March 2002 page 2 of 2
Saturday 16 March

The morning was more of the same, only this time Daddy was the lap du jour. But around mid afternoon, he perked up. Ended up having some really good play session time with Dan. Damian donned his hardhat, asked for his toolbelt, and declared himself a construction worker. He sawed at the kitchen counter, he used the power saw to cut down Mommy Tree and Daddy Tree, he built some Lincoln Log houses and used the power saw to destroy them. Then he switched hats (literally) and became a firefighter; he put out the fire on the Daddy Building and rescued some of his Little People dolls.

He's asking a lot of questions these days. He doesn't exactly say "what is it?", though. He says something more like, "it is" and wants you to tell him. Same idea, though. Sometimes he'll ask something and then answer it himself. Just like we've modelled. <sigh> (We were trying to teach him to ask, not to ask and answer.)

Tonight we had a meltdown at bedtime. Partly tiredness, I'm sure, but we were trying to challenge his rigidity. He insists on help with his socks. He insists on only using one hand, not two. He insists I get his juice from the nightstand (and if he gets it himself and realizes that, he will put it right back and demand I do it). He insists on doing things in a certain order and in a certain way. It's important to challenge, though it's anything but fun. I ended up "helping" him get the juice himself (holding him while he reached to get it). A compromise.

Tuesday 19 March

He was somewhat better Sunday but had a serious relapse yesterday. Spent yesterday and today, once again, whiny and on my lap. Insisted on having his feet rubbed, insisted that my other arm be wrapped around him, cocoon-like. I'm not a contortionist, though, so I balked after a few hours of this. He was not pleased.

At one point this afternoon, he was watching a Discovery Channel animal show. Some woodchuck/prairie dog like creatures (kapybaras?) were onscreen. I wasn't paying attention. I heard an onscreen bark. Suddenly Damian laughed. I looked over: two critters were rearing up, battling each other, barking. He laughed again and said, "That's silly!"

Thursday 21 March

First day back at school. He seemed back to his usual self yesterday afternoon -- wearing me out wanting to play, tell you the truth -- so I was optimistic. But the report was that he was lethargic in class. And his new floor timer (Callie) had him briefly before Robin showed up, and she reported that he seemed low energy, low affect. Robin said that she had to rev him up but then they did have a good time. Closed 40 circles in a row during a pretend hike around the grass yard.

When I got there, I saw a boy who was alert and playing, but who was harder to reach than usual, less responsive. It became clear he was tired. Whether he's still sick remains to be seen.

I'm concerned about Callie. She's supposed to have her first full-on session with him tomorrow; she shadowed a session with Kahuna last week and seemed fairly on the ball, but today she came into the sand yard as I was pushing Damian on a merry-go-round. He was ordering me to "Push me fast a lot of times!" She told him to say please. Huh? And then when he didn't, she pushed the point. I was dismayed. This is *not* floor time, nor is it right to push yourself in like that when you haven't established a relationship with the kid in question. I told her later that it's important to not be pushy with Damian, that it's far better to be really Greenspanny in your approach, really follow his lead. I have no idea if she understood. I'm going to watch like a hawk and take swift action if I see more pushiness. He needs supportive playmates, not directive teachers.

He was a pain in the butt getting out of school. I had to carry him, which I make a policy not to do (because if I do it once, he wants it all the time). He didn't fall asleep in the car, but did fall asleep mid afternoon -- after being a real pill for hours. Was in a great mood after that. But he's become so bossy lately, so demanding, and so unwilling to do things for himself -- Mommy MUST be on hand at all times, Mommy MUST pick him up to put him in my lap, etc. Enough. I'm putting my foot down. I should find a way to negotiate, I know that (closing circles and all that, also teaching him how to be more flexible), but sometimes I just say no and walk away. With predictable results. <sigh>

He put together a puzzle -- it's a set of two and three piece vehicle puzzles against a bucolic background (mountains, country roads, etc). Then he said "The puzzle is pretending." What was the puzzle pretending to be? "A map." And then he said "I'm going to tell a story," and started to tell the story of the various vehicles on the map: a fire truck going to put out a fire, a boat going through a tunnel, a cement mixer pouring concrete to make a road. What's going to drive on the road? The cement mixer, of course.

Monday 25 March

Can't catch up. Won't try. A few moments from the past few days:

Damian, having a hissy fit wanting me to pick him up and put him in my lap (when he's just sat down a foot away to make sure I have to work for it). While he was sick, I did carry him a bit but made it clear it was only because he was sick and that I'd stop once he got better. So now I say "Sure, you can sit in my lap. Come on over." He insists I pick him up. I stay pleasant but firm. He realizes this is not working, tries a new tack: he says, "I'm sick. I'm very very sick." His first lie!

I made a stand Saturday at brunch about not sitting on laps at the dining table. Damian ended up leaving the table in tears, unfed. Dan was understandably dismayed. But you know? Damian sat down at the dining table for lunch on Sunday calm as you please. "I'm sitting in my own chair," he announced, very proud of himself. I told him he made me very happy.

