It appears you will be getting that pony after all. Sneaky little devil, you. As you sit in your crib throwing the mother of all I’m-Almost-Two tantrums, I love you more than ever. The nice ladies from Early On came out yesterday and tested you (us?) for almost 2 hours… and this is what they found:
You have “fluctuating muscle tone.” You don’t have great control over your muscles, which is affecting your walking and your speech. You tend to make sounds with your mouth closed, implying your voice muscles are not up to speed yet. These are both things we can work on with exercises and the program they offer through Early On. An occupational therapist is going to come visit us next week to do a more in-depth test on some of your skills. Basically, you’re doing half the stuff an 18-month kid would do… and the rest, you’re not even close on. Like, if I tell you to get me a spoon you head over to the wall and start dancing. I, personally, think this is great… but on paper, not so much.
I know, right?! I was surprised, too. The thing is, Ry… chances are really good you’ll simply outgrow this in time. Every kid is so different. But, what if we waited and you didn’t and it could have been helped? Well, that’s just unacceptable. Even for this laid-back mom. Let’s deal with this now, preventatively. You are remarkably social and interactive. This is a good indication that your “special needs” are simply physical and not emotional. Goodness knows, coming from your particular parents, you will have enough emotional needs. We’ll deal with those in junior high. Oh man, will we deal.
My favorite part of yesterday was when Ms. C asked you to stack tiny blocks on top of one another. She was looking for 5-6 blocks. You watched her example intently. You picked up two blocks and pressed them together within an inch of their wooden lives. And, then you chucked them bridal-bouquet-style over your head backwards… never taking your eyes off Ms. C. I repeat: You are absolutely the best thing ever.
It’s hard to hear you are behind… even just a little bit. I cried during the debrief… and, honestly, on and off throughout the day. I am struggling with the label of “special needs” and the fear of you not being ok. I keep picturing the children I worked with for many years that truly struggled to function. Kids who went to special schools. Kids who were lost inside themselves and couldn’t find their way out. In reality, the term “special needs” covers everything (from a national funding standpoint) from pigeon-toes and speech delays to Down Syndrome and beyond. It’s a ridiculously broad term… but it gives us access to good people with good intentions and good training, so bring it. I’m over the stigma. I’m back to life, back to reality. I’m fine. Seriously. I just needed a minute (day?) to flip out and now I’m back to the supernatural calm that is me. Apple pie, anyone?
My heart keeps coming back to Samson’s parents, Ry (the guy in the Bible with all the beautiful hair). An angel came to Samson’s mom and told her she would have a special child. When she told her husband this, he went to the angel alone and asked, “How should I care for this special child?” [Judges 13]. What a beautiful question. I pray that I will be a mom to continuously ask God that question: “How should I care for Rylie?”
My promises to you:
I will put aside my pride and hesitations and ask every question I can think of.
I will dance and walk and repeat vowel sounds with you incessantly.
I will neither take credit for your wonderfulness nor carry blame for your struggles. You are not wholly mine. This is a big one, Ry… and I admittedly have a long way to go here.
I will continue, every day, to ask God “How should I care for Rylie?”… and I will listen. Because I love you. And because you are so dadgum funny. And because you are, obviously, special.
Now, where to find a pony…