Category: Graham

Six

December 22, 2010

On November 28th, Graham turned six.  Six??  It seems that just in the last six months or so, he has shot up and started looking like a bona fide boy.  His build is exactly like that of my brothers who are 6’4″ and 6’1″ and slim.  He looks less like the baby he was and more like the boy he will become.  I’m not sure I’m ready for that.  (See his right ear?  How it sticks out just a bit?  My brother Michael has been saying, since he was a baby, that girls will go crazy over that ear.)

Life with Graham has felt different in the time that he has become a big boy.  He is more defiant – something he has never ever been.  He is still incredibly compliant and eager to please, but we are getting more attitude.  Considering he is still just about the happiest person I have met, that he still has never had a melt-down that lasted longer than 10 seconds, and that in the past 10 days he has lived through stomach flu, an ear infection severe enough to puncture an eardrum (without ever telling us his ear hurt), and a pneumonia diagnosis with a smile on his face all the while, I think we are due a little attitude.

We have so much to be thankful for and so much to be proud of.  Graham is thriving in kindergarten.  Randy and I could not have dared hope for the success he is having.  Because he often struggles with things that other kids seem to grasp effortlessly, we kind of thought that school – the reading, writing, math – would be hard for him.  In fact, according to his teacher, his resource room teacher, and his report card (!), he is right on track, even for the typical kids in the class.  And he is excelling in some areas.  True to his nature, those areas are “works well on a team” and “respectful and kind to others”.  He is starting to read and to do addition and subtraction.  It is incredible to see him do so well.  And perhaps most importantly, he is loving school.  He loves the kids, he loves going to the library and checking out books and he loves loves loves Mr. Roberts, the P.E. teacher.

To have him do so well in school and yet still be the child who can drive me to distraction by not understanding the difference between his birthday party day and his actual birthday day, or who cannot comprehend that is is not night time even though it is dark, is a continual source of frustration for me.  I tend to hear the same question over and over again, or respond to a question only to have him say the exact opposite.  Every conversation I have with him, every request I make of him, I can feel myself gathering my patience, steeling myself, because so much of what I say he doesn’t get.  He hears me – his hearing is fine – he just doesn’t process what I say in the same way that a typically developing child would.  Often I feel that he still needs so much from me and that sometimes makes me want to bang my head against the wall.

And there in, once again, lies the problem.  Me.  I feel like my patience is constantly at the breaking point and my tolerance for the noise level of these two oh-so-very-noisy boys is constantly low.  Is this Graham’s problem?  Of course not.  He is doing the very best he can, just as he always has.  It is not his fault that he doesn’t process language the way that, say, his brother does.  If anything, he is trying extra hard, being a child who is so eager to please.  I have spent so much time thinking about my reactions to him and even writing about them here on this blog, and I feel like I am doing worse with him rather than better.  It is a terrible way to feel.

Of course, I know I am a good mother.  I tell him regularly how wonderful he is.  I tell him how proud I am at least ten times a day.  I applaud his efforts in school and cheer him on when he tells a mean kid, “I don’t like that!”.  I kiss and hug him and hold him and I read to him and feed him healthy snacks.  I beam with pride when he tells the grocery check-out person to be careful with the eggs because they are fragile, and then praises her with a heartfelt, “Good job!” once they are in the bag.  I feel so very fortunate to have such a nice and delightful child filled with kindness, someone who adults beam at as he yells hello to them and introduces himself as Graham Cracker.  I take him places and I try very hard to bite my tongue when he loses yet another jacket or says something that makes absolutely no sense.  But I get in bed each night and feel guilty about how I have not really stuck to my guns and tried to be patient.  And I have yelled – a thing I promised myself, in my days before kids – that I would never do.

