Tuesday, February 5, 2013

On Mom Guilt...

As far as we know, Amelia is what we consider "neurotypical". She has some speech articulation issues, which I find adorable at this point ( eg. "Ho-wee Mo-wee!" for Holy Moly; "Goyah" for Girl, etc.), and she can be very shy in social situations, but otherwise seems pretty darn "normal" (whatever that is. In my opinion, NOBODY is completely "normal"...).  She loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, specifically Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck, loves to play with cars and trucks and stuffed animals, loves horseplay and being tossed and flipped all over the place, and enjoys art. She is also one of the most empathetic children I have ever known--she bursts into tears if she thinks you're upset with her. She will even cry if she sees me crying (okay, maybe I accidentally made her cry once by pretending to cry..it was not my proudest parenting moment. Hey, I didn't know she'd actually cry!!). If she accidentally hurts, you--let's say, she accidentally scratches you or bumps into you--she apologizes and kisses you wherever she thinks you hurt. I think she's pretty socially average, for a 3-year-old, and pretty awesome, too. 

 Sometimes, though, I kind of worry that Anderson's, shall we say... "interesting"...social behaviors have impacted Amelia's social functioning.  Anderson didn't really start attempting to play "with" Amelia until probably 6 months ago, and prior to preschool, the kids had an in-home sitter--so the opportunities for same-age interaction for her was limited, to say the least.  Now, they "play" together daily, but I use that term loosely because really, it's more Anderson convincing Amelia to participate in elevator play in a very ritualistic way--he makes her go in and out of the elevator (bedroom doors) over and over, sometimes asking her to repeat certain words each time.  She accommodates him probably 75% of the time, which I personally think is extremely generous of her, since I honestly get tired of the elevator game like two minutes after we start playing.  Sometimes, she gets adventurous and tries to get him to deviate from the game in some way--yeah, 9/10 times, that's a no-go for Anderson.  Other than that, they don't play together. They still participate in parallel play quite a bit, but they're really getting to the age where that should fade (They'll be FOUR on Sunday! Where did the time go???).  Bottom line--we didn't provide either of them with a lot of same-age peer time until preschool, and the socialization with Anderson was not quite typical.

Amelia has received two progress reports from preschool now. The first time around, we had a parent-teacher conference, and her teacher spoke very highly of Amelia but indicated that her biggest concern was Amelia's lack of interest in playing with friends.  Amelia would participate successfully in circle time and other whole-group educational situations, but when they split into centers with friends, she preferred to play alone. She wasn't alarmed, but said she just hoped Amelia would make a friend.  I wasn't too concerned, but I did encourage her to play with others.  We just received the 2nd report, and, to make a long story short, there is some concern with Amelia's language development, in addition to the lack of socialization.  Now, I just got back from out-of-town, so I haven't had time to talk to Marty or her teacher about it (I just read it like, 30 minutes ago), but I'm starting to grow a bit more concerned. I know we work really, really hard to provide language-development opportunities for Amelia, and I know she is super-smart and has a great memory, so I am not sure what's going on here.

 Here's where I'm at:  I can't help but let a little bit of guilt sneak in because I feel like we've devoted so much time to Anderson and figuring out his diagnosis and everything that goes along with it--maybe we've overlooked something? I don't know...I just don't know.  This is one of the most difficult things about having children of the same age--sometimes, there's just not enough of you to go around, and everyone is needy.  It would break my heart to think I neglected something going on with her because I was so overwhelmed with what was going on with him.  My plan is to try not to worry too much about it until I can speak with the teacher, but who am I kidding? I am the most anxious person you'll ever meet; I'm going to worry.  Looks like I'll be having a parent-teacher conference soon.

In the meantime, of COURSE I have to add a little humor to this post. It wouldn't be right if I didn't.  As described above, Amelia was playing along with Anderson's elevator game pretty well this past weekend. I bought some Tap Lights (remember those awesome infomercials?) at Wal-Mart, we stuck some push-pins in the wall, and voila, real man buttons!  Of course, their curiosity wouldn't let them leave the man buttons on the wall; they had them all off and on the kitchen table in about 30 minutes.  Anderson was perseverating on some small elevator nuance, and Amelia was kind of doing her own thing; I was drinking coffee on the couch and only half-listening while watching the news. All of a sudden, this is what I hear Amelia say:

"Hi, little man button! We're going to put you back on the wall! Hey, maybe a Mouseketool will help! Everybody say, 'Oh, Toodles!'".

Only she would find a way to incorporate HER favorite--Mickey Mouse--with HIS favorite--elevators. I love that girl.


  1. Gosh, I know what you mean. Whatever weird thing luc is doing, Etienne tries to imitate, like he doesn't do enough weirdness on his own!
    I think approaching it the way we do with Cecile might be a good perspective for you guys.
    Yes, its not fair to have to deal with autism weirdness but she will be a much more understanding, compassionate person for it. I think her incorporating Mickey into the game proves it: she gets it and makes it work! A very good skill to have;)

    1. I love that perspective! I hope it plays out exactly like that.