December 2002
Sunday 1 December

This morning we went to a birthday party at a kid gym. Damian wanted my company everywhere he went -- until Corey and his mom showed up. Then the two boys sought each other out. Damian climbed to the third level of the vertical maze before Corey got there (two months ago it was nearly impossible to get him up to the second level) but refused to go through the tunnel up there. After seeing Corey doing it, he not only went up, but went through. Amazing what a little peer pressure will do. He still wanted me along for moral support, though.

At one point, he was at one end of the tunnel and Corey was at the other. They shouted hello at each other (Damian's initiation) and then Damian shouted, "Corey! I love that you're my friend!"

This afternoon, Damian had a play date with a boy -- I'll have to ask his dad if he wants a pseudonym. Call the boy Pedro for now. Pedro and his daddy came over, and then we had pizza at their house and went off to watch the Hollywood Christmas parade. A very successful play date; the boys played together extremely well. Pedro is very into cops and robbers scenarios -- he designated Damian the Bad Guy and chased him, caught him, and took him off to jail. He shot at him with a toy laser gun; Damian picked up a twig and pretended it was another laser gun. They played with toy airplanes, crashing them into each other. Lots of violence? Yes, but that's fine. It's all about playing with aggression themes. In a way it allows Damian to tackle his fears of interaction head-on, and therefore probably feels great. Plus, it's what boys this age do and that's okay. It was lovely to see Damian playing as equals with a child his own age. Sophia is great but she's a year and a half younger and it shows in some ways. Corey is great (and within a few months of Damian's age) but his own issues (a certain rigidity, less than complete responsiveness, lower imaginative skills) make him less than ideal. I'm delighted with Pedro as a playmate for Damian. He's just what the doctor ordered. Sweet but pushy, insisting on interaction, coming up with imaginative scenarios (and I think responding to Damian's initiatives too).

Tuesday 3 December

Tania said Damian had a great morning. Sounds like he played well with the other kids. Outside in the yard, they were playing around a "castle" structure. Damian teamed up with Tania against two of the other kids. The others were attacking Tania. Damian protected her. They then attacked him and he fought them off. Apparently this was all great fun, with lots of spontaneous, non-prompted interactive play. Later, he played at airplanes with Jules.

Good time at the afternoon school too. Kahuna said Damian initiated interaction with other kids, ended up playing with a whole range of children during the afternoon. When I got there, he was playing with Kahuna and two other boys, playing with paper puppet monsters. Damian had named his "Eater" and was having it eat everything in sight. He doesn't quite get the idea of making it a completely interactive game, though -- he was having it eat markers instead of trying to eat the other monsters.

Kahuna said something I've noticed too -- Damian doesn't always know how to engage other kids, how to invite them into his play. He tends to just start playing on his own and hope that lures them instead of saying, "Hey, wanna play monsters?" or something similar. And when you say "Ask her to come over," he'll just ask the air in a normal tone of voice even though the kid he wants is across the yard and can't possibly hear him. He's not putting together that he has to either go closer or raise his voice. He's missing that understanding of the way we cue each other. This is where a social skills class probably comes in, though we and his floor timers can certainly work on it too.

Wednesday 4 December

Got a glimpse into how his teachers see him today. Streak told me that Tania is very amused by Damian, always smiling at things he says and does (as am I), that she and he have a kind of private language, almost -- that something will happen, they'll talk about it, and then later she'll refer to it with him "Remember that?" That kind of thing. The way she described it sounded lovely. Damian's very lucky. I'm also so very pleased that he's showing his true self so much at school now. Finally. And later, Nora said that she overheard Damian in the hallway with Streak, telling her "I like playing with you, Streak." Nora seemed amused and pleased.

On our way to meet Heidi in the park, the wind whipped Damian's velcro'd jacket open. He refastened it and told me, "The wind wanted me to be cold but I wanted to be warm."

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