It’s not that I want a mother of the year award.  I certainly don’t want a different child.  I think what I really want is to raise a child who is kind, self-confident, and generous.  A child who gives back to the world, forms bonds and friendships with all different people, and I can definitely see that Graham, already at age six, is that kind of person.  This past spring, I attended an amazing birthday party where the birthday girl asked each of us to submit our favorite poem.  Her sister’s choice is the one you will see below.  I cry every time I read it.  I want to be that mother.  The one who inspires a poem as beautiful and moving as this one.

The Lanyard
by Billy Collins

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly-
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a box
red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift – not the worn truth

that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.



Kindergarten

September 9, 2010

Yesterday was a big one in our house.  It was Graham’s first day of kindergarten.

When he was an infant, I actually imagined this day.  At that time, I could not ever see myself being apart from him for a whole day.  I could not imagine a day when I would put him on a bus and into the care of a bus driver, a teacher, and school children – all of whom would be strangers.  I could not believe he would ever be a big boy because, as we all know, it is big boys (and girls) who go to kindergarten.

Having children is complicated.  You don’t go from those confusing and highly emotional days of your child being an infant to getting on the school bus at age 5¾ overnight.  There are many transitions, many milestones, many ups and downs, and in our case, another child added to the family along the way.  There are babysitters, play groups, and preschools that prepare you for the separation and for the school journey.  There are also things like the terrible two’s or three’s or even four’s which make it very clear that having your child in the care of someone else might be a very good thing for a time.

This is not Graham’s first time getting on a school bus.  He spent all last year in an afternoon developmental preschool and came home four days a week on a bus.  I walked through the halls of a real live public school (as opposed to his regular little kid preschool) with him on those days trying to stay out of the way of the 5th graders running out the door for recess.  I got a real taste for what kindergarten would be for him.

So, I figured I was ready.  I didn’t think that I would be an emotional wreck sending him off on his first day.  Because he is such an easygoing child, I knew that he would have a relatively easy time with this next step in his life.  He did say to me, “I might be a little bit scared so I will give you a hug”, which very nearly broke my heart.  When the time came and the little bus came barreling down our street, chaos overtook emotion.  It was pouring down rain and I was trying to keep both Spencer and Graham dry with one umbrella.  I had to muscle myself, Graham, Spencer, and the umbrella on the bus conscious all the while of the long line of cars waiting for us to do so.  I was too fixated on getting Graham’s ancient seatbelt buckled and keeping Spencer from jumping on the seats to feel emotional.  For his part, Graham was so thrilled that the kid across the aisle from him had the same Spiderman backpack! that he just waved me off.  Once off the bus, we gave a quick wave and then headed around our to our car so I could drive Spencer to school.

Dropping my younger son off, same preschool but different classroom, is where I started to feel the tingle in my nose and the pressure in my throat.  Spencer is my less snuggly child but he likes a big hug before I leave him there.  He, more than Graham, seemed to sense a change.  That his days of the extremely nuturing Green Room had given way to the greater expectations of the Orange Room and he was reluctant to let me go.

The tears actually came once home and while sorting through their clothes.  I was pulling tags off their new things and sorting through the things that no longer fit.  Graham’s size 5T things made their way to rest a year in Spencer’s closet while Spencer’s 3T things went into a bag for a friend.  I pulled out a certain shirt, nothing special – just blue with white stripes – and that was when I started crying.  I swear it was yesterday that we bought that shirt for Graham.  We were in Sun Valley with my family.  There was a great sale at one of the kids’ clothing stores and we bought it for him even though it was the size that he was almost growing out of, and it was short sleeved, and the summer was ending.  I was pregnant at the time, about to find out the sex of that second baby and I thought, “Maybe it will be a boy and he can wear this shirt even if Graham never gets a chance to before cold weather sets in.”

Graham did wear that shirt a few times and I did have another boy who did wear that shirt and now that shirt is too small.  I wasn’t crying just in a “where did the time go?” kind of way but in a “while I have been yelling at my kids to put their shoes on and hustling them out the door and rushing from place to place and not taking them to the park enough and threatening them with no dessert if they don’t finish their dinner, they have outgrown this shirt” kind of way.

