April 2002 page 1 of 2
Monday 1 April

Computer disaster Saturday: Damian sat on my lap on the bed while I checked email. He was drinking from a sealed cup with a straw. Somehow he spurted water out of the top of the straw onto the keyboard. I thought it was just a few droplets, nothing to worry about. But then I shut the computer down and it wouldn't reboot. It went into the shop. Shop said take it to the Apple Store. So I'm on Dan's computer now. Thank god for a two computer family. Moral of the story? Be careful what exactly is on your lap(top).

So. The weekend. I got sick Saturday. Stayed horizontal most of the day. Damian didn't get it at all. And didn't understand when I got upset about the computer. Dan tried to explain it to him, but he showed no empathy at all. He tackled me for fun while I was bent over in the closet. I nearly threw him off me (no, of course I didn't). It may be that my negative emotions are still too hard to handle. I don't know. But it's disturbing that he's still so lacking in empathy.

Yesterday he got mad when I came into his room while he and Dan were playing. Told me he didn't like me! I think he was feeling rejected by me so he wanted to reject me. I teased him out of it. In a way, I liked that he told me he didn't like me. It's such a typical kid thing to say, and requires some stretching of the truth.

Callie came by the house to work with Damian, so I got to eavesdrop on the session. My feeling? She means well, has a nice warmth, but tends to be too structured. She asks too many questions, she plays games by the rules, and she doesn't inject enough silliness into it or allow Damian a chance to take over and lead. I gave her a gentle critique afterward. I'm also going to make sure she and Robin talk, and I'll probably also mention it to Eliza. I think Callie has potential but that she's not doing real floor time. Not yet. Damian deserves the real thing.

We spent time in the computer repair place today. Damian was befriended by two men, who asked him his name. He said it too quietly for them to hear. I tried to prompt a louder answer. So you know what he did? He turned to me and told me his name in a louder voice. Um, not exactly, kid.

We asked him some more about what happened Friday that got him upset. Dan thinks someone hit him. Damian didn't say who, just kept saying "I don't know." But when we asked about kids by name, he kept saying no till we asked about the two most likely candidates. Then he said yes. It's obvious he meant what he said, but it's unclear if they both hit him Friday or if they hit him other times and he was remembering the general rather than the specific.

Wednesday 3 April

Damian is now capable of playing on his own in a sustained imaginative way. It's exciting to see. He brought out his tea set and wanted me to put water in the teapot so he could serve himself tea. Then he wanted water in the creamer and water in the sugar bowl -- and then pretended the whole scenario. I gave him some cheese. He put it on the tiny plates and speared it with his tiny fork. When it was time to go to gym class, he carefully set everything back in the basket, saying "I'm putting my stuff away."

He had a truck train (on the Brio track) bring a Christmas tree and "presents" to a spot on his playmat, then declared it Christmas for Mr. Two Fingers. I had a Little People kid come over and want to join in. Damian whisked her away and deposited her back where she'd come from. I brought her back. He took her away. We did this with a few Little People. Then I brought over an elephant. Damian tried to whisk her away too. I had the elephant throw a hissy fit and get very sad that she wasn't included in Christmas. Finally Mr. Two Fingers gave her a present. She opened it and was happy. Damian then, of course, whisked her away. I'm glad he's doing this with good humor and that he's okay with my interference, but I do wish he was a bit more inclusive in this Christmas game. He does get into set rituals of how to play certain self-invented games and it becomes hard to vary anything.

Thursday 4 April

Robin came by the house today for the first time. Damian was quieter, more subdued than I'd expect. They read Harold and the Purple Crayon and then drew the story on the cement in the back yard. Later, after she left, Damian started drawing on his chalkboard. He told me he was drawing a story, and drew a rectangle and then slashed marks all over it. He said it was Damian and the Purple Crayon.

Damian and Dan have been developing a story in the tub every night. It's all Damian's, though Dan asks bridging questions. Tonight it goes like so: "The froggie visited his neighbors. Froggie said, 'Can I go back to the boathouse?' (ie: can I leave now -- Froggie lives in a boat house) The neighbors said, 'Sure.' So Froggie left. Froggie missed his neighbors and his neighbors missed Froggie. I'm not sure, but I think Froggie then went back to visit them again. I love that he's trying on the idea of people missing each other.

Friday 5 April

Kahuna came over. Damian had a great time with him but kept coming out to check in with me (and grab my arm and talk to me, etc.). Kahuna finally put his foot down and said that while they did floor time, Mommy was off limits. I don't think Damian liked that very much but I was greatly relieved. Then Kahuna wanted Damian to help him clean up. Damian started wailing. Took a long time to calm down. I think it was partly tiredness (as it often is, it seems) but also partly that his buddy betrayed him by being a hardass. Kahuna is raising the bar with Damian. We follow through. It's been working out pretty well. Even if Damian disagrees.

