June 2002 page 1 of 2
Saturday 1 June

Damian got upset that I didn't buckle both of his seatbelt buckles right away. He told me to do it and added, "because I don't want to fall out." It's not much, seemingly, but it's an extra step in his thinking/articulating thoughts, it's that much closer to abstraction. And it doesn't happen nearly enough.

As I sit here writing, I'm listening to Damian having an argument with his toy frog in the tub. He's telling Froggie to be nice, and Froggie's saying, "No, I want to be mean!" Then Damian's telling Froggie not to go in the water, water is for fishes, not for frogs.

The Potty Channel: Yesterday was Damian's first foray outside the house in underpants. We went to Whole Foods. He brought his travel potty, insisting on carrying it the whole time, but never needed to use it.

Today was another matter. We went on a foray to plant nurseries and such. Brought the travel potty. Asked Damian several times if he had to pee. He finally said yes, he did. Dan flipped it open and Damian used it right there in the middle (well, secluded corner) of the nursery. One of the guys who work there caught sight of us and said, "We do have a bathroom." I told him Damian was potty training and this was the first time he'd done it out of the house." The guy nodded, smiled and went away. Later, when I thanked him for being understanding, he said "I have kids of my own."

So that was all good. Later, however... not so good. In the parking lot at Target: "I do NOT want to use the potty! I do NOT have to pee!" Meanwhile, his pants were wet. So I changed him into dry underpants/pants and we headed home. In the car, he started straining. We asked if he needed to use the potty. No! Then he started to cry. Told us he was trying to not poop. We couldn't persuade him otherwise. He cried some more, finally calmed.

We got home. His pants were SOAKED. But he was so dead set against using the travel potty again, so what else could happen? (He did tell me he'd use the travel potty tomorrow, just not today.)

As I was changing him, he started peeing again. I convinced him to use the potty (he was briefly resistant but gave in). Thankfully, he did use it. Thankfully we're still on track. But ten minutes later he had a mess (poop) in his underpants. So we still have a ways to go, it seems.

It's one of those things they don't really tell you when you get pregnant: potty training can be a bitch. Damian is doing better at it than I'd feared but it's far from a cakewalk.

Sunday 2 June

On Friday, Streak commented on something I'd only subconsciously noticed: Damian is no longer narrating his pretend play in the third person. He had been saying things like "Mousey said, 'I'm going to ride on the train,' and Mousey went to the train car." Now he's saying "I'm going to ride on the train," speaking in character, and then taking the action. He's switched from distanced storyteller to more fully engaging in the play.

He's also making up a lot of words and rhyming them with real ones, or with each other. It's a bit odd. Dan worries, I think. I don't know quite what to make of it. One consistent made-up word, though: non-tary. It's his twist on contrary. He calls me non-tary sometimes but of course he himself never is.

Dan noted that Damian was very sensitive to Dan's moods today. Dan was grumpy this morning and Damian ordered him out of his room. This afternoon, Dan got mad at Damian for flinging dirt onto the walkway, and Damian burst into tears. It's relatively unusual for him to be that connected emotionally, and very good.

On the down side, he's been very stimmy the past few days. Needed deep pressure (he wanted to roll on me, we made a Mommy & Daddy sandwich instead and squished him) and ran in circles a lot. Probably related to the hugeness of potty training. He's a bit thrown by it.

Potty Time: We kept Damian in diapers for our farmer's market trip (he's in a backpack on Dan's back in the midst of a crowd of people -- way too complicated if he needs to pee). I worried that he'd balk at switching to underpants when he got home. Instead, after I made the changeover, Damian said, "Mommy, tell me to wear diapers!" "Okay, Damian, wear diapers." "No! I don't want to wear diapers, I want to wear underpants!" We agreed he'd wear underpants to school tomorrow. Tonight as I was helping him put his PJs (and diaper) on, I talked about how he will still wear a diaper at night for a while, and he said, "Diapers are for night time, underpants are for day time."

The big news of the day, though: his first poop in the potty. He started straining at dinner, agreed he needed to use the potty. Dan scooped him up and carried him there. Damian pooped. It's not yet him saying he's ready to poop, but it's a crucial step. Especially after all the praise we gave him, I think he'll be more willing to take that incentive next time.

Monday 3 June

After OT with Rivka, we always stop and get Damian a gumball. Today, gumball in hand, he told Dan, "I have a pretty neat nice looking gumball." Significance (beyond "yeah, cute kid") is that he's characterizing something he likes. Raising it above the concrete fact of "I have a gumball," which is what he's always said in the past.