Every mother I know feels some degree of this failing.  Having children is difficult, draining.  Joyful of course too.  I am forever trying to be more present in the joy than in the challenges.  I could go on and on in this post talking about the unique challenges that Graham presents but instead I will tell you that I am very proud of him.  He had a wonderful first day.  He ate all of his lunch, he loved the bus, he played basketball at recess, and he went to bed early.

(All three boys in their “Daddy shirts”.)



All Aboard the Kindergarten Train

March 3, 2010

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(This is a post about my older son Graham.  I have written about him before both here and here.)

The kindergarten train will be leaving the station in the fall and we are trying to figure out how best to get on.  The rules, boundaries, and schools have all changed just this year in our neighborhood of Seattle.  A year ago we could have applied Graham to at least 4 public schools close to us and, if he had been accepted at any of them, the district would have bussed him there.  Our fair city is trying to implement a new plan in which children go to their neighborhood school instead of having multiple options.  I definitely agree with this philosophy.  Why have neighborhood schools at all if the kids are going to be bussed elsewhere?  It is a waste of time, resources, and gas.  But.  What if your “neighborhood” or “reference” school doesn’t actually exist?

This is the conundrum that we face.  Our school is called McDonald and it will not actually be a school until the day after Labor Day.  It is being created as I type.  Not only that, this as yet non-existent school will be housed in a temporary location until the current location (which is a short walk from our house) has been renovated.  In two years.

If I had just a regular old kid, this situation would make me a little nervous.  Kindergarten is huge.  Going to a technically non-existent school ups the anxiety.  Where are the teachers going to come from?  Who is going to be the principal?  Add into the mix that our child has some special needs and I am consumed by thoughts of kindergarten.  Will my child really get the services that he has rights to by law?  I have become that mom.  Well, not entirely.  I’m not going to meetings or writing letters to the governor.  I’m just worrying about Graham.

So, we’ve done some homework.  We’ve looked into several private schools – none of which seemed right – and we have asked a lot of questions about the public options.  Basically, there are three. One is to just go to McDonald.  One is to apply to our “option” school which is an alternative school and if he gets in, he would get bussed there.  The third option is that he will, as a special needs student, automatically get applied to a very special place called the EEU.  This is a mixed classroom of special needs and typically developing children and it has a tremendous reputation.  Acceptance is by lottery.  Seeing as there are ten slots for over 200 children, we are not holding our breath.  Plus, the EEU is kindergarten only, so we would be facing this whole problem again in a year anyway.

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This is where it is a blessing to be a mellow person.  Given the choice between worrying and not worrying, I usually choose not.  Especially about things that are still off in the future and over which I have little control.  I do keep reminding myself that we are not locking in to a school until the end of time.  If we make a mistake, we can always correct it.  We have been on top of his issues since he was about 22 months old.  We will not let him slip through the cracks.

Some very good news that I can share is that during a teacher conference at the end of January, Graham’s developmental preschool teacher says that he is doing really well.  So well, in fact, that she without question recommends that he attend a “regular” kindergarten.  There are special programs in a few schools around the city which are known as “transitional” kindergarten classes.  They are for children who are technically old enough but not ready enough to join their peers.  At the end of a year, they either go on to first grade or they go to a regular kindergarten.  His teacher thinks that is not the place for him.  That with the services he is entitled to, he can function, and perhaps even thrive, in a regular class.

(I cannot tell you how amazing it is to sit before your child’s teacher and his speech therapist and to have them tell you, several different times, what a nice kid – what a great kid – you have.  To hear the hope and certainty in their voices.  To know that there are two more people rooting for him.)

