September 2002 page 2 of 2
Monday 16 September

When I did dishes, he came in too, wanted to help. Decided "I should pick out what Mommy will wash." So he handed me dishes and glasses one at a time. He was proud of his role as chooser.

He declared when his bath was done tonight and put all the bath toys away of his own accord. I've noticed this happening more and more; he's actually starting to internalize the "clean up" ethos. Which we've never been strict about. This is coming from school experiences, I think.

One of us still lies down in bed with him while he falls asleep. Tonight I tried to get up and turn the lullaby CD down (it was LOUD) but Damian was having none of that. He wanted it to remain just as it was. Said he liked it that loud, that it helped him fall asleep.

After he fell asleep, I got up, pulled the covers up over him, and went over to the boom box to turn the CD off. Just like I do every night. But tonight the moment the music was off, Damian woke up. "I want it on!" So I had to hit play again. Not only that, but he wanted it at the very song it had been on when I turned it off. And then I had to lie down with him again. For another forty five minutes or so, because he was now wide awake.

Tuesday 17 September

Damian snuggled against me on the couch eating a watermelon pop. He told me, "I'm sharing this pop with you, Mommy. Sharing is when you are doing it and someone else wants to take a turn and do it, you share. Nice people share. Like me. I'm nice."

When I told him he'd go to the Other School this afternoon, he said (not surprisingly) that he didn't want to. So I talked to him about the issues involved. Basically, that I thought he was afraid and it was completely understandable; new kids, new environment. That he used to be scared of being on his own in Tania's class and now he tells Daddy to leave (which he does). He explained why he does that (tells Daddy to go): "Grownups aren't supposed to stay at school. Grownups are supposed to leave their kids and go." Logical.

On the other hand, he wanted me to stay at the Other School. I agreed that I would... this time and for a few more times. And that Kahuna would stay always. He still objected to going to the Other School, but you know? When it was time to go, he went willingly.

I'm still working on that entry about this school, so I won't relate any anecdotes from this afternoon's excursion.

Wednesday 18 September

When I picked him up from Mary today, she reported they spent an hour playing with Corey and his floor timer (Colette, who Damian had for the summer and who I miss). I asked how interactive it was and she shrugged. Somewhat. But low affect. Why? Because they played two structured games. I'm starting to get pissed. I've told her two times (now three) that this will not teach Damian to enjoy play with other kids and that it might do the opposite, please get him involved in gross motor play instead, make it high affect and fun. I'm going to have to talk to Cheri, I think. Get the fear of Da Boss into Mary. This is too important to his development to fuck around with.

Damian has been playing better alone lately, spinning stories all by himself with his Mousey and Froggie and Peeper. So I've grabbed the opportunity to absent myself from his room from time to time, giving me the freedom to, oh, say, do the dishes. Ah, the luxury. But it doesn't often last very long. Before long, he's calling for me to come in.

Yesterday I heard him get very upset but I didn't come in till he called (wanted to see if he could problem solve on his own). When I got there, everything seemed fine. As I walked in, he told me, "I was upset because the legos fell apart and wouldn't go back together." (He had in fact conquered the legos by the time I got there.)

Today I heard him yelling at the cat. He called me, sounding absolutely in tears. As I went in, I passed the cat on his way out. Damian told me, "I was mad at Dante because he was in my room and I tried to tell him to go away and he wouldn't go." I asked him why he wanted to kick the cat out. He finally told me it was because Dante was blocking Mousey's way -- Mousey was in a truck and Dante was on the "road."

I'm so pleased that Damian is telling me what's going on in his mind and especially that he can express -- unasked -- his emotional state.

Tonight he was having a lot of fun trying to squish Dante. The cat was on the ottoman, Damian was using the blowup cushion and rolling it on Dante. Who just lay there and took it. Gotta love that animal. I sat in the armchair and put out my hand to protect the cat from getting creamed. Damian thought this was extremely funny. Before long, he changed the game. He bonked me instead, then laughed and said, "I thought Mommy was the cat!" He's getting the concept of jokes.

