. I hope these new kids will be as accepting of her as her current class is. A couple of the kids in her current class really like Cordy, and go out of their way to cheer her up when she’s crying. Will she miss them? Will there be kids like that in her new class?

And then, yesterday a note came home in Cordy’s backpack from the school’s physical therapist. She said that she has been watching Cordy, and thinks she needs an official gross motor skills evaluation based on what she’s seen. She noticed Cordy has difficulty with awareness of where her body is in space, and she seems to have poor motor planning. A form was enclosed, asking for my signature to authorize an evaluation.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. Sure, she’s clumsy. OK, she falls down a lot, often because her feet can’t keep up with her. And she runs into things a lot because she’s not paying attention. I guess I didn’t see that problem. I’m a little down about this – you don’t want anything to be wrong with your child, but then once there is something wrong, you don’t want to find out there might be more wrong.

I read Amalah’s post about Noah’s evaluation today, and had tears in my eyes, completely understanding how she feels. Especially when she wrote this:

He toe-walked the entire time…something we thought he’d more or less outgrown…and at one point he wobbled and fell over while standing completely still. His speech therapist said she’s seen him do that before. I bit my lip and tried not to cry, because my God, I never noticed.

I’ve preached and clucked that sometimes, the single best thing you can do for your child is admit that something is wrong. Today I had to put their checklist where my mouth is, and I didn’t like it.

I felt much the same yesterday when I got that note. I never noticed Cordy’s physical problems because I was so focused on her behavior issues. I waved off past evaluators when they asked about motor skills, saying as far as I knew she was a typical kid in that regard. Now I must look more closely and admit that maybe something is wrong.

If the physical therapist finds a significant delay, we’ll add gross motor skills to her IEP and she’ll begin physical therapy along with her occupational and speech therapies. More changes for all of us.

It can be so overwhelming sometimes, and it doesn’t help that this past week has been a bad one for Cordy. Lots of acting out, lots of meltdowns, lots of repetitive behaviors and zoning out. It’s been maddening, and while I love her with all my heart, I confess that sometimes I don’t like her very much.

I hate admitting that, but it’s true. I love her quirks, her humor, her amazing view of the world, but I tire of the negative side that comes with it. Sometimes I want to scream, “Why can’t you act like other kids? Why can’t you just be…normal?” (But I don’t, of course. And the word “normal” has been banned in our house.)

Does that make me a bad parent? I certainly hope not. Because few little girls could have parents so devoted to making sure she gets what she needs.

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  1. Oh sweetie. Hang in there. I know, I KNOW what it’s like to have “that child” in the “normal” class, and it feels like you’re being judged 24/7. But, it DOES get better. I am FINALLY able to breathe a bit this year… FINALLY. It feels wonderful to see my child being able to cope, explain himself, adjust to new situations without meltdowns, and to not have the entire day laid out for him ahead of time to avoid hysteria. (Well, I just asked him if he wanted to go the Field Museum in 2 weeks, but explained that we couldn’t do ALL of the exhibits or buy any souvenirs and that if this was going to be a problem, we had to discuss it now. Yes, 2 WEEKS in advance.)

    Is that even encouraging? Sorry. I’m rambling. I understand. I get it. I used to think that Justin was just particular and scientifically minded. Well, he IS. He loves science and his quirks and sensory issues are only adding to his brilliance. Cordy WILL outgrow these problems and/or learn to cope with them so that she can become the most amazing girl and then woman you could ever imagine. And she will remember the incredible support and love she got from you.

    Being “different” is an oxymoron. EVERYone is different. Some of us just have a harder time hiding it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    My son went through all the evaluations. I remember wishing he could be just ‘normal’. All the why’s were asked. Why me? Why him? Everything you are feeling is totally normal.

  3. I think feeling that way makes you, dare I say, NORMAL! And brave enough to admit it.

    I hope the transition to a.m. class goes well. She has done so well with getting into the class, then the bus, now this — I am sure it will work out.

  4. Tracey – Yes, it is encouraging. I think part of this process is not just Cordy learning new ways to adapt her behavior, but also for Aaron and I to learn how to adapt as well (just like you start prepping 2 weeks in advance). And you’re right – we’re all different, some are just more obvious than others.

    Corey – Yeah, I don’t understand why they have afternoon preschool. Cordy doesn’t always take a nap, but she’s generally tired in the afternoon.

    Mayberry – I was wondering if someone was going to use “normal”, LOL!

  5. the up side, of course, is that all the “new” stuff being added will be things that are geared to helping cordy.

    and your friends in the computer are rooting for all of you.

  6. I have so much difficulty answering the motor skills questions too – I just don’t have much of a sense of what’s normal to expect at a given age. Language (obviously) is so much easier for me to analyze.

    It sounds like you’re doing the right thing, moving to the morning class. Bub really slumps in the afternoon, even though he hasn’t had a regular nap at that time for months. I think he learns so much better in the morning.