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More good news is that Graham learned to ski.  I wondered about this.  He is kind a timid kid and his biggest challenge is with receptive language.  His hearing is fine but he doesn’t process language the same way you and I do.  He does best if someone is right on his level talking to him.  So, I wasn’t sure how ski lessons were going to go.  We considered doing private lessons for him but they were prohibitively expensive.  Thankfully, the week we were in Sun Valley things were very quiet.  We signed him up for group lessons for two days and he had the teacher all to himself.  He went on the chairlift and was full on going down the mountain in snow-plow form in 2½ days.

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Before the holidays, a teacher in Graham’s other preschool pulled me aside.  She brought out this drawing that Graham had done.  She told me she was looking at a ruler with him and that he wanted to draw it.  Graham has always been fascinated by letters and has known his alphabet for a long time.  He has been able to write his name for over a year.  But, while he knows his numbers, I’ve never seen him write them.  She told me she watched as he traced the ruler and then carefully copied down what he saw.

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If you have read my earlier posts about Graham, I probably don’t have to tell you that tears came to my eyes when I saw this ruler.  Only some of the numbers are backwards and he fit them all on.  Sometimes I wonder what is going on in that little head of his.  I wonder what is going in and what is sticking.  I wonder why he can’t seem to grasp very simple concepts and yet can write numbers from one to twelve (and beyond) on his first shot.  I think about all the millions of things that he needs to learn before he is launched out into the world.  I worry how he can go to college if he can’t learn to tie his shoes.  Or he can never make sense of the concept of brother and sister and he calls most women “him”.

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But this ruler.  He just looked at it and it all clicked.  I was reminded that, during his testing, he was able to identify numbers that he had never seen before.  They asked him to find “84″ and I watched his face as he scanned his choices and mouthed “eight four” and chose correctly.  I never taught him that.  At that point, he couldn’t count past 20.  These amazing things he does from time to time give me so much hope.  We drove by a small museum in Seattle the other day and he said, “Remember – we got pictures there.”  Yes, we did some family photos with a friend who is a photographer and we parked right in front of that museum.  We did those photos for Spencer’s first birthday.  That was two years ago.  He not only remembered something that happened when he was barely three years old – he knew exactly where it happened and recognized it.

And one more thing.  When he was done carefully filling in all the numbers on the ruler, he told his teacher he thought it looked like a whale, so he filled in the fins.  Kindergarten, we’ll see you in September.



Update on Graham

November 4, 2009

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A few months ago, I wrote a post about my son Graham.  I was blown away by the response I got and the lovely supportive comments and emails that followed.  At the end of that post, I mentioned that we were waiting on the Seattle school system, waiting to see whether a) doing the right thing for our children or  b) bureaucracy would win out.  I’m happy to tell you that this one went to the good guys (and gals).

About a week before the developmental preschool program was set to start, I got a call from a woman who told me she would be Graham’s teacher.  We set up a meeting at his new school and were introduced to his teacher, the room assistant, the speech therapist, and the director of the entire program.  We agreed on an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) for him with goals for the next few months.  We were assured that the (now updated) results of his testing will follow him for the next three years, so his status as a student with special needs does not change as we approach next fall and the utter confusion that is kindergarten in North Seattle.  We were assured that they would help us navigate those waters.

Graham’s new schedule started on September 21st.  He goes to school from 1-3:30 four days a week and also continues to go to his old prechool 9-12:30 three mornings a week.  On Monday and Tuesday, he is essentially in school from 9am-4pm.  This is a lot of a yet-to-be five year old who was still taking a 2-3 hour nap almost everyday up until the schedule change.  The first few days, when I got on the little school bus to help him off, he was totally passed out.  Evenings became really tough for him as the exhaustion set in.  We re-organized.  We set his bedtime much earlier – the same as his younger brother – and things improved.  Now he seems to be adapting to his new schedule.  And he is very happy at his new school.

