31 July 2009
A few people have asked what they can do to help. I'm not really sure. We're still learning what works and what doesn't, too. This whole process, though, has made me much more patient, both with V and with other people's children. I used to be one of those annoying judge-y people when I saw a kid having a fit and the parents were reacting in a way I thought was wrong. I know now that "wrong" is so relative. When she has a meltdown, sometimes it helps V the most to be spoken to in whispers, so she can focus on what we're saying. Othertimes it's just a matter of getting out the door as fast as we can. And still other times, a stern "Stop" seems to provie the jolt she needs to come out of her rut. So what you can do most, I guess, is be patient with her and us, and know that she is not necessarily being naughty, but is overwhelmed. As are we...
Oh, and understand if we turn down invitations to plays or large-venue events, at least for a little while. The more notice we get for any kind of socializing, the better (though please don't stop inviting us).
In person, V's just like any other 3 year old. She obsesses over some things, loves to eat, dance, and tell made up jokes. When you see her, you won't notice she's got any kind of issue, in all likelihood. Unless the sun's out, or she's tired, or a motorcycle drives by.
In other news, today, we're thinking of making some homemade playdough. Anyone have a favorite recipe to recommend? I did a preliminary online search and found about 200 different ones: sheesh!
29 July 2009
As she got older, more verbal, she hollered about direct sunshine. It made her uncomfortable, sometimes to the point of screaming and writhing. So I gave her a shoebox to put her head into when we were in the car. She felt better, but I don't know if she can go to kindergarten with a box on her head. We've tried to replace the shoebox with sunglasses (which she abhors), bonnets, and stylish hats. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. If she's tired, or we're someplace new, bright light can push her over the edge.
Maybe I'm part vampire.
Anyway, then came potty training, which I quietly boasted about here. And here. It went well, and she quickly had it mastered. But the first time she used one of those self-flushing toilets in public, she jumped in the air, threw her hands over her ears, and burst into tears.
Then preschool started. It takes an only child who's been at home with her daddy all her life a little while to adjust, we figured. But she really didn't adjust. I mean, she's smart enough, and talked excitedly about her friends and teachers, and learned new things. But in the classroom, we quickly got the impression she was not anywhere near a star pupil. She struggled with transitions. A lot. She got upset when it was clean up time, and the lights were turned on and off over and over. She loved her new friends, but when she arrived in the morning and 5 or 6 of them would swarm her, she slowly backed away, albeit while smiling. She refused to listen to directions from her teacher, and instead of circle time, V liked to visit with one or two friends. During structured work time, instead of established works, V made up her own sorting games. She sometimes just wandered through the classroom singing the Star Wars theme at the top of lungs. We thought maybe she was just the weird kid. I mean, she's ours, after all. I don't know much about Shaun's family history, but the Johnson gene pool isn't exactly paved with gold. And as for the two of us? Well, Shaun loves Neil Diamond, KISS, professional wrestling, and milk. I love cemeteries, two dollar bills, Johnny Cash, and sideshow freaks. What did we expect to create? Besides, she's the only child we have. We don't know anything but what we've known with her. She defines normal, for us.
Then, in April, we decided to go to the circus. Now, I don't want to get into a debate about the ethics of the circus. I understand that animals are mistreated, and I am in no way pro-animal mistreatment. But that is not the point of this story.
So we were all excited to go to the circus. V had been on her best behavior, because she has an unnatural love of the Fargodome, where the circus was happening. We parked the car and the three of us walked in holding hands, a big pile of happy family. I had to run ahead to buy the tickets, because we don't so much plan ahead. I gave the nice lady $39 (kids 2 and over are full price. Those Shriners know how to get you), and by the time I found my beloveds, it was all over. Even before we entered the event proper, the screaming had commenced. And though we tried everything but the shoebox, she would not be consoled. She wrapped her arms and legs around her Daddy, buried her head in his beard, and begged to leave. We bought her a light saber and some cotton candy, but she wouldn't let go, clinging first to him, then to me. And then the motorcycles came in, and I could feel the terror fill her little body. We went home. As we drove away, Shaun and I agreed that we needed to see if she could get some help, or we could learn to help her. We didn't see any other three year olds sobbing uncontrollably at the circus, and our excited little moppet was worn clear out from fear, and we'd only been there seven minutes.