Thursday 19 September

Dan drove Damian to school a few days ago (as he does most mornings). Damian started tossing his board books in the air, aiming them at the book basket by his side. He told Dan, "Daddy, these are pop-up books." Because they were popping up, you see. Another joke!

School report: he was cranky this morning, didn't want to participate. But cheered right up when he saw Robin and had a fun time with her. He kept saying he loved this game or that activity, very exuberant.

I was driving to pick him up when the belts in my car engine snapped. So Dan had to pick Damian up instead. He explained to Damian what had happened, just the basic concepts. When he said the car broke, Damian looked really worried. His face cleared as Dan said that Mark the mechanic was fixing it right now and that I was waiting there.

Tonight he wanted to know what was wrong with the car. So I told him. I said that the belts were like rubber bands and asked him if he remembered what rubber bands were. He launched into a lengthy explanation. I wish I could remember the exact words, but he said (in part) that rubber bands are like this (illustrating with his hands) and when you stretch them, they go boing! and get small again. He was very curious about the belts in the car but I don't know enough to tell him more than the basics.

Friday 20 September

Bird flagged Dan down this morning to tell him she's thrilled with how Damian's been doing. Apparently he's been very interested in other kids, and yesterday she had him in a speech session with a boy who had poor articulation. Damian started correcting the kid's articulation, saying the word himself to illustrate, and then saying "Good!" when the boy got it right! That's got to feel pretty great for him, to be able to do that. Damian's articulation has always been good, so it's not that he identified, but that he saw how he could help.

We went to the Grove outdoor mall today, an errand to the Apple store there. As we left the store, Damian turned and waved. "Goodbye, store." Then he turned to me. "It's good to say goodbye when you leave." Heh. Yeah, it is.

Later, we went back to the store. While Dan explored, Damian played a computer game he'd never seen before. I was poised to offer guidance but he listened to the narrator explain how to play and did everything right. It was a simple game but still, this is a long way from the way we had to explain every step and push him to take action. That was six months ago, maybe?

Saturday 21 September

I was in my office working. Damian was with Dan. He scrunched up Entertainment Weekly. Dan told him to stop, that I'd be upset. Damian trotted into my office and said, "Mommy, I'm sorry for crunching up your magazine." (I thanked him for the apology.)

Later I was in a grumpy mood (as was he) and I was a bit short with him. He told me, "Calm down and be nice." Ha. I told him I would if he did.

Sunday 22 September

Diane brought Sophia and baby Simon over today. Before they got here, Damian said "She can't play with my frogs or my mice, but she can play with the toys on my play table." I thought that was fair enough. She did end up playing with Yellow Frog, though, and that was acceptable. They mostly still do parallel play with forays into joint play -- following each other around with toy cars, for example. She gave him plates of play food but he wasn't terribly interested in joining that game. They had a rousing game of chase late in the day, though.

Monday 23 September

Tania reported that Damian is doing fairly well in class, that he's comfortable around the other kids but that he still doesn't initiate interaction with them unless you get him revved up in gross motor play. Then he does. I feel good that she's so conscious of the issue and is keeping an eye on it. It wasn't possible in his previous class.

Bird told me that Damian and Jules had a speech session together and that they were both riffing off each other. Jules said she needed to pick up her lunch bag (her purse was on the floor), Damian corrected him and said it was a purse. She liked that they were both being spontaneous in their communication and that Damian was talking to the other kid of his own accord.

Damian and I were talking about his friends -- mostly floor timers. He commented that Sophia was his special friend. I think because she's a real friend, a kid friend.

I stubbed my toe very badly this afternoon. Think blood. Think a nonstop hour of pain. I thought it was broken. I had to sit still and keep it elevated. Damian's reactions ran the gamut. First he kissed it better (not my foot, though, my cheek). Then when I said I couldn't walk, he suggested I walk on one foot and illustrated, hopping around the room. Then he declared that he didn't like me because I was hurt and couldn't walk. Then he curled up next to me and cuddled. Then he got up and ran off, immediately bumping into something and wailing -- ie: turning the tables, demanding that I take care of his boo-boo. Got quite upset when I said I coudn't get him juice because I couldn't get up. Which I think was his way of finding something easier to pin his feelings on. Thankfully Dan got home just then and he could ease Damian's angst.