Graham comes home singing songs I have never heard before and talking about parts of his day without prompting from me.  He brings home art projects he is extremely proud of and he finally – finally – potty trained.  I was starting to wonder if he was going to go off to college in diapers when his new teacher suggested that we tell him the rule at the new school was underwear only.  Within four days he was completely trained with not an accident since.  It was yet another lesson for me in not underestimating the wonder that is Graham.  When the light switch turns on it is on.

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Our new routine is as follows.   I pick up the boys at morning preschool, drive to the “new school” which is, thankfully, only a few blocks away.  I park the car, gather up the boys, and then we begin one of the sweetest 1 block walks I will ever know in my life.  Yes, it involves shivering and/or getting soaked these days, but to hold two little boys’ hands – one of them wearing a backpack almost as big as he is – as we approach a real live big boy school…  It’s almost more than I can handle.  Nostalgia for what will not be someday overtakes me and I sometimes just have to stop and watch them.  I know it’s just the blink of an eye before they will stop holding my hand and then just another blink before they don’t want to talk to me at all.

Graham turns five years old at the end of this month.  I had thought about writing this post in honor of his birthday but I had an experience while at Jen’s yoga retreat a couple of weeks ago.  Not to sound too woo-woo on you here, but I always dedicate my yoga practice to Graham.  Some yoga teachers will invite you to set an intention at the beginning of a class and it is always his beautiful face I see at that time.  No thoughts, just his face, and the hope that my practice will send some extra energy his way.  He is my intention, my dedication.  Just like every time I catch the clock at 11:11 or I throw a penny into a fountain, I think of him – wish something for him.

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In Jen’s peaceful serene yoga room, I poured out stress and toxins with my breath and my sweat.  At the end of two hours, I felt utterly spent and exhausted in the best kind of cleansing way and laid happily on my mat for shivansana.  In the first few moments of that rest, Jen turned on some of the music from The Mission – that glorious, heart-stirringly beautiful piece of music that can bring tears to my eyes even when I am not feeling overly emotional or exhausted.  And in a moment, I had tears streaming down my face, mingling with the already drying sweat from the class.  In that moment, the following thought came to my mind – almost as if someone had whispered it in my ear or I had seen it written on a blackboard – “Why Can’t It Be Enough?

The day before I had spent the morning with Graham.  He had a very low grade fever, with no other symptoms, and I decided to keep him home from school.  I still had errands to run and he happily came along with me.  Before we went to pick up his brother, I took him to lunch at one of his favorite spots.  We were sitting there, waiting for our lunch, and I was over-conscious of the fact that we weren’t talking.  It’s not as though we were silent, but there was very little back and forth conversation as there would be with a typical child of his age.  I wanted that, the flow of conversation, so badly.  I asked him questions on topics where answers could come easily for him, and I would get my one or two word answer, then – quiet.   I just kept running my hands along the baby-soft skin of his cheek, or bringing my face to the top of his head for a kiss and inhaling the intoxicating smell of clean little boy hair.  I told him I loved him.  I told him I was proud of him.  He kept looking at me and smiling, unaware that I was longing for more.

In my shivasana moment, I saw that scene again with new eyes.  And therein lies the question – “Why Can’t It Be Enough?“  Why can’t who and where he is right now be enough?  Why must I always notice who and where he is not?  This is not new territory – it is my biggest challenge with him.  And what I really mean by that is the challenge with myself.  Choosing to celebrate all the many varied things that makes him wonderful instead of pointing out (in my own mind) all the ways he is not like his friends is just that.  A choice.  And here is where a mom in a movie would suddenly change her entire her attitude and embrace her child wholeheartedly.  Everything would change and happiness would prevail until the credits rolled.