  7. Delurking to say:

    She’s gorgeous in every way imaginable from your descriptions of her to your photos. And it’s obvious how much her parents love her.

  8. Maybe moving her to the morning class will help improve all her skills if she can come home and have a nap when she’s done.

  9. {{{hugs}}}

    Sending you a hug.

    Changes. Changes are tough on everyone, but often they’re necessary. I think everyone probably learns better in the morning, fresh off of a nights sleep. Hopefully this change will be a good one for Cordy.

    As for the additional testing and possible therapy…if it’s necessary for Cordy, you’ll get it and live with it. You’re that type of mother. You see the need and you move toward a solution. You may not have seen this particular need but you saw enough to get this ball rolling and that’s what’s most important.

    While I “hear” some drag in your “voice” I still feel the determination you have to do anything and everything you can for your daughter.

    Some moms would throw their hands up in the air and say nope, no way, I can’t possibly add one more thing to my agenda.

    You on the other hand have always seemed to me to be the type of mom who says “Another necessary therapy? Who, what, why, where and when?” as you juggle your calendar with Mira in the crook of your arm. You’re what I call a git ‘er done gal.

    While I’m sure it’s exhausting to think of one more thing to do. One more issues to learn about and find a way to help your girl through. I believe you’ll git ‘er done.

    Hang in there~

  10. MamaMichelsBabies says:

    Awww hun… normal, in any case, is a relative term. Really. I’ve got 5, and if I were to compare one’s developement to another, none of them would be normal. Boom didn’t talk until she was 4. Not one frickin word. Boogs? When I read this post I saw him as he does the fallin over while standing in one spot. Meathead? He’s the one with the meltdowns. Monkey? His favorite sentence right now is “Your Mean” followed by a complete shut down that the Pope couldn’t penetrate. Not crying, no nada. Just a stare and a pout.

    I’m not comparing by any means, but I am saying that maybe, because she does have certian things going on, perhaps they are more keenly aware of something that otherwise would cause a raised eyebrow but not much more. It doesn’t mean that your a bad Mom to sometimes think that.. you have a huge amount on your plate, both of you do. If you were, I’m going to lose my Mom certificate, because I constantly look at my offspring in wonder. And not the good kind of wonder either.

    I hope her transition goes smoothly, I really do, for both of you.

  11. You are doing the best things that you can for Cordy. I think morning preschool is absolutely the best choice for any child her age. If she needs more therapy, that just means she’ll be that closer to being easier going and comfortable with herself and you’ll start to really enjoy her as a person, not just loving her as your daughter. Keep trucking along, it will be worth it.

  12. You certainly shouldn’t beat yourself up over not catching everything. How the hell do we know what everything is? I’m constantly amazed at my 9-year-old daughter’s abilities, and I work hard to keep at bay the concern about her fitting in and being “normal.” She’s different. But she’s also wonderful. I guess I’m just saying that you should be so pleased that you’ve found a place where the people are focused on her and helping her. It sounds like you’ve got a team going. Good luck with the change to morning. It sounds like the positives will far outweigh the negatives — perhaps not in the short term but in the long term.

  13. Jennifer aka Binky Bitch says:

    No way, this doesn’t qualify as bad parenting. You are a great mom, to see Cordy for all her good traits. I’m sorry this is so overwhelming.

  14. uhhhh…up there ^^^ that’s me :)

  15. Definitely don’t beat yourself up for not noticing something. You’ve had one child Cordy’s age, Cordy. The professionals at the school have seen hundreds, and they’ve been trained to look for specific things. That’s the so very good news — that they are looking out for her and alerting you to things that you might not notice as quickly. And then helping her.

    As to not liking her sometimes even as you still love her, oh so very normal. It is bound to happen to every parent and more than once in your child’s life. Cordy’s challenges just mean it hit you perhaps a bit earlier.

  16. You are so not a bad parent. As far as not noticing her possible motor skill delays, when you live with a person/child, it is easy to not see things that seem obvious to others. Think of the parents whose children who lose weight and don’t notice.

    Hang in there. In the long run this will be better for the entire family even though it will be difficult in the short term. Good luck.

  17. Boy, do I relate! I think our feelings of wanting our kids to be “normal” or like other kids comes mostly from our exhaustion and frustration. You are not a bad mom for thinking it. You just need a day off from how exhausting parenting these kids can be.

  18. It is especially hard to see those things in your own kids. It is even harder when they are your first born because you have no other kids to compare them to. I have been dithering over my decision to not push speech therapy for Evan.

    He is obviously behind his peers as he started talking late but I keep fighting with myself if I should take him in to speech therapy to help him catch up. Added into this mix is that he is already in physical therapy so that would take even more time away from his fun kids things. I already have a hard time some weeks scheduling him play dates with his friends.

    Hang in there and take it easy on yourself. You are not going to “break” Cordy and ruin her childhood forever by not seeing some things.

