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Wednesday, September 7, 2016
Special Needs, Interrupted
Today, I sent my daughter off to middle school. We've been prepping for it, essentially, all of August. She needed EVERYTHING...clothes, supplies, outerwear, boots, backpack...That kid is harder on clothing than either of my boys, I swear it. I forgot to get her a haircut, but I guess that's okay.
Next week, a week from today, in fact, Tiny heads to preschool. So not only do I have DQ starting MS, I have Tiny in Pre3. I feel ridiculously old this week. There are nine years between DQ and Tiny. There's sixteen months (two school years) between Tiny and Squeaky. And yet, quite often, I feel as though I have a teenager and twin toddlers. DQ seems years older than she should be, and with Tiny delayed as he is, he and Squeaky are pretty much on par verbally. They are worlds away from each other cognitively and physically, but it's hard to remember that when Tiny can't even ask for a certain toy instead of pushing.
Having a special needs middle child is kind of this weird interruption of normal life. Here we are, having kids... DQ is smart and funny and sassy. She does well enough in school, finally finds her tribe of friends, and really starts flourishing as a kid. And then on the other end of the divide, you have Squeaky, who is often too serious, but has bouts of silliness that make you wonder what's really going on in his little brain. He plays well, he's sweet, and out of the three...he's the easy one. Good-natured and laid-back, that's my Squeaky.
And then smack in the middle of everything is Tiny, with all of his problems and struggles. He doesn't understand cause and effect, he steals toys and shoves, he cries and bangs his head in frustration. We are coming up on D-Day (diagnosis day) for him, and the closer we inch to it, the more I realize how wonderful and carefree our first two years with him were, before we knew. Having a special needs kiddo as my middle makes all "normal" behavior in our family stutter and falter as we try so hard to keep up with his needs; I often wonder what life would be like if we had been dealt a better hand.
I find myself looking forward to the "normal" things I'll get to do with Squeaky, once Tiny is off to school. Things that Tiny can't handle, like the Children's Museum, because it's too busy and noisy all of the time. I'm looking forward to library sing-alongs, which we haven't been able to go to because Tiny can't tolerate singing. I'm looking forward to baby dance parties in my living room, which we don't normally do because Tiny gets upset when he can't make his body do what he wants. I can't wait to play in the play area in the mall with Squeaky, which I avoid now because Tiny is so distracted by the mall shops that he won't stay in the play area for more than five minutes after arrival.
Sometimes I feel like TS has interrupted our life so badly that I can't even remember where we were before it happened. Like we suddenly lost power in the middle of a good movie, and I keep trying to rewind to find our place. And everytime I get close, the power goes out again. Don't get me wrong: We still do have good days, but we rarely have "normal" days - normal by NT standards, anyway. Our days tend to have quantitative benchmarks attached: I only yelled once today; I got five loads of laundry done; Tiny got BOTH naps; the boys were happy in their swings for more than ten minutes; I drank five ounces of my iced eight ounce espresso before it got gross and watery. I guess I'm looking forward to a little less interruption, even if it's only three hours a day, four days a week...and a little more normalcy while Tiny gets the help he needs.