Damian said, "Mommy, tell me a story." He was sitting on his floor pushing play-doh through a tube. So I told him a play-doh story. Started with what he was doing, then said, "When the play-doh came out the other end, it turned into a bird." Damian picked up the glob of play-doh and made it fly around, cawing like a crow. And he did this for the rest of the story, illustrating everything I said.

Damian picked up the phonebook sized Sunset Western Garden tome. "This book is called, 'How to Garden.'" He opened it up and turned the pages, "reading" the book. Here's how it goes: "First, you put the seeds in the dirt. Then you water the seeds and then the plant comes up. You water the plant and it grows faster. Then the plant stops growing. The plant is tall."

Damian didn't want Dan to come with us to the video store ("I want to go with Mommy, not Mommy and Daddy.") because Dan was moody pre-acting class. Damian is becoming more attuned to our emotional states, and reacts accordingly.

We were in the hall. Damian asked me, "Mommy, how are you?" I answered, "I'm very tired. I want to go to bed early." "Mommy will sleep with me." Err... Oedipal? But sweet, y'know?

Potty update: No accidents. Right on track.

Tuesday 4 June

This morning, Damian told us he didn't want to go to school, "School is boring." I swear, he's sounding more like a typical kid every day.

He's done with Gamma, I think. He doesn't react well to her and she seems lost. I think we'll wait till the school floor time schedule gets moved around; it'll squeeze her out with no hard feelings. Though by now I suspect she'd be relieved. He acts like he doesn't like her. That's got to be hard.

The big news of the day: Damian wore underpants to school for the first time ever. He peed in the potty at school, too. They gave him a certificate to mark the event.

On the other hand, he absolutely refused to use the potty while Gamma was here. Toward the end of her session time, he was obviously desperate to pee; he even crossed his legs in the classic holding-it-in pose, made a beeline for the potty the moment she was out the door and started to pee when his pants were halfway down. Desperate straits. I wish I understood what that was about.

Thursday 6 June

IEP meeting this morning. These are only tense every three years, apparently. The yearly meeting is usually more of a "yes, okay, carry on" sort of thing, with some new goals. This one went quite well (and was quite short, one hour instead of the FOUR hours last time). He's keeping all his current services and we're getting an additional four hours a week of floor time so he can have that support in an afternoon preschool twice a week. It was so easy, too. I made the request, explained why, and the psych said yes. Just like that.

Everyone at the table was impressed that Damian's starting to rhyme. Apparently it's a (pre-reading?) skill you usually have to painstakingly teach. A lot of kids have a lot of trouble getting it, and he's doing it on his own.

Damian pooped in the potty today for the third time. This was the first time he looked uncomfortable, I said, "Do you need to poop?" and he said "I'm starting to poop." (Which he wasn't, but it's his way of saying "time to go potty.") And we went and he did. And he wore underpants to school for the third day in a row, sans accidents.

So that's it for the potty updates. He's potty trained!!

Now we just have to work out the details. Like: he won't use the travel potty on the road. This has led to two accidents so far, when he couldn't hold it in till we got home, no matter how hard he tried. Poor kid.

Saturday 8 June

I've been sick the past couple of days. Yesterday Damian kept asking me how I felt and saying "I hope Mommy feels better soon." Very sweet.

He told me, "Mommy, be nice," and added, "If I give Mommy a kiss, Mommy will be nice." So he did.

A few days ago, Linda reported this: during goodbye circle, she asked who wanted to go next. Damian raised his hand and said "I would." Apparently Kenny gave her an astonished look and said, "Did he say 'I would'?" Damian is usually passive in circle time, he's not a kid who will ever volunteer anything, so this is extremely cool. He's coming out of his shell in stages.

Damian really doesn't like that I'm sick. He keeps coming into the bedroom and crawling in bed with me. He asks me how I am and when I say I'm sick, he says he's sick too. Or he says "A little sick or a lot sick?" And he keeps asking me to come play with him. And he tried pushing me out of the armchair when I said I didn't think it was a good idea to fall on me (a game we usually play -- he sits on the edge, falls onto me, I tickle him -- but oh boy, not today).

Sunday 9 June

Things keep coming back to me from the past few days. This is what happens when you get better after an illness, it's like stepping out of a fog bank. So today's memory:

Friday, Damian brought his favorite toys to school, Mousey (the brown catnip mouse) and Mousey's motorcycle (which used to belong to a human figure, but Mousey swiped it). At some point in the morning, it became inconvenient for Damian to hang onto Mousey while also participating in an art project. Linda suggested he stick Mousey in his sweatpants' volumnous pocket. He did. Later, he had speech with Bird. They were talking about pets. She asked him if he had any pets. He said, "I have a mouse," and pulled Mousey out of his pocket! She thought it was a real mouse and was, um, rather shocked.

