Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Backstory

In order to write about the day-2-day with Ben, we need a little history...

I have been blessed with a pretty clairvoyant gut. It’s told me a lot of stuff over the years—not that I’ve chosen to listen to its nagging, but I must say, it’s never been wrong. Like, I knew i would marry my husband when i met him. I knew Ben was a boy before any test. But those were the good things--I usually had a problem listening to the stuff i didn't want to hear (although, in my defense, does ANYONE have an easy time hearing that?) Knowing something and acknowledging it are two totally different things. Example—back in the day, my gut was SCREAMING at me that my college boyfriend of umpteen years was cheatin’—but I didn’t wanna hear it, so I didn’t get the truth until it was too late, and fairly ugly. (kinda like the girls he was...oh never mind) You’d think that dramatic episode of my life would have been enough for my gut to smack me around and say, “hey! Listen, dumbass!” But ignorance can be bliss.

Yeah—I knew something was up. Sittin’ in the infernal hell that was Mommy & Me, listening to all the brilliant milestones that Rhonda McSuperMom’s brilliant child had on her brilliant birthday with her brilliant books and brilliant French vocabulary, wondering if assault and battery was forgiveable under a plea of insanity, I would look at my boy and just KNOW that he was different. And to use a favorite Temple Grandin quote—“Different, not less”.

Different. Like, he’d met almost every physical milestone one time or early. Ok—he’s a boy—they do that. He didn’t talk much. Again—a different set of junk calling the shots. The things that made me think were never BIG clues. When you read other blogs/testimonials/inspirational inanities, you hear about kids that don’t’ talk, don’t make eye contact, that are not affectionate, that line up their toys and spin wheels or propellers incessantly, that meltdown—and I don’t mean the typical toddler tantrum—I mean a full nuclear meltdown that lasts for hours over little things like a tag scratching them, or pistachio ice cream (although, that one I kinda understand). My boy didn’t fit that particular mold, and when questioned, our former pediatrician (yes former) would just tell me that speech wasn’t my son’s strong suit, and the proceed to ask me about potty training and if he’s been to a dentist yet and that I just need to keep talking to him. As if I were at home in a beret practicing mime techniques.

And he was talking. In his own way. Dada. Mama. Different kinds of trucks. His numbers to 20. Every shape in his shape puzzle—including hexagon and octagon. All the planets—including Pluto, which is still a planet in this house. The different parts of a drum kit. You get where I’m going here. He was blowing us away with the words he DID know, that we weren’t noticing the words he didn’t know. Those words he was using, by the way, were (and sometimes still are) rarely understood by others. They could be understood with a little context, and a few were very clear, but most of them were a jumbled mess. Example—“gwetu” meant blanket.

He looked us in the eye. He gave kisses and hugs. He pointed at things he wanted, and labeled them sometimes. He watched other kids and was amused by their antics. And he would even engage them occasionally—if by engage you mean running around bumping into other kids and laughing. Again—testicles are a totally different influence, and when I made eye contact on the playground, those moms of rambunctious boys would just laugh and wave off any apologies and offer up a juice box. Moms raising prissy little things? Well, let’s just say my son and I gave them something to talk about when they went down to the yogurt shop to introduce little Piper or Francis to pistachio flavored non-fat, sugar-free yogurt flavored with the extracts of stevia plants harvested under a full moon by native virgins in protected rainforests.

But there were the other things that made my gut scream “different!” He never called for me. After a nap, when he needed help, when he was scared. He would just walk or run to me if he needed me. Fairly pragmatic, if you think about it. But I was missing that little call: “mommy?” (he has since learned to ask others for me—which is a step in the right direction. But I won’t lie when I say I really yearn for that one) When he played with his cars or airplanes, he would bring it very close his eye—or get down on ground level and have it “drive by” his face at that close angle. He wouldn’t copy other’s actions. And when overwhelmed or overstimulated, he would either go into destructor mode (destroy everything in sight) or get “the beans”—a phrase I used once when he would start shaking his head back and forth in a “no” gesture. Sometimes he would spin—but that particular habit would come and go.

So I did what most parents did. I started researching crap on the internet. Crap being the operative word here. Of course I found websites that fed my fears, and promptly ignored them, and moved on to the ones that told me what I wanted to hear: he’s just a boy—they do things differently. “My kid did that, and now he’s a normal kid” testimonials. I sat on that for a while. I listened to that former pediatrician I mentioned. And the well-meaning friends who constantly gave me the “he’s a boy” argument. Except for one friend—she told me that it was her opinion that I should get him evaluated—that I stop listening to the doctor(also her kids’ former pediatrician) and get him to a speech therapist. That while he’s an awesome kid in all other aspects, he needs a boost. She was brave enough to say to me what other friends would not, because no one wants to be the heavy. (kinda like those friends who couldn’t tell me that previous boyfriend was playin’…) I'll never forget that--how brave she was. I no doubt owe her a few more martinis. She spoke, and my gut—that fabulously wise intestine told me to listen. And I did. We got the referrals and then the refusals, and all the other fun dance steps of the Insurance Industry Hoe-Down , (our first lesson in the two-step douchebag series that is insurance policy) and then decided to pay out of pocket to get him started. We got a referral from one of my husband’s co-workers and made the appointment for an evaluation at a private speech therapist. And my gut, for once, settled down.

She's told me a few other things since we started, that clairvoyant bowel of mine--some good some bad, but I'm listening now. This isn't just about teaching Ben to pay attention, you know...

To be continued: next--Evaluate This!


Happy13 said...

Ah, don't you just love the "He's a boy" argument? Visiting from the Blog Gems Hop

life In A Pink Fibro said...

Interesting post. I love that Temple Grandin quote. Instinct is really our best friend, isn't it - when we listen. Great blog. Visiting from Blog Gems.

@jencull (jen) said...

I heard the 'he's a boy' thing too, only I was the one worried and others patting me down and thinking I was crazy. I like the Temple Grandin quote too, it really says it very well :) Thanks for joining in blog gems. Jen

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