Damian and I were on the couch. Dante came over and sat on the couch arm. I petted him, he purred. Damian asked, "Why does the cat purr?" I said "He purrs because he's happy." Damian looked Dante in the face, twisting his own body to do so, and then settled back into the couch, informing me, "Dante is smiling."

Saturday 6 April

Damian set up a Brio track across his play mat. I came into the room, spotted a toy mouse riding in one of the cars. I commented on it. Damian said, "The mouse is going on vacation." I thought that was pretty imaginative.

Later, he called me in. He wanted me to "sing the train song." What train song? I don't know any train songs. He came close and whispered "I've been working on the railroad." So I sang it while he pushed his train along the track. Then he asked, "How does the train feel?" So I asked it back to him. "The train feels tired. The train is going to bed." He backed it into the shed. Then he sang a song, "The train is in be-e-e-ed, the train is in bed, and it is sad, and it is sad, the train is in bed and it is sad." Somewhat (well, slightly) more tuneful than I can reproduce. I was mostly impressed that he tied the last stanza into the first.

We were out and about. He pooped. I brought him into a public restroom. While I was changing his diaper, he informed me, "I don't poop in my diaper, I poop in the toilet." I wish.

Tuesday 9 April

(hiatus caused by getting set up on a new-to-me computer)

Today was Damian's first day back at school. Yesterday was supposed to be, but... vacation plus time change? Think we're on track with bedtime? Yeah.

But Damian did see Rivka yesterday. Apparently there's now another kid his age and approximate ability level overlapping the time slot and the two boys enjoyed playing together in the ball pit, etc. Good news.

Last night while he was in the tub I gave Damian a fire truck. Suggested one of the frogs could drive it. He brought one over. Red, of course. He said it was a firefrog. Then he said I was on fire. I put my foot on the tub rim and suggested it was the on-fire part. "Mommy's foot is NOT on fire." Okay, how about my knee? "Mommy's knee is NOT on fire." Okay, what, then? "Mommy's breast is on fire!" Sneaky kid, thought he'd discovered an end-around the no-touching-Mommy's-breasts stricture. (It had gotten out of hand some months ago. He still sometimes tests that boundary.)

Damian has started asking more sophisticated versions of his now-constant questions. For instance, he saw the scar on my wrist and asked, "What's that from?" So I told him. Later, he found a little loop on the back of his shoe and asked, "What's that for?"

We had a clinic today. Didn't get a chance to bring Damian in for play time. We talked about his great progress recently. Also talked about how it's time to do what Kahuna's been doing: pushing his buttons, getting Damian to deal with frustration/panic when he's in unknown territory (ie: something unexpected throws him off). It's not something I've really taken note of, that he's this way, but later I brought Damian to the seafood store. He lingered by the bread case. I was called to order fish. I figured I could come back to the bread. Damian got really upset. He insisted we pick out the bread first, and that I then take his hand and lead him to the fish counter. So yes, he has his rituals and he becomes nervous edging on scared when that ritual is disrupted. It's interesting because I wouldn't say he's got lots of rigid rituals, not at all, but he does have some and he gets really discombobulated when you try to change them. Also when you try to get him to do things on his own and he wants to be passive. Also when you try to get him to do something he considers beyond his ability level for whatever reason (too hard or possible sensory challenge).

We also talked about his current recurrent "I don't know" response when you know he *does* know the answer. It may be that he's irritated at being asked; his way of saying "I don't want to play that game." Or, depending on the situation, the question may be too challenging when he doesn't want to think that hard. In the former situation, we should drop the questioning. In the latter, we can keep pressing -- he does need to learn to stretch himself -- but we have to be sensitive to his response and be supportive as we do it.

Another thing at the seafood store: Damian and I were sitting on chairs by the door, eating tuna salad. Damian was staring fixedly. I looked: he was staring at a three year old girl! He smiled at her. She hid behind her daddy's legs.

Jordan's six year old sister was present at Heidi's. She hung out with Damian most of the session. He didn't seem to mind, though he wasn't directly responsive to her. But when she walked on the balance beam, he walked on the balance beam. They hugged at the end.

He walked on the beam better than he ever has before, with far less fear. He'd been standing on a wobble board beforehand, which may have helped his vestibular system organize enough for him to balance well on the beam. Or maybe it was the young female audience.

Tonight after dinner, Damian came around to my side of the table and said "What do I order?" He wanted to play waiter. Ended up spinning lettuce in the salad spinner and serving that. Waiter and chef both, I guess.

Wednesday 10 April

Kahuna said he had a good time with Damian. He said that Damian engaged in two to three step imaginative play with him but had trouble getting to step four or five. Gave an example of playing with a fire truck and said that when he went to get the hose, or encouraged Damian to, Damian lost interest in the game. I find this odd because Damian will act out entire fire fighter scenarios at home: something (usually Mommy) is on fire, get the fire truck, bring it to the building (me), have the fire fighter climb the ladder, make <psh> noise of the water hose, maybe save someone, then climb down the ladder, drive back to the fire station or sometimes the gas station to fill up the tank. So what's that? Eight or nine steps. Completely on his own with no input from me except appropriate reactions. So I have to wonder what the difference is and if something turned Damian off that Kahuna didn't tune into.