Spooky: this morning, I was about to say "I'm going to make oatmeal," when Damian started talking about oatmeal out of the blue, wanting to try some. First, I don't usually make oatmeal. Second, this kid doesn't try new things often. Unfortunately, he didn't like it. But that psychic moment (or simple synchronicity?) still gives me a little shiver.

We met up with Diane & co, including new baby Simon. Damian wasn't as interested in Simon as I'd expected. And he and Sophia didn't click, at least not at first. I saw him inching away from her as they stood by the window. But then as we went out to the deck, the two of them raced each other to the front gate and back again, laughing and looking at each other. Enjoying each other. Over dinner, they took their chopsticks to their plates in an impromptu drumming session, riffing off each other. And after dinner, we sat in a Ben & Jerry's. Damian started copying Sophia: she told Diane to "sit here, Mommy!" So Damian told me to sit down too. And he scooped his ice cream onto his spoon exactly the way Sophia did. She's a great influence on him. I have to call her his first real friend even though she's nearly two years younger, literally half his age. But even though he's ahead of her in many ways -- his language, his play skills -- the two of them are at about the same level in their social interaction skill. So he's comfortable around her in a way he can't be around his age group peers. He knows he's different, I think, and that makes him hang back. It's good for him to have a younger friend.

I know I said no more potty updates, but I'm so pleased: he used the travel potty twice in the restaurant. So it seems to simply be an on-the-road (literally, in the car) phobia.

Monday 10 June

This is getting to be a bad habit: we stay out too late Sunday night, sleep in too late Monday morning, Damian misses school. No homework at age four, so it's not a disaster. Still, not a good idea. Damian told us today was Sunday.

Rivka told Dan she had pushed Nadia to keep Damian's OT on this IEP (with the six month review), that Nadia had been ready to suggest no OT. I can see this. Rivka doesn't see Damian as being as high functioning as Nadia does. Still, I'm glad if it means he'll get services for a little longer. She also told Nadia she could justify it by saying since he's switching to the Jumpstart class, he'll need more support. Which may be true.

Damian's been having Mousey make a loud "Aaah!" and divebomb into my breast. Needless to say, this ticks me off and I tell him so. Today, though, I overheard Silver give this "Aaah!" meaning: She said, "Is Mousey afraid of the cat?" Damian agreed that he was. Then they both shouted (had their characters shout?) "Aaaah!" at the cat, who, I'm guessing, continued to snooze peacefully on Damian's bed. That cat. The perfect recipient of a small child's abuse.

We took Damian's changing table out of his room today, a rite of passage. It's now back to cabinet duty in my office. Damian loved the extra space. He loved even more the idea that we could now buy him a play table as a kind of "Congratulations, you did it!" award. He seemed to understand that this meant moving the rocking chair to the living room. No more nightly rocking before bed. That's even bigger than potty training. (Well, maybe not quite.) So off we went to buy the table. We set it down unassembled in his room. He was okay with no rocking tonight, but took a looooong time to fall asleep.

Tuesday 11 June

Today's note from his teacher: "Damian had a wonderful day! He used a lot of complete sentences w/o any prompting. He used appropriate voice volume and even began singing a song during goodbye circle when we were blowing bubbles (after our modeling)." She also told Dan about a compound sentence Damian used: Someone asked him if he needed to use the potty, and he replied, "I do not need to use the potty, I already used it." Nothing to raise our eyebrows at home but still unusual at school. It's great to see his language/focus at school start to catch up to how he is with us. Frustrating that it's been so far behind, but it's understandable. As Cheri says, the school environment is extremely challenging. Sensory overload. It's harder to work up to his ability level there.

This afternoon, Damian came to me and asked, "Who's coming today?" He's used to Gamma coming on Tuesdays, or at least heading off to see Heidi. But Gamma's not coming anymore and Heidi was sick today. He knew something was off. And yes, we'd explained that Gamma had stopped working for the clinic so she wouldn't be coming anymore, but theory is one thing, reality another.

Dan set up Damian's new play table. It was a big hit. Brios and duplos and Froggy and Mousey all enjoyed the new table. Damian fished out a plastic mountain from his zoo animal set and said it was a mouse hole for Mousey. Later, he told me purple frog had a new name: SuperFrog.