Obviously, this is not a movie and life is more complicated.  I am not one of those people who can wish something and just make it so.  I wish I was more peaceful about having a child with special needs and I work hard at it every day.  Sometimes I am so thankful for him that I can hardly believe my luck.  I watch a child on his preschool playground haul off and hit another child and I wonder, “Is that what I want?  A typically developing bully?”  Of course not.  I’ll take my speech and cognitively delayed sweetheart any day of the week.  My baby who thinks life is nothing but fun and happiness  – as every almost-five-year-old should.  My baby who who touches people’s lives.  When he leaves morning preschool, there is a chorus of “Goodbye Graham!” from kids and teachers alike.  Sometimes I can’t help but wonder what lesson I am being taught by the challenges he brings.  I struggle.  But lately I keep coming back to that big question and it makes my vision blur every time.

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(I love this picture of him.  It is pure Graham.  Smiling and in motion.)

I don’t have an answer here and I certainly don’t have any advice.  This will be my journey with my older son.  My journey with Spencer will be different.  Randy asked me if I ever make a wish for Spencer or dedicate my practice to him.  Nope.  That boy will present other challenges but he does not need my yoga energy right now.  Every parent travels down a path with a child.  Sometimes that path is clear and easy and sometimes it is twisted and complicated.

When we first settled into speech and classroom therapy with Graham, about three years ago, his teacher handed out an essay that a woman with a special needs child had written.  It’s called Welcome to Holland and it compares awaiting the birth of a child to planning a trip to Italy.  You buy your tickets, you book your hotel, you anticipate the food you are going to eat, the sights you will see, the people you will meet.  On the flight to your long-awaited destination, the flight attendants tell you to prepare for the landing in Holland.  Holland?  Windmills, canals, wooden shoes – what?  At first you are floored by this change in your itinerary – your entire world is thrown off.  Your arrival takes a huge adjustment.  This is not at all what you signed up for.  And then, slowly but surely, you do learn to adjust.  There are wonders to behold in Holland.  It is different than Italy but it isn’t any less special.

I never thought I had expectations for my children.  I would be fine with them being a railroad engineer or a physicist.  They could go Ivy League or state school, or no college at all.  They could be an athelete like their dad or a thespian like their mom.  I guess I just always assumed they would be “normal” and I think that is why I got Graham.  My favorite comment from my last post about him actually came from the director of his morning preschool, herself the mother of a child with special needs.  I’m paraphrasing here, but she said that these children come to us not necessarily to teach us a lesson or because we can handle them or we “deserve” them.  They come to us because we as parents are strong and we can advocate for them.  They need us to fight for them.  I hold onto that thought everyday because it is such a strong and powerful way to think about life with Graham.  I got him because he needs me and because I am lucky.



Time to Talk About Graham

August 5, 2009

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This is my sweet boy.  I have referred to him here endlessly as “my older son”.  When I started this blog, it felt weird to me to share too much about things other than food.  I didn’t think I would post pictures of my boys and I certainly didn’t think I would put their names out there.  But over the year plus that I have been faithfully writing here, this blog has become so much more than food.  My blog is more of a journal than any of my handwritten journals have been.  And so, his name is Graham, and it’s time for me to talk about him.

There are many many wonderful things about this child.  He has an incredibly gentle and sweet disposition and he is one of the happiest people I have ever met.  Joy is everywhere in his life.  He is enthusiastic about almost everything.  He loves people and people love him (this is the kid who hugged Dave Matthews, let’s not forget.)  He has been a very easy kid.  Good eater, good sleeper, rarely gets sick, at the age of 4 1/2 has still never had a temper tantrum, is nice to his brother, transitions easily…I could go on and on.  He is, in short, a gift.

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For the past few years, we have also known that something is not quite right with Graham.  He didn’t say a single word until he was over two years old (in keeping with his personality, that word was “hi”) and ever since then, he has been extremely slow to talk.  At first, we listened to endless stories from friends and acquaintances who told us of children who were late talkers and who finally just bloomed.  I can’t tell you how many times someone told me, “Einstein didn’t talk until he was 5!”.  I took comfort in all of this, insisting to myself and others that my child was perfect and that he would find his way in his own time.