He's been interested in the whole baby thing lately, so a few days ago I pulled out a photo album, which starts with a photo of me very pregnant. He loved that. Loved the whole thing, actually. So when Diane was over yesterday (she's about 7 months pregnant), I showed Damian her belly. I told him "There's a baby inside, just like when you were in my belly." He didn't say anything, but then today we were outside on the front steps. He said, "I'm pretending my tummy is big." And sure enough, he was puffing out his abdomen. He added the rest: "I'm pretending someone is in there. A little baby." And then soon the baby was out. (How was a little vague: I haven't explained that part yet. How do you explain a C-section and how it's different from the norm?) Then of course he held his invisible baby in his arms.

He found a TV connector coming up out of the floor in the living room (the previous owners had a dish on the roof). He called me over. He wanted to put air in me with the "air thingie." So he set it on my leg and filled me with air like a tire or a balloon. Made little whooshing noises.

Tonight as I lowered him into the tub (the rim is too high for him to climb in): "Mommy put me in the bathtub to see if I could swim. I pretended to drink up all the water. I pretended to eat up all the soap." Paraphrasing and acting out the kid's song.

Every day he makes me smile. He's got a great sense of humor and whimsy and a wonderful imagination.

Tuesday 26 March

Damian's first day back at school since recovering completely. He was in a very good mood afterward, which leads me to believe he likes the stimulation of being back in the swing of things. Also very very talkative.

He tried to put together his marble maze on his own. It's for kids age five and up, and it's pretty hard to figure out how to build something that marbles will roll through. He's never tried before. After a bit, he gave up and asked for help. But I was proud of him for giving it a go.

Balked at the notion of sitting in his own chair tonight. Strange; it was fine yesterday. But we had lasagna and I think he associates that with being on Daddy's lap, because it's so tricky to spear the bites. Don't know. Anyway, he balked. We pleasantly gave him the choice: either sit in his own chair or skip dinner. Well, he was hungry. Very hungry. He decided he wanted some of my lasagna. I speared a forkful and put it on his plate for him. He stood by his chair and ate it. I asked if he was ready to sit down. He said yes. I helped him up and he ate. A few bites later, he very proudly said "I'm sitting in MY chair." Which I think shows that his earlier refusal came from fear.

Wednesday 27 March

Two interesting moments from yesterday:

Damian pulled out a book about colors, turned to the first page, which was about orange, and declared "My favorite color is orange."

Damian didn't want to choose what to eat for dinner. Wanted me to choose. So I said he could have broccoli and steak, how did that sound? Damian said, "That sounds bad."

In both cases, he was stating an opinion, a preference, without being led by the hand through the choices. This is something that's been gradually improving, and I'm glad to see it.

Sophia left some of her toys here the other day. We tried them out. They're both electronic alphabet toys: a frog or Big Bird asks you a question and you have to press a button to answer (press the right letter, for instance, or press any purple letter). Damian was clearly stymied, and these games have very short pauses built in: they cue you again with the question, which I think discombobulated him. He froze and wouldn't press any buttons at all. I think it's an auditory processing or motor planning problem. Either he can't make sense out of the question quickly enough or he can't figure out how to do the right thing in response. He's getting better at computer games, but this was too demanding, too insistent, and he shut down.

When I picked Damian up from Kahuna at school, they were in the bike yard. Damian was tootling around in a ride-on car. When he saw me, he exclaimed, "I missed you, Mommy!" Never has said that before. As Kahuna and I were talking, Damian stood by me. Then he said, "I'm going to acting class tonight," and hopped back into his car. He told me, "I'm pretending to be Daddy."

At the park, he told two kids to get out of his face. Once a little boy was trying to horn in on the steering wheel action, and Damian told him very loudly that "I want the steering wheel!" And the other time a baby was trying to mess with a game he had going, and he told her "I want to play alone!"

Friday 29 March

Sounds like school was difficult this morning: Linda was out, so was Vincent. The class was chaotic when Damian got there. Dan says the three highest functioning kids (Damian, James and Percy) were invited into the Jumpstart class to participate in circle time. Sounds good, right? But he said it was a zoo in there and the teachers were having trouble getting the kids to settle down. Maybe they all knew it was the last day before spring break?

Dan picked Damian up from Callie. It was her first session one-on-one with him. Dan said Damian seemed up when he got there; it sounded like she was taking it slow. Which is appropriate.

When Damian got home, I was surprised how low key he was. He spoke quietly and hesitantly and wasn't very responsive. Half an hour later, after he'd warmed up a little, he said to me, "How did I feel at school today?" So I asked him. His response? "I felt nervous." He wanted to let me know and this is how he shaped the thought. He wanted me to cue him, so he cued me to cue him. Interesting, huh? I couldn't get him to say more about why he was nervous or what had happened in school, but I'm glad he shared that much with me. Very glad.

We went to the new mall (The Grove) tonight with some friends. Damian insisted on riding on Dan's shoulders, just like last Saturday at the same mall. Maybe tiredness, but we fear a ritual setting in. He gets locked into rituals a bit. Definitely part of his issues.

In the bathroom, Damian picked up an empty toilet paper roll and stuck his hand through it. Picture a cardboard bracelet and you get the idea. He then moved his hand like a puppet and pretended it was talking. He named it, too (something nearly unpronounceable). I was impressed.

At a kitchenware store, Damian got involved in playing pretend at the toy stove. Tracy, our friends' six year old daughter, joined in and pretty soon they were both at the kid-sized table, using silverware and pretending to eat. She was great with him, and he was responsive to her. They took pictures of each other. You know? Damian's shots were better framed than hers were.

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