Tuesday 24 September

Damian got upset this morning at the thought that Dan would drive him to school in the red car instead of the blue car. We had to tell him the rationale not once but three times before he accepted the change in routine. Yesterday I tried to pull my car into the driveway spot Dan usually takes. Damian had a cow. I had to pull out and put my car where it was supposed to go in the world according to Damian. He doesn't have too too many of these little rigidities, he used to have more, but he still has too many for my liking. We need to teach him to be more flexible.

Kahuna came half an hour late to the Other School this afternoon. I was worried I wouldn't be able to help Damian there, that he'd cling to me. But actually he did fairly well. He served himself a snack (he's been too nervous to eat first thing -- usually skips lunch beforehand too) and ate it. And paid attention during circle time, though he was very fidgety. And when the teacher asked the kids to think of something they'd like to eat on pretzels (the snack had been pretzels), they all said things like ice cream and candy and bunk beds (!) but Damian said (in the smallest voice imaginable) "I would put peanut butter on it." Which shows he was thinking about the question.

She read a book about sea creatures and had the children act out the animals. Damian watched the other kids undulating their arms like octupuses (octopii?) and -- extremely hesitantly -- tried it out himself. It was clearly harder for him to do the appropriate motor planning for this unfamiliar motion. When she asked the kids to make shark faces, he did great, baring his teeth in a wide grimace.

After Kahuna got there, I took my usual background position. Damian didn't do much interacting with other kids that I saw, though for the first time he didn't get restless to leave till near the end. And he did have one bout of interaction in the yard. He likes ride-on cars and gravitates toward them. Of necessity, he interacts with kids driving other cars when they get in his way, and since these are typical kids, they want to play more or less together. So that's something.

Wednesday 25 September

Dan and Tania talked this morning. She commented that Damian is quite high functioning. Since this is a high functioning class, her implicit meaning is that he's at the high end even of that curve. She also said she's seen growth in the short time he's been in her class. Which I think is true.

I met up with Damian and Mary in the sand yard. He and I stayed there a bit, then went inside. As we left, he turned and waved. "Goodbye, sand yard." Then he turned to me. "But the sand yard didn't say anything. It can't talk because it doesn't have eyes or a mouth."

As Damian and I were heading out of school later, Kathy (TA) said hi but he ran past, gleeful. She laughed and said something about how much fun he is. I said yes, he's very silly and I'm glad he's showing that in class. She said "Oh, yes. More and more. He's got such a great personality." I said, "He cracks us up at home all the time." She concurred. He makes the teachers laugh too.

I can't explain how good this conversation made me feel. That he's showing himself enough in class that they think he's funny and silly. That he's happy enough, comfortable enough there to do that. It's such progress and carries such hope. And sometimes it's felt like the child I know isn't the child others see. He doesn't show himself to them. Now he's starting to do just that. Such hope.

We met Heidi for the first time since mid-July. We're going to start meeting in the park instead of an OT gym. It lacks some equipment but has lots of other things to try. She had him go on a high-up swaying tunnel he's always been afraid to try. She also got him to crawl through a tunnel she brought, and he got on a swing and pumped his legs just like a big boy. He still doesn't have enough leg strength to make it go fast, but he's willing to try now. All in all, it was a successful outing. Different, for sure. But I think it'll be good for him. Get him over some of his lingering fears of gross motor play involving balance and heights and such.

Thursday 26 September

Damian was low energy this morning. Robin said he had a positively flat affect when she picked him up in class. She ran and skipped with him down the hall, though, and he woke up. Apparently was extremely talkative and fun during their time together and was in a good frame of mind all afternoon. This is such a simple trick: just rev his motor and he'll be up. But we (collective "we") use it so seldom.

