The week was closing with little to no fan-fare, so I didn't expect to be sideswiped by emotion today. But I was. I am. I'll start in order:
I met with the Director of Christian's preschool this week. Since my (unscheduled) Parent-Teacher conference last week, I have reflected more and more on the inappropriateness of the "concerns" brought to my attention. A meeting that I thought was supposed to address how Christian has a hard time listening and transitioning from the outdoor playtime back inside and his sometimes quirky communication-style morphed into a meeting where words like "Frontal Lobe Issues", "ADHD", and "Child Psychologist Observation" were thrown around. The cherry on top was the handy "ADHD and your child" brochure that was handed to me at the end... So, I requested a private and confidential meeting with the director of the school to discuss it. The first problem was that the director had bad information. She was told that I brought up a concern about ADHD and requested that I have a child psychologist come and observe Christian in class ! (???) Um, No. I was the first to say out loud the word "ADD?", only after "Frontal lobe issues" and "Attention issues" were placed on the table. I AGREED to an observation, but was NOT the one to suggest it. Once those facts were cleared up and other details were filled in (i.e. the handy ADHD brochure that the director knew nothing about...and dropped her head to her hands when she did) I made clear that my concern is that Christian is not labelled as anything at this early age, so that these words do not affect his self-esteem. The director could not agree more. I didn't get a huge sense of relief out of the meeting, but I did feel that the director has called her attention to it and we'll re-assess where we stand after I have some professional opinions in the next couple of weeks.
On Friday, I made my way back to Club 21, a resource for families and children with Down syndrome. Friday mornings are the "First Steps" program, which is a playgroup for babies 0-3 with Down syndrome. It's a great place for the Moms and Dads to connect to others also and it has been extremely helpful for me. Due to a jam-packed schedule, I had been unable to attend with Elijah for about 2 and a half months. I was excited to see everyone and managed to get myself there despite dirty diapers, preschool drop off and a lack of cream for a coffee... Each week Club 21 provides a professional of some sort to be a resource for us. Sometimes it's a Physical Therapist, sometimes an Occupational Therapist, even a Sign Language Instructor. This week introduced me to someone I have sort of "met" before...See this post for my online run-in with her. She is basically an outspoken Mom with a teenage son with Down syndrome who rubbed me the wrong way while I was pregnant (and the pregnancy hormones weren't helping either...), and although I wasn't formally introduced to her title, I think she's also an Occupational Therapist? Anyway, she was playing with Elijah and doing some "OT while she was at it", when she said, "He's still pretty weak, isn't he?" I remarked that yes, the PT who evaluated him said he was moderately low-tone (which is considerably lower than a typically developing baby and lower than some who are also affected by low muscle tone.) Then she said, "He reminds me of my Gabriel. Luckily they didn't say anything to me when he was a baby, but when he got older, our PT finally admitted that he had been the lowest tone baby he'd ever seen!" (I'm thinking, Does Elijah remind you of your son because he seems so low toned, or were those two separate thoughts: He reminds you of your son. Your son had very low tone. ??) That added insult to some injury when I saw how tiny Elijah looked even in comparison to another baby with Down syndrome only one month older than him, who was also moving around significantly more than Elijah is. It didn't bum me out a whole lot, but it was one of those things that I "took in". I took it in and filed it away, and it probably wouldn't have bothered me, except that today got factored into the mix.
Today was a Birthday Party Extravaganza day. Two parties in one day. From bounce house Heaven to Batman silliness, we trekked the city for a couple of Christian's preschool friends. All went well at our first party. It was unstructured, pure-fun play (personally, the kind I think is necessary for 3 and 4 year olds) with a few of Christian's classmates from school. I was already friends with the Birthday girl's Mom (even prior to the start of preschool), so it was a fun one to be at. I did notice that a few of the kids, (mostly girls) seemed to already have pretty tightly bonded friendships. It was the first time that a flash from the preschool meeting came to mind...(where I nearly fell off my chair from shock at the question, "Does Christian have any friends?") In witnessing the cute little girls holding hands and wanting to run to each play station together, I began to question if maybe Christian hadn't yet formed the kinds of friendships the teachers were talking about. However, Christian had an absolute blast and seemed comfortable and happy, which seemed to be the most important thing. We headed back to our end of town and dropped off Daddy and Baby Elijah, so Christian and I could skip over to the Batman party at My Gym. This party was for a boy who had been in the same Mommy and Me class with Christian 2 years ago. He started a formal preschool class last year and is not in Christian's class this year. I had planned to blow off this party, but the boy's Mom cornered me on the way out one day: Is Christian able to come to the party? I tried a weak excuse but she caught me off guard and I ended up agreeing to bring him. Besides, Christian LOVES Batman, so I thought Why not?
Case and point:
We got to the party and as I looked around, I realized that Christian didn't know almost anyone. It had been over a year since Christian had seen or played with the Birthday Boy, and the only other person he'd known was a boy named Jason from his Mommy and Me class last year. Jason's Mom kind of unravels me in a not-so-good way. (Click here for the moment that immediately changed my relationship with her.) In a nut-shell, Jason's Mom terminated a pregnancy based on a Down syndrome diagnosis. No other extenuating circumstances, just the Ds. It's hard not to see it as a decision based in fear and ignorance. I try hard to see that each person is entitled to their "choice", but when the choice feels like it somehow invalidates my son's existence, it's hard. (Notice I said "feels like" and not that it "does" invalidate anything about him.) Anyway, ever since my conversation with Jason's Mom on the playground last year, she has become my biggest fan. She goes out of her way to say hello, is always very friendly and even recently suggested that we should get the boys together for a playdate. I "agreed", figuring I could blow it off without notice, since our boys aren't even in the same class. However, life keeps bringing us together. The day I was snack Mom last week, she was snack Mom for her son's class (right next door). We show up to the Batman party and there she is with her husband and 3 month old baby girl. In the course of talking with her, I found out that her 3 month old baby girl already weighs more than Elijah does at 7 months. Then, I watch as Christian acts like a weirdo through out the entire party. Hands in his mouth, anti-social behavior....sigh. He didn't really know anyone, but still...I wonder again about what's happening at preschool that I haven't witnessed. I'm not going to allow myself to stress ANYMORE about what's going on with Christian. It is pointless. I will follow up based on the parent-teacher conference I had, and then call it a day.
Each situation on it's own wasn't much at all, but by the time I got home from the Batman party today, I wanted to cry. And have. a little. I know my boys will be fine. Life won't be without challenges- it never is. Every once in awhile however, a little weight needs to be lifted and, for me, a good cry can do that. I haven't had a good cry about it all yet. Maybe the moment will pass and I won't get the full release, but even a "Kinda wanna cry" moment can alleviate enough of the emotion so that I can pick myself up, brush it off, and move onto the things that really need my attention....like the glass of wine and box of brownies that are calling my name...