When Dan was cooking salmon for Damian's dinner, Damian got upset that Dan was sauteeing it. "Don't fry it, cook it!" He pointed to the oven. He wanted the salmon baked. This is the first time Damian has ever told us how he wanted his food cooked. So Dan switched. And Damian enjoyed eating his baked salmon.

Wednesday 12 June

Damian woke up at six. He came to bed with us but was wide awake. He was in a good mood. Chatty. When Dan sat up, Damian sat up. When Dan got on all fours, stretching his back, Damian copied him. When Dan stood up and then left the room, Damian followed, his half pint shadow.

Kahuna reported that Damian was in a good frame of mind, that he (Kahuna) pushed buttons and Damian didn't get frustrated. This is good in theory but we'd told him last week to ease off on the button pushing, just have fun. And this morning before school, I talked to Damian about how he'd see Kahuna after school. He told me, "Kahuna teases me." Clearly not really happy about Kahuna right now. The guy has to ease off.

Dan drove Damian to Whole Foods, I met them there. Damian refused to get out of the car. He said he wasn't going to go inside, it was too crowded. Which it wasn't, but we both find it interesting that Damian is now -- more and more the past few days -- adding a "because" to his requests/objections/commentary. Even if the reason is specious, he's coming up with reasons on his own, unasked. Which means he's thinking more completely. Which is great.

Dan made ziti for dinner. Damian said it was "the most best pasta in the ever world." He then modified it, leaving out "ever." I love what I'm seeing happening in his brain. The ability to express himself in these ever more interesting, inventive ways.

After he finished dinner, Damian ran into my office. Then ran out, saying in a growly voice, "I'm a scary monster and I'm gonna get you!" Then he attacked me, hugging my torso.

Thursday 13 June

Oh boy. First, Dan had a conversation with Susie, a TA who is the Potty Queen. Turns out Damian has not, in fact, been telling her when he has to pee. She asks but when he's fidgeting and clearly in need and he still says no she takes him anyway. Dan said "No, don't do that. Let him tell you." We don't know if she understood. Later, Dan and I talked to Linda about it. She confirmed what Susie had told Dan, and said that he cried the first time or two that he was forced to go to the potty, but not since then.

This is bad. This is very bad. This can undo all our careful gentle work with him. This can turn the potty issue into something bigger and more traumatic. It also teaches him the wrong thing: it teaches him to be passive and let someone else do the thinking, let someone else tell him what his own body needs. We underlined that he has to tell someone when he has to pee, or at least say yes when someone asks. Linda seems to have gotten it, but we thought she understood last time.

When we met up with Robin, she said that Linda had told her Damian had cried three times this morning out of nowhere, just started crying. She experienced it once herself. We didn't know what to make it of, but it seemed linked to the potty problem.

In other matters: She said he played with Bobby and Cory, that it went well with lots of sharing toys (they were all building marble mazes together) and even when they broke off and built their own, they had to trade pieces. Sounds good. We talked to her about what we observed a couple of weeks ago: She and another floor timer were playing Kerplunk with Damian and another kid. Damian was focused on the game but looked bored. He was doing it because he was supposed to, not because he took joy in it. And there was no interaction between the kids. This seems counter productive: we want him to associate playing with other kids with FUN, not boredom. She agreed -- in theory -- but went on to essentially say that she thought this was an issue for him, that he gets bored pretty quick and wants to move on to something new, that he has no extended focus. So she's been working on that (though she then contradicted herself (and what we'd seen) by saying she goes along with what he wants, since she's not a teacher trying to get him to finish a task). Dan sort of agreed with her but I don't. I think she's not making games enjoyable enough to sustain Damian's interest. He has great focus when he's engaged. This is a topic for our next clinic.

Damian was essentially ignoring Robin while we were talking; he was restless and wanted to interact with me and with Dan. One odd moment: he was in my lap and suddenly rubbed his eyes and said "I don't want to see funny!" All we could figure was that he'd been seeking deep pressure by rubbing his eyes and then didn't know what to make of the starry aftereffect. He was genuinely upset, but calmed down fairly quickly.

He also tried to make me give him juice. He got up, picked it up from the table and tried to hand it to me so I could give it to him. I don't fall for that. I gently explained to him that he could get it himself. He told me he couldn't, that he was too big. An interesting justification.

When we stood up, he was suddenly desperate to get out of there. More than ready to leave. Wouldn't pee while we were there. And sure enough, he cried in the car and peed all over himself. Unfortunately, it only got worse when we got home. He refused a potty run, said he didn't have to pee. So he sat on Dan's lap, being comforted. And peed again, in his new dry clothes.

