Thursday, July 28, 2011

Highs and Lows

Much like Midwestern seasonal weather extremes (can I get an "enough already!" to this oppressive heat and humidity?), my days with a toddler come loaded with some high highs and some low lows.

Take this morning, for example.

Wait, let me back up a bit. During Owen's 2-year doctor visit a couple weeks ago, I expressed some concern that he seemed to show zero interest in participating in any activities that required him to sit still and concentrate for any length of time — like coloring and doing puzzles. I'm pretty sure the doc responded with something to the effect of "some kids are more physical, some are more intellectual." As disappointed as I was in the thought that my little guy is not as "intellectual" as I think he should be, I accepted the fact that all kids develop at different stages and he will eventually get to the puzzle stage.

(Side note: I have a very bad habit of comparing Owen to other children within his same general age range, which always results in me feeling frustrated and concerned. I need to remind myself [a lot!] that he is unique — which is not the same thing as deficient — and to just cool it and be patient!)

Anyway, back to this morning... We had a little time to kill before we needed to leave for our morning activity (more on that below), so I took the opportunity to just sit down on the floor with him and read a couple Dr. Suess books (my favorites!) After a couple of stories, he pulled out a wooden puzzle that happens to be mixed in among his books, so I dug around in the book drawer and took out all six corresponding puzzle pieces. I set them all face up and then, one by one, I asked him where each one fit (it was pretty simple to figure out because an identical picture of the puzzle piece was visible in each of the open spots).

He correctly pointed out each one and then — low and behold! — he fit each one in its proper place! I made a VERY big deal each time he got one right (think loud cheering, high fives, and lots of "great jobs!") I tried to get him to complete it a second time, but he was more interested in clapping the wooden puzzle pieces together, so I took that as my cue to just quit while I was ahead. Anyway, I was so thrilled with the progress he made!

Then it was time to leave for our morning outing — Toddler Games at the YMCA. The description for this class, designed for kids aged 18 months – 3 years, said: "This is a chance for something new each week. Activities may include Kickball,  Simon Says, Parachute Games,  and many more fun games." That sounds like something he would really enjoy!

I was a little hesitant to sign him up (and pay for) the full 5-week session, though, because, well, let's just say that Owen does not exactly enjoy going to the Y. We actually hadn't been there since this past winter when we stopped going because he would have a major fit every time we left him in the nursery. Now that he's older and some time has passed, I thought it might be OK to try it out again a couple days ago, but again, he had a major meltdown (I'm talking, red in the face, snot out the nose, screaming as if he were terrified!), so we ended up leaving only 9 short minutes after checking him in. Bleh.

Anyway, back to the Toddler Games. In this class, the parents stay in the room — although we are not supposed to play with the kids, we're just there to watch — so I thought he might do OK. Yeah, not so much. He clung to me with all his might and refused to even look at, let alone go with, the instructors. The 30-minute class consisted of the kids walking/running around the track (I had to hold O's hand and practically drag him), followed by a simple golf lesson where each child took turns hitting a golf ball off a tee with little plastic clubs (O enjoyed swinging and banging his club onto the floor and walls much more than allowing the instructors to help him actually hit the ball), and finally another lap around the track (this time Owen actually started to run with one of the leaders, but as soon as he looked behind him and saw that I wasn't with him, he turned around and ran back toward me.)

So much for my proud moment of only an hour or so before that. Hmmmph.

I should mention that Owen did appear to be the youngest child in the class, although the next in age was only a couple months older, and the class is supposed to be designed for kids even younger than him! Regardless, it is frustrating when yours is the only kid in the group who just doesn't seem to "get" it. And this is not the first time I've felt this way.

So, here it is: I worry that he's developing at a slower pace than other children his age. And yes, I do worry about what the other parents are thinking (I'm not proud of that, but I'm being honest here). I try not to do either of those things. I try to just let him be. I try to believe that he is perfectly normal and will grow up just fine. I try to trust in God, who loves him even more than I do.

