Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cut me some slack

Today after I picked up the girls from school, I was driving out of the parking lot when I heard a whistle and saw two people running toward me, trying to get me to stop. I immediately realized that I had forgotten to put Hannah's walker in the trunk of my car before driving away.

This is the second time it's happened in a month.

I also ran over her walker a few weeks ago because I did the same thing at home, but that time I put the car in reverse and just drove right into it.

I think I must be losing my mind. Or just acting like the frazzled mom of a special needs kid who has 2 other kids and a part-time job and is trying to keep her head above water.

Either way, when I put the car in reverse to retrieve the neglected walker today, I was totally embarassed and said sheepishly to the person who had flagged me down, "I can't believe I did this AGAIN." Her reply, "First of all, she NEEDS her walker and second of all, someone could come around the corner and pull right into that spot and run it over." (Little did she know it has already survived one such encounter). It was hard to tell if she was truly giving me a hard time or kidding around and lately, I take everything personally (being super-sensitive seems to be a major by product of sleep deprivation, at least for me). I kind of think it was the former, because as I drove away, I felt like an even bigger heel than I already did.

I know it's completely ridiculous that I can't learn my lesson about putting the walker in the car. I also think it's a symptom of what's going on in my world right now. I've been trying hard to be gentle with myself and not beat myself up over this and my many other shortcomings. It would be nice if others could cut me some slack as well.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Reclaiming winter

I think I have a post from last winter with the same title, posted after we took the girls skiing for the first time. Well, we went again this year. Actually, we went cross-country skiing one weekend and downhill two weekends later. Cross-country we did on our own and downhill was with the help of the local adaptive skiing program, which totally rocks. Both activities were so much fun and made us yearn to go again. We still need to figure out the equipment thing and we realized that at this stage, both girls are such beginners that they really just need some time to stomp around on skiis in the backyard without us shelling out a whole bunch of cash for lessons. We just need to get some gear for them. Of course for Hannah, going downhill is much easier if she has the adaptive equipment offered by the program, but even for her, just getting her on her feet on skiis is exciting for her and a good experience. It's nice that at this early stage, both girls are almost equal in their abilities (except that Hannah can't stand on her own unless her poles are firmly planted in the snow)! So there is not a great sense of someone being left behind. I love that there are so many options for Hannah especially with downhill as she gets older. If she is interested and into it, she can probably be an independent skier some day, with outriggers or a snow slider. Exciting to think that we might truly be a skiing family, despite Hannah's CP.

So if you're a snow-loving family and have a kiddo with a disability, don't despair. It's amazing what opportunities are out there. Where there's a will,there's a way!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mean kids

I have often said that I worry about what Hannah might face when she gets older, because I know kids can be mean. But up until today, I have not witnessed this meanness and have instead been pleasantly surprised by most interactions we've had with other kids. I have come across curious kids, interested kids, kind kids, kids who are oblivious to her difference, kids who are drawn to her because of it...but I had not yet witnessed what I would classify as a mean-spirited kid.

The girls' preschool is an early education/intervention program which is housed in a classroom in the elementary school. So we often encounter older kids in the hallway or on the school grounds. Depending on the time of day, sometimes we can get caught in the middle of a major traffic jam of kids walking in the halls. Today as we were leaving their class, another class of older kids (probably around 8-10 years old) was in the hall. There was the usual gawking at Hannah that happens, especially because when there are that many other people around, Hannah gets really distracted and tends to stop in her tracks and stare at them like a deer in the headlights. But then one boy leaned into his friend and said, "Hey, look at THAT," as he kicked at her walker wheels with his foot.

I looked right at him and said, "This is Hannah." And he said, "What's THAT THING for?" in a loud and not-so-nice voice. And I said, "It's her walker, and it helps her to get around." And he said, "Why does she need THAT?" and at that point, the snake of kids he was a part of continued on its way and he was past us and walking down the stairs so I didn't answer. I also didn't answer because I thought I would not be able to do so calmly anymore, as his nasty tone and inquisition was starting to get on my nerves.

In so many other ways and a different tone of voice, this kid's questions and comments would not be so unnerving. But it was the WAY he said it that really got under my skin. I had the urge to smack him upside his head. I also wanted to know where his teacher was, and why she wasn't stepping in to use it as an opportunity to teach some manners and respect for differences.

This little interaction soured my whole day. It made me frustrated with Hannah as we were leaving the school and she was refusing to walk because she didn't want to go home. It made me frustrated with her again tonight when she was difficult to stretch. And it made me frustrated with myself because life is so crazy busy right now and I feel like we have so little time to do for her what we need to help her progress.

So there it was: our first mean kid.

I'm sure it won't be the last.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Conversations you don't hear in every house

I was helping Hannah practice walking with her forearm crutches tonight (which she asked to do) when she turned to me and said, "Mommy, I just REALLY want to walk without any adult's help. I have a walker and crutches and glasses, and it's taking SO LONG for me to learn how to do it on my own." And then she added, "And my belly hurts, too."

I'm so glad she added the belly hurting part because it made me realize that for Hannah, at least right now, she sees her limitations as a frustrating obstacle like a belly ache, and she doesn't attach all the other emotional baggage to it that we (the adults in her life) all do. I know this won't last forever but I'm glad that for now, this is where she's at with it.

It's so tempting to respond to these comments by saying, "Well, if you work hard enough, someday you WILL walk on your own without anyone's help" because this may not be true, and it won't be because she didn't work hard enough. So I try to tell her that we are working on getting her stronger and more independent using her walker and then maybe someday, using crutches. And I acknowledge that it stinks and is frustrating that she can't do it on her own right now.

I so admire her four year old approach to her disability, because from the outside it does not seem to cause her to act victimized, defeated or discouraged by her limits. It is simply the way it is for her. I want to try to be more like her.