The Imperfect Child

September is tough.  It is all about transition and transition is tough.  Summer is fabulous.  Lazy hot days, no true schedule, and no real obligations.  Just lots of social activities and fun, fun, fun.  And then it’s over. And suddenly, lunches need to be packed, clothes set out, schedules kept. And every member of the family is stressed out because each is going through his or her own transition.  And that makes it hard.

So, this we know.  But, what made September even harder this year was that we had B’s 4 year pediatrician appointment (2 months late) in the midsts of all of this mayhem. And it stressed me the frick out.

Unfortunately, B was unable to see his smart, amazing and wonderful doctor this time around.  Instead, he saw a new nurse practitioner that I did not know and therefore did not trust.  When I brought out my list of concerns, she immediately started naming phycological disorders and freaking me the hell out.  Eventually, the suggestion was to contact a local hospital to have him evaluated due to his sensory issues as well as his speech issues.

So that was my week: calling this one and that one.  Trying to make one appointment of the other. Asking the advice of family, friends, neighbors, strangers. FREAKING OUT. What about?  Was this a shock that he has speech and sensory issues? Did he not freak out at Seasame Street Live?  Does he not dive for cover during fireworks? And take a year and a half to potty train? And stick fluff up his nose? And suck his fingers? And…oh my God, this kid has ISSUES.

So part of it was this: I spent 15 years as a public school educator attending IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meetings and sitting on the opposite side of the table from these parents who always looked lost or scared or concerned or angry. And I would feel these surges of empathy thinking: I will someday be a parent.  And when I am, I hope I am not going to have to sit on the opposite side of the table and be lost or scared or concerned or angry. But what if I am…

And now this.  The beginning.  And it may turn out to be fine.  But I think that more likely, he will end up on an IEP and I will be that parent. And I perseverated over that all week. And everything that he did, I thought: sensory.  Look. He’s gritting his teeth again.  He’s stamping his feet. He’s so flipping loud.  And I might have even resented him for some of it. Because I began looking at him differently.  Not as my first child that, of course, was perfect in absolutely every way. But as this child who had issues. Who ran lopsided. Who got way too overexcited when the baby did something funny. And then I hated myself for feeling that way.

So after the nuttiness of the week died down and the weekend finally arrived, I took some time to forget about all the appointments that I need to make and just focus on enjoying my family.  Part of that was to go on a playdate. B and I met one of his preschool friends and his mom at a local farm that had all sorts of fun attractions. The boys loved all of the activities and I enjoyed watching B interact with his friend and all of the people and animals on the farm. After checking out all of the activities, B’s friend and his mom headed home for a birthday party while B and I stopped at the farm’s ice cream shop and chatted while he watched with excitement as a model train ran around a track that wrapped the perimeter of the room near the ceiling.  Driving home, he requested the radio and that is when I had time to reflect.

The child I observed today is sweet.  He is polite.  He says, “please” and “thank you” and “how was your day” and he is just four and should be rather self centered.  He is fun-loving. He loves to jump and climb and race pedal cars around a track. He loves duck races and pumpkin patches and soft floppy eared bunnies and stupid silly goats. He is a good listener and he listens and respects what adults say. And he is so curious about the world that when someone says, “If you have any questions, let me know,” his hand instantly goes up.  Even if he hasn’t been able to formulate a question yet.

And this child is my perfect first born. And he is not perfect. I am not perfect and neither is his father. All of us are far from it. But if he has some sensory issues, we will simply address them and help him thorough them. And if he ends up on an IEP, I will sit confidently on the opposite side of that table.  And maybe I will be confused, or scared, or concerned, or angry.  But I will be an advocate for my child and do anything in my power to get him the help that he needs and to realize that, at no point, do these issues define who he is, or who I am as a mother. These are stumbling blocks that we will work through and be so proud to know that at the end of the day, B is a sweet, active, curious child who lives life to the fullest and loves as hard as he possibly can.

And with every inch of who I am, I am so damn proud of the positively imperfect person he has become.

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