Eventually, it became clear that he wasn’t just not speaking words, he was not understanding them either.  Not as well as he should have been.  This realization is what finally got me off my butt and got him into some testing.  I won’t bore you with the steps and missteps that that entailed.  Eventually, we ended up at a truly incredible place called The Boyer Children’s Clinic, a birth-3 years program for children with special needs.  Graham blossomed in his own way there and when he turned 3, we sent him to a preschool for typical children on the advice of the Seattle school system.  He has been at this wonderful school and in private speech therapy ever since.

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So why now?  Why talk about Graham now?  July was a big month for us.  He had testing done through the Seattle school system and also did a broad scope test through an agency called the Center for Human Development and Disability (CHDD).  We wanted to know whether there is officially something wrong.  Something we can attach a name to, something we could research endlessly online, something that we might be able to “treat”.  After being shown incredible kindness, respect, and compassion by those lovely people, we learned that Graham has what we have essentially known all along – a speech and cognitive delay.  No syndrome or disorder, just an unexplained delay.  We don’t know why.  We don’t know if it’s something he will outgrow.  We don’t know how much help he is going to need in the years ahead.  We don’t know how to “treat” him or if there is any possible “treatment”.

The timing here was a little tricky and I won’t bore you with what happened when.  The short version is that we got the results from the school system first.  According to their tests, Graham only qualified for speech therapy, meaning that he should stay at his preschool and the public school system would provide therapy for him.  I was relieved but also surprised.  I can see how far Graham is behind his peers.  I was not sure the itinerant speech therapist assigned to him was going to help him catch up enough to be ready for kindergarten in just one short year.

Then we got our results from the CHDD test.  They told us that they, without hesitation, recommended he attend a special school.  He had some strong areas, some average areas, and some areas where he was barely in the 10th percentile.  But basically we were told – in no uncertain terms – that our child needs help.  I have to say, my heart broke a little bit at that moment.  And in the next moment, real relief flooded me.  “Yes,” I thought.  “Yes, they are right – he does need the help.  And they will help us get it for him.”  Now we are in a full court press to get him what he needs in time for the school year to start.  This is when having a husband who is incredibly tenacious is a huge blessing.  He will keep after these people until we get the answers we want.

Now, I don’t for a minute lose sight of who I have in my life.  First of all, I have a child – two children actually – and we know people who have tried unsuccessfully to have any.  I have a healthy child and we know two children his age who have battled cancer and one who died of SIDS at the age of 8 weeks.  I have friends who share with me the difficulties and struggles of having typical children.  Being a parent is not easy, they tell me, no matter how “normal” your child is.  I know.  I know.  I know.  I do really and truly know how lucky I am.

This is a child who, when I was apologizing to him for waking him up early from a nap said to me, “It’s ok, Mommy.  Take a deep breath.”  This is a child who offers snacks from his snack drawer to any child who comes over to play, even if he has never seen them before.  This is a child who tells me, “I so excited” several times a day – when we are going to the park, visiting his best friend Kendall, going to get ice cream, waiting for Daddy to come home.  This is a child who, every time he sees the “Hope” poster yells out, “Barack Obama!”  Special does not begin to describe him.  This is a child who endured hours and hours of testing, most of which required him to sit still and concentrate, with a smile on his face and enthusiasm.  Every single therapist who came into contact with him called him charming, delightful, lovely – it’s written all over the reports.  This is a child who has an absolutely incredible memory, sense of direction, and mind for puzzles.  But I worry for him.  I worry that kids will make fun of him.  I worry that he will struggle and that things will not be easy for him.  I also know probably every parent has these same worries, regardless of who their child is.

I know that things seem easy and breezy here at Dana Treat.  And usually, they are.  I have a wonderful life.  I love writing about food and sharing recipes with all of you.  But I have been sad about all of this lately and just continuing to be easy and breezy was not feeling authentic.  Not to worry.  With the next post I will return you to your regularly scheduled programming.  Thanks for listening, er, reading.



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