But today, I'm struggling. I want him to be healthy. I want him to be good. I want him to be "normal." I'm hopeful that he is/will be. But I still worry that he won't.

Whew. This post turned into a bit more of a mother's confession of worry/guilt/doubt/fear than what I originally set out for it to be. But I think I'll publish it anyway — for the sake of documenting this crazy journey I'm on, if nothing else.

In the meantime, here's a couple cute shots of Owen at the local firehouse yesterday.

Holding hands and giggling up a storm with his buddy Evie.

Sitting in the firetruck. He would not allow the fireman on the other side
to help him out. Instead he cried, and ran to me.

One thing I am thankful for is that I am Owen's safe place. He has a safe place. And it is me. That, despite everything else, is such a blessing for which I am eternally grateful!


  1. First, his haircut. Ohmyword. Such a big boy and so darn handsome. Second, I wish I could give you a big hug. You are so honest here. I think moms, by some instinct compare. It's hard not too. Just know that whatever the future holds for Owen, God knows him as an old man and has HUGE plans for him. God has gone ahead of him and secured a place for him in heaven, where the only thing that will matter is praising Him all day long and resting in the comfort of His arms.

    Also - toddler games... oh toddler games, I don't even know what to say about it besides that my experiences with it weren't that great, but it was something to do to get out of the house and have M do something outside of the home...

    I am not always convinced that the pediatrician knows all, either. For example, with my anxieties about M's eating habits I don't want to be told "it's fine. He's a toddler. He'll grow out of it." Hello, can someone pay me the big bucks to say that to moms? With all due respect to pediatricians (and we love ours!), I really hate the "well... he's a toddler" answer :)

  2. Your honesty and vulnerability in posting this is so refreshing! I think all mom's have the exact same fear you have that our children are "normal", healthy, happy, etc...but you are so right to just trust in God and give it some time! I don't know Owen too well, but from what I've seen on your blog (and from what I've heard from Rachel), he seems like a very smart (and cute) little boy! - Dusty

  3. Sweetie, you need to RELAX. I'm not sure why you're so worried - Owen is developing nicely. All kids are different. For example, Will is racing around on his tricycle like he owns the neighborhood (which I didn't manage until I was 3), but he isn't much of a talker (whereas I was yakking up a storm by around 18 mos. and Keith's mom told him that he didn't really start to talk until he was 3.) As far as physical v. intellectual, I think it's kind of ridiculous for your ped to even phrase it in those terms - their TODDLERS, for goodness' sake! NO ONE is an intellectual 2 year old. Not even Einstein. (Especially Einstein, who didn't talk until he was, like, 5, or something.) But there is something I've noticed, and this has been supported by my friends who have children of both sexes, and that is that little boys are more physical than little girls. Little boys gain motor skills (both gross and fine) earlier than girls, and little girls gain communication skills earlier than boys.

    But the most important thing (in my opinion, at least) is to remember to enjoy your child, however they are :) They'll get where they need to be soon enough, and its always better to focus on the positive in the day. Go puzzle-work!!! -Amanda

  4. Hey Mary...I have been wanting to comment on this post since you wrote it but wasn't quite sure what to say. I struggle with that sometimes...not always knowing what to say. And then it dawned on me that I don't necessarily have to have anything philosophical to say...right? I just want you to know that I empathize with you. I completely understand your worry about Owen. Not because I worry about him too, but because I can understand the worry you feel for your child as a mother. All mom's's built into our DNA. Because we love and care so much for these precious beings we created. Our hearts ooze with overwhelming emotions to love and protect - and in turn, our brains ooze with fears and worry. It's natural. And some moms do a better job at organizing and filing those worries and fears than other moms. That's okay. So, basically I guess I just wanted you to know that I understand how you feel and I won't tell you you are being irrational to worry…because I get it. And if you ever need an outlet or even a shoulder to cry on, you can always call me. :) Love you!