It was a rough afternoon. Damian would burst into tears for no reason. He'd cry when we suggested he go pee. After three soiled pants, we said we'd run out of pants and he'd have to go bare-assed if he wet his pants again. He told us the next time he had to pee (or rather, agreed with me when I asked) but cried the whole time he was using the potty. It was a cycle that fed itself, because he'd get upset about the whole potty experience, want juice to soothe himself, drink the juice down and lo, he'd have to pee again. Which was good in a perverse way, because it gave us all plenty of practice.

Somewhere in the midst of this, he actually pooped. In the potty. I mention this because we think it might have been the culprit all along: if he felt it coming while he was at school, he might have tried to hold back, creating huge cramps and therefore making him cry.

But even after that he was on edge, crying a lot. Very hard to be with. We thought he might be sick. He went to bed early but woke up crying twice within the first hour, so I brought him to bed with me. He still cried. We gave him Advil. He calmed. I was convinced he was sick.

Friday 14 June

I was wrong: he wasn't sick. He woke up chipper this morning. Absolutely fine. It was all just stress. Potty-related or Robin-related or both. If he was stressed about the potty issue and then worked with someone he no longer trusts, that could set him off. I've only ever seen him like this after working with her once last month and now. Reason for serious concern. I'd thought she understood that she had to back off and rebuild the relationship. I'm not sure she does.

So today Damian stayed home from school. Good day overall, though he was clearly still on edge. His boiling point was much lower.

Saturday 15 June

This morning Damian and Dan were playing; it sounds like a very successful imaginative play session, with lots of good connections between ideas, extending a scenario, etc. Damian took the Duplo cave piece and called it Mousey's house. Dan had Peeper get jealous and make his own house out of Duplos. Mousey liked Peeper's house and took it over. Peeper was upset. Damian put Bob the Builder in a truck and drove over to Peeper, saying "Don't be sad, Peeper," and he built Peeper a new house.

After the game wound down, Damian started jumping around his room, flapping his hands. Stimming. Dan asked if he wanted to jump on the trampoline. He said no, but when I said I wanted to go jump, Damian agreed to accompany me to the guest room. Where, of course, we jumped together. But when he came back to his room, he was still stimmy. So we got on his bed and he jumped there.

As he jumped, he started shouting "Pots!" Which was such a non-connected word, it felt like a verbal stim. Dan tried to get Damian to sing the ABC song. It turned into our singing, "ABC" and Damian interjecting "Pots!" And he did it too: "EF Pots!" So the song went something like: "ABC Pots EF Pots HI Pots KLMNO Pots QR Pots TU Pots W Pots Y and Pots, now I know my Pots, next time won't you Pots with Pots?" Silly but I was very glad we turned it into something truly interactive. When he gets stuck on a word -- which he does far less these days but it does still happen -- we try to break it somehow or make it meaningful and it usually doesn't work. This time it did.

He then shouted "I can bang on pots and pans!" I think he got it from a story somewhere. So I turned that into something concrete too: "Do you want to bang on pots and pans?" So we went to the kitchen. I gave him a wooden spoon and two small pots. He put one on his head like a hat and turned the other one upside down so he could bang on it like a drum, but his hat kept slipping so he ended up with two drums. We sat and enjoyed his playing for a while. This kid has rhythm. He was banging each pot and banging the floor in between and it was genuinely enjoyable drumming.

He pulled another "Mommy has to do this" deal today. Wanted me to carry him out of the bathroom. Just like he did Thursday, he told me he was too big to do it on his own. Thing is, we've NEVER told him he was too big. Dan sometimes says "You're a big boy, you can do it," but I don't even like that because I don't want any negative associations with growing up. All I can figure is that someone at school is saying that to him. Either Kahuna or Robin is my guess. I'm going to ask. And tell them to cut it out.

Yesterday we saw a man in a wheelchair and Damian was very curious, so I told him some people have trouble walking so they push themselves in wheelchairs. So today Damian declared his tricycle a wheelchair and kept saying "I'm having trouble walking. I'm going to use a wheelchair." And then he'd sit and propel himself along. I like that he was incorporating something he'd just learned into his play, trying to sort it out for himself.

Damian made up a nonsense song tonight and marched around the front porch singing it. Dan was impressed because Damian intuitively understands how to construct a song -- the stanzas, the meter, etc. I'm not musical, so I can't exactly explain it, but it's clear that Damian is. Here's his song:

The flowerbox is made out of wood, wood wood my crazy
Wood, wood wood my crazy,
Wood, wood wood my crazy
All in the morning

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