Damian really wanted to stay at school; he was tootling around in a ride-on car but we had to get to My Gym, so I convinced him to leave. He wasn't happy about it. I said he was probably tired (therefore cranky), he said "I am NOT tired." I said okay, grumpy, then. "I am NOT grumpy." (said in a very grumpy voice.)

He had a minor breakdown at the car. I soothed him, helped him in. As I pulled away from the curb, he started crying again. Didn't want juice, didn't want food. Wanted Mommy to make it better. We negotiated for a while: turned out he wanted a kiss. Never mind that I'd kissed him after I put him in his seat. He wanted a kiss to feel better. I tried to blow him a kiss from my seat, but he got even more upset and said "I don't want a blow kiss, I want a real kiss!" So halfway there I pulled over and gave him a kiss. He quieted immediately. I got back in and drove the rest of the way.

But as we got within a block of the gym, Damian told me again he didn't want to go to gym class. He was very emphatic. We sat in the parked car and I tried to persuade him to try it out for five minutes, but no -- he just wanted to go home. So we did. And he was happy. I think he was tired and knew his limits and that he wasn't up for the physical activity.

Had a hand-washing meltdown, I'm afraid. Long story but I HAD to wash his hands ASAP and he refused, so I had to use a little force. Not my parenting style and I'm really afraid it might have a negative long term effect on his willingness to have his hands washed. For half an hour afterwards, he was telling me "I DON'T want my hands washed." He was really upset, reliving the experience. I apologized and told him why I'd had to do it that way but that I never would again.

At dinner, Damian said "I want some of Mommy's water." So I put some in a cup and gave it to him. He drank it down. Not long ago, he wouldn't have drunk water -- only juice -- and insisted on one of his big sippy-cup-with-built-in-straws. He's getting over one self-help hurdle. Nice to see.

Thursday 11 April

He now says "I don't want to do alternating steps" when confronted with staircases. A minor rebellion. So he goes up one step at a time. Painfully slow.

I went out for the evening solo. Dan put Damian to bed by himself for just the second time ever. It felt freeing for me, but a little sad not to see Damian's face before he went to bed.

Dan said he filled a regular small cup with Damian's juice/water mixture. Damian drank it down in one go. He's gotten proficient at drinking from a real cup.

Friday 12 April

This morning Damian (who had come into bed with us around 4 am, as has become his habit), woke me up saying "Go turn off the water!" He could hear the water running in the bathroom and was worried about it overflowing, I guess. I told him Daddy was taking a shower and he accepted that.

For the first time this week, he was happy when I came to pick him up. He finally had a good day at school and didn't need to fall apart afterwards either. This has been a hard transition for him: first he was sick, then he had a few days back and went on a week-long vacation. He's not used to getting up early and not used to the school ritual. Today he told me he liked his old school better (the Temple preschool we pulled him out of last year). I don't think so but I do think he's having trouble adjusting.

At any rate, he was in a great mood when I picked him up. He'd been working with Callie and for the first time I felt like she was doing appropriate floor time with him: being silly and doing imaginative play with flashlights (day and night) and dolls. In fact, he was so into the dolls and doll stroller he told me he was going to take the stroller with him. Which he couldn't, but I got him out the door by telling him we'd go to the toy store and buy him a doll and stroller of his own. So we did. He was so excited. Played with doll in and out of stroller the rest of the day. Such a great interactive toy. He calls himself "Father Damian."

Saturday 13 April

Went to a birthday party for a classmate today. It was at a kid's gym. Damian had a very good time. He wasn't nervous around the other kids, with one exception: I saw him sidle away from Bobby when they were sitting near each other. (Bobby is a very in-your-face kid.) But he happily got in a wagon with a little girl and had his friend James push it. And he participated in some of the group activities, though he got bored pretty quickly. He sang Happy Birthday (albeit with coaxing) and was very intrigued by the cake ritual. I think he may enjoy his own party in three weeks. It'll be his first real birthday party since he turned one.

Monday 15 April

I bought him a shovel and castle-shaped pail at the grocery store. He was very eager to get home and make sand castles. Silver came and played with him, and apparently they made dirt cake (and put it in the bean box "oven" to bake). So he wanted to do that again. Filled the pail halfway with dirt, found some long pine needles, which he called candles (I had him get four because he's going to be four years old soon), and then sang Happy Birthday to me and asked me to blow out the candles. Knows the whole ritual. This is good. Should make his birthday a better experience.

Didn't want to take a bath. I said "You have a choice, bath or getting your hands washed." He chose the hand washing. But then hated it and, though he didn't pull away or struggle, complained the whole time. And afterwards too, saying "I don't want my hands washed" in a very indignant voice. At least three times. I wish I understood what's suddenly made it feel like an ordeal.

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