  19. Cordy is so lucky to have two wonderful, caring, involved and loving parents, please try not to be so hard on yourself, you are doing what is best for Cordy and your family. I really hope the morning class goes well and sending good thoughts that the children will welcome her with open arms. I know the next few weeks will be even more stressful, I hope you will take some time for yourself to relax.

  20. How are we ever supposed to look at our children and think that they are less than perfect? Or at the very least, simply who they are?

    You didn’t notice any gross motor ‘issues’ because you’ve been with Cordy all her life, and have watched her grow, shuffle, crawl, walk, run, achieve… only someone that comes in at an advanced and specific point could possibly ‘assess’ that particular point. Do you know what I mean?

  21. Don’t be hard on yourself, your thoughts are totally “normal,” it’s your actions that count, and you are doing the right thing….

    It’s awful that we can be so hard on ourselves, loving parents, doing the best for our kids. I try to remind myself “if my best friend was telling me this story, what would I say to her?” and try to treat myself with the same compassion that I would a friend…

  22. Motherhood Uncensored says:

    She needs you to have those eyes –the ones that see the beauty that she is.

    Let the therapists deal with her special needs.

  23. Look at all those gorgeous curls!
    How fortunate you are that there is a physical therapist observing at your school. Not many schools have that available. It is so hard for parents to see something different in their kids because they love them so much, and are so close to the situation. An outsider is needed. If something is a little off the therapist will catch it early and dealing with it will be much easier than if it was found later.
    I agree the other comments that there really is no “normal”. My first son didn’t even sit up until he was almost 9 months. For my second son he was walking at 9 months. Every kid is different.
    Hang in there!

  24. sparklykatt says:

    Please don’t beat yourself up over this. Just be thankful an expert noticed and you will be able to get help.

    The gross motor issues could be related to her sensory issues (am I remembering correctly that she has some) which is so common in kids on the spectrum.

    Have you checked out this yahoo gruop yet?

    I’ve found it to be incredibly helpful. Lots of parents with kids with SID, ADHD, autism, aspergers, etc. etc.

    Just to share my “beating myself up moment” – when Noah was two we spent so much time worry about his sensory issues that we kept blowing off our doctor when she tried to get us to deal with attachment issues too. Turns out when we finally did see an attachment therapist it was the best damn thing we ever did. Yet for almost a year I just couldn’t see it myself, mainly because I just didn’t get all the nuances of attachment.

  25. I am so glad that folks seem to be on the lookout for Cordy. It is nice to have a team who is forthright with their observations and proactive.

    Best of luck with the transition!

    It seems as though she is really getting the attention that she needs.

  26. Oh, Christina. My heart aches for you because I can only imagine how frustrating/difficult/ scary/challenging/horrifying/etc. this must all be. But you definitely need to remember what you wrote in your last paragraph: Cordy is lucky to have you and you are a wonderful parent. Even when parenting sucks and you want to go back to being childless and crazy.

  27. Lotus Siva Carroll says:

    Being able to be real and honest, and caring enought to ask the question, “does that make me a bad parent?” are two qualities of an excellent parent.

    Normal is for suckers.

    Best wishes to Cordy in her new timeslot – here’s hoping all you’ll notice are improvements! :-)

  28. i know how hard that kind of thing is. we were seeing an Occupational Therapist and Psychologist about my Zander’s eating disorder. one day a Speech Language Pathologist joined us, and noticed problems with Zander’s speech. he’s doing things that are atypical for speech patterns in a 2.5 year old. that was all i needed to hear, let me tell you!

    sometimes it’s just all too much, and us moms tend to pile it all on our own shoulders.

    the thing is, even if it is a bit of a problem now, maybe it won’t be in a few months. Zander’s speech problems are slowing clearing up. his vocabulary is insane, but his pronunciation is still kinda wonky. but within a couple of weeks of doing speech exercises, he was making major improvements.

    i’m sorry that this is happening. it’s so hard to hear that there may be something “wrong” with your child.

    hang in there…i’m crossing my fingers for you and Cordy!

  29. There have been nights when I have sobbed to my husband, “Why didn’t we have a “normal child?” “Why can’t he just act like a typical 6 year old?” It’s frustrating, and rewarding to have the non-typical child. Sometimes the feeling of frustration outweighs the visible rewards. It’s OK to feel that. You have to let yourself feel that when it comes, otherwise, it builds up; and you can start resending Cordy.
    But, in the light of morning, you pull yourself up and go to the evaluations and therapies, because all that matters is that child is YOUR child, and all that matters is helping that child live the best life they can.

  30. Mrs. Chicken says:

    Oh, Christina. I hear your heart in every word here. You could not be a better parent, and you will get through all of this. Cordy will be alright, she’ll find her way and her place with all of your loving help. I’m sure it can only feel like an avalanche of badness right now. I’m not sure I’d handle what is clearly stressful with such grace.

    You are going through a lot of changes yourself. Be easy on yourself, OK?

    That little girl of yours is blessed to have you, and you are in turn blessed by her.


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