This week Charlie and I have been talking about cows. Riveting, no? I assume this is why you’re reading this blog–for the incredible discourse on bovine populations. Anyway, our usual cognitive program was overwhelming me a little (it’s possible everything overwhelms me this time of year), so I took a page from the Letter of the Week Curriculum and took a few basic things and just talked about them several times over the course of the week. I actually only did half the Letter of the Week curriculum because between therapy and therapy and you know, therapy there never seems to be enough time in the week for normal toddler stuff. Some days I would be willing to swear that it’s the freakin’ schedule that keeps the special kids behind. No time to talk about farms today! You’ve got stretching to do!
So this week we talked about cows and the letter A. There were some not-very-successful books from the library (Dear Lord, why does my child hate books so much?), puzzles, pictures, a video I checked out from the library and then decided I was kidding myself, and even some multi-sensory flash cards. I actually feel pretty good about the whole thing–I definitely think some of what I said sunk in. There was at least a glimmer of recognition when I said “a calf is a baby cow” for like the eighth time. Now, at the very least, I can tell St. Peter that I taught my kid about cows. . . that’s an automatic in, right?
The teaching thing goes two ways though and I was reminded of that again this week. I was trading e-mails with another ABR mother who was feeling down and out. She’s eliminated some of her daughter’s spasticity, but with that, her daughter has also lost the ability to stand. Make no mistake, it’s progress, but progress can be tough when it means losing something in another area.
If there’s anything that Charlie’s taught me, though, it’s that progress is rarely linear. Maybe you knew a girl in high school who was both tall and blonde and a cheerleader and the Homecoming Queen, but for most of us, I think it’s a little less cut and dry. Some of us have frizzy brown hair aren’t really coordinated enough for any sort of group dance other than the line variety (this is completely hypothetical, right?) Life is series of starts and stops–a victory lap followed quickly by a skinned knee. A touchdown and a sack all in the same quarter.
Charlie “loses” skills all the time. I think we went three straight months where he wouldn’t stand for a second. Now he’s back and better than ever. He used to clap on command, but don’t expect him to do that these days–he is so OVER clapping. He will give you five, though. Five is still cool (this week). As he works on one set of skills, another set is pushed to the side and while I know it’s common, it can still be tough to take.
Almost every part of life feels the same. We don’t immediately take our place on the top of the mountain; we don’t have it all right away. We stumble. We lose ground, but we take a deep breath, maybe check out the scenery, and then we keep moving. Not giving up is often the biggest challenge.
Having a special needs child in my life is a constant reminder that life doesn’t hand us everything. Hard work is part of the equation. I try my best to remember all that I do have and not dwell on what I don’t. When life hands me a setback, I remind myself of all that my teeny, tiny baby was able to overcome and that helps keep it in perspective. I’m aware that this all sounds cheesy and sentimental, well, that’s because it is–my kid inspires me. He makes me better and he reminds me every single day that most of the stuff I’m worried about isn’t even a big deal.