Through her preschool, we found a center who did an evaluation and is now providing us with weekly therapy. V's diagnosis is, basically, "failure to develop normal physiological responses." It's the kind of diagnosis kids with Asperger's syndrome get, and folks who have what's called Autism Spectrum Disorder. No one is saying she has either of those, exactly (at least not to us), but she exhibits some responses of that ilk. Sometimes severely so. And even though we've known much of this since she was born, it's still hard for me to see it written down. She is our angel straight from heaven. So what if she spins aruond in a tight circle for minutes at a time, or stands on her head several times a day, or plugs her ears and sings the Addam's Family Theme song to block out the sound of her teacher? She's our sweet sweet treasure, dammit.
She's been to therapy three times so far, and we're hopeful they can help our amazing, hilarious, beautiful girl shine through, so she need not be afraid, and need not hide from large parts of the world.
I'll try to keep you updated on this less cutesy part of our lives, if'n you're interested. Hopefully we'll see her doing better in all sorts of ways by the time school starts again in August. And if not, and you see V on the first day of school, be sure to say hello. She'll be the kid with the box on her head, singing KISS or Johnny Cash. Or the Addam's Family Theme.
27 July 2009
I miss him everyday.
26 July 2009
This is "posterize." I kinda like it.
Anyone know anything about GIMP? Is it worth reading the directions for? What do you think of my pop-art version of V?
23 July 2009
"Flamingo! No! Stop!" V is yelling at air.
"Who's Flamingo?" I ask.
"He's my friend."
"What does he look like?"
"Um. like an animal I know."
"Which animal?" I'm thinking I already know the answer.
"Like a moose. And a peacock. And maybe a cow." I was totally wrong.
"Yeah, he's throwing pillows. And I'm not going to play with him. Any. More."
At least someone in this family is a disciplinarian.
21 July 2009
20 July 2009
Frozen strawberries + fresh blueberries+half a fresh pineapple +2 Tablespoons Coconut Cream.
Rum is optional. Jumbo straw is mandatory.
18 July 2009
It's such a massive surgery, and there are so many possible complications, and getting healthy donor lungs took such a long, long time. But since he was four years old (when he was diagnosed), Deron's been fighting cystic fibrosis valiantly, and in my heart I feel such relief. If anyone can recover from such a surgery, my cousin can.
Today, I will pray often (though it is not my practice anymore), thankful to the donor family, hopeful for Deron's speedy recovery, and holding my own child while I think of Deron's twin boys, who are old enough to remember today, now, and what a memory it will be for them. I will also smile often today, thinking of the joy my Aunt Sharon and Cousin Dawn and her family must be sharing in Iowa.
I hope they know just how many people are rejoicing with them today.
15 July 2009
14 July 2009
Maybe it's the newness of her, seeing her teeter on that cusp between baby and toddlerhood, as she wants so much to walk RIGHT NOW but instead scoots across the floor faster than we can fathom. Or the words that pour out of her, sounds and garbled sing songs, and "happy" or "puppy," whichever, both.
Emmy's real birthday is 10 July. The photos are from her party on Lake Minnie Belle. Or is it Minnie Belle Lake? I dunno. Anyway, I didn't want anyone thinking I didn't know my own niece's birthdate.
12 July 2009
I know you all understand this. My thoughtful readers would certainly title their papers, wouldn't you? To show how much I appreciate this, I bring you today's offering of photos with titles. I hope they're better than "Another Picture by Jen," but I'm not making any promises.
08 July 2009
02 July 2009
But then I go online. In our local paper, my neighbors write comments of such nastiness, hiding behind usernames and bravely, aggressively yelling at one another, that I can barely stand it. Now, I live with a contrary man, so opposing opinions do not really phase me. But these people write things so full of vitriol and hatred and racism that it makes me want to cry. And I remember again why I shut everyone I didn't know already out in the first place.
So I have to stop reading the comments. And I wish the Forum would not allow comments on some stories. But I do know people have a right to free speech, and I'm a proponent of it. I just don't want to read that kind of awfulness. It makes my heart sad to see that much ignorance, that much willingness to be cruel, in words anyway.
I gotta go find me a slot machine.