I sat down with Damian and told him about the big plans afoot for next week: Dan will be out of town Monday and Tuesday nights; I'll be gone Friday and Saturday nights. Each a first for Damian, though when Dan works late nights or goes to his Monday night class, he might as well be out of town. Except that he's here in the morning and that will be different. I was worried about how Damian might take it, but he was very matter of fact about it. "Daddy will be gone and Mommy will be here with me and then Mommy will be gone and Daddy will be here with me." Yep, that about sizes it up.

He started telling me that I love him when I play with him and Daddy loves him when he comes home. I tried to explain that we love him all the time, even when we're not with him. I listed all the other times (ie: I love him when he's at school too). He said, "You love me when you lie down and cuddle with me." I said "I love you when you're in your own bed too." "You love me when you lie next to me in my bed." Argh. Not getting the point across here.

Friday 27 September

When I picked Damian up at school, he wanted to stay a while and scoot around the bike yard in a ride-on car. He pretended to drive over me, then asked what happens when you drive over someone. He answered his own question. "When you drive over someone you make them flat." Then he pondered. "What would happen if another car drove over me?" Answered his own question. "It would make me flat and the car flat too and the steering wheel would be flat. And the engine would be flat too." Methinks the kid has been watching too many Warner Brothers cartoons.

I spoke with Kenny (TA) today. He told me that there's a marked difference between Damian in class and his affect as soon as one of his floor time therapists shows up. His face lights up and he gets very animated. I'm a little disappointed to hear this -- it means he's not as outgoing in class as Kathy had made it sound.

I noticed on the "today we did" note that they talked about favorite toys in circle time. I asked Damian what he'd said. He said "My favorite toy is a mouse." Which is true. He went on, "I love animals. I'm a boy who loves animals." "Like Stanley?" I asked. "I am Stanley." (He does know he's not. Really.)

Saturday 28 September

Damian's been volatile all day, crying at the drop of a hat, getting panicky and semi-hysterical over things that don't usually phase him (or at least not this much). Also getting more rigid -- tonight when we got home from an outing, he wanted to walk to the back yard and go in the back door because that's how he'd left the house. Um, no. Then he wanted me to hold his hand all the way inside. Um, no. We're in dangerous territory here: he may start a ritual up out of anxiety but once it sets, it often stays and is hell to get rid of.

I'm sure all the angst is from Dan's impending trip. We were discussing it in the car on the way home, and I'm sure it raised Damian's anxiety. He acted cool about it two days ago, but it's got to be far more complicated for him than he can express or maybe even know.

Monday 30 September

Damian's been playing with the notion of self image lately, I think. Three recent examples:

He looked in the small bathroom mirror, then the big one. Pointed to each, saying "Me, and me."

He took two small Playmobil dolls: a brown haired boy and a black haired woman and said the boy figure was him and the woman figure was me. He said "there are two Damians, little Damian and big Damian." He was very amused by this idea.

We were sitting together in the armchair. He declared that I was him and he was me. We had a conversation in our new roles. I pointed to his sippy cup (big cup with a straw built in, not a toddler sippy) and said, "I want something. I want juice." He picked it up, sipped from it, and said "I'm drinking from my water bottle."

Today was Silver's last day with Damian. She was clearly sad, though it's her choice to leave (mostly the commute, I think). She said she's been watching his imaginative play become more sustained, more involved, connecting ideas better and also allowing input and interaction with her characters. I see the same thing. Damian had his mice and frogs go to school. He designated one frog the Mommy and then at school she was the Teacher. And they had circle time and potty time and snack time and free play time, all dictated by Damian.

Tonight I got a sudden onslaught of pain (UTI). Dan was getting ready to go (driver coming at 10 pm to take him to the airport). Damian wanted Daddy to lie down with him -- he was being empathetic with me, which was sweet, but I think too he may have been trying to get Dan to stay or at least to spend a little more time together before heading off.

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