We all say it every year; “I can’t believe how fast time flies” as our child’s birthday approaches. It really does seem to go faster and faster as our children get older. My oldest is 26 and I remember nearly everything about the day he was born and it is hard to believe that little baby is now a grown man. Jake will be 7 in a few days; and yes, it is hard to believe and yes, time has gone super-fast!
On the day my boy was born everything seemed fine. My mother’s intuition told me something was not quite right but at the time I just didn’t know what. He was a big and chunky baby who was super cute and just the right size for cuddling. I think about that first year and how out of sorts I felt. He wasn’t like my other kids; he wouldn’t cuddle or want to be held. He wasn’t unhappy but he wasn’t happy. He would smile and laugh but it took a lot to get him there. Once he realized he could make us smile or laugh he would do things to get the feedback he wanted. I remember wanting to snuggle with him when he was about 4 months old, I craved it so desperately, so I thought ‘I’m just going to pick him up and hug him whether he cries or not’. He screamed. He sounded like he was in pain. I remember putting him back in his bouncy seat and a smile lit up across his face. I was glad he was happy in his chair but in all honesty, I felt like a failure. I knew I wasn’t as I had my other kids but I just didn’t know what to do with Jake. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to teach him the smallest things. Jake had no interest in saying da-da or ma-ma. I tried to teach him to wave, drink from a sippy cup and imitate the smallest gestures. He would look at me but with a blank stare. I kept pressing on. I remember being at lunch with a couple of friends and I was bound and determined to get the boy to wave before his sister came back from visiting her grandparents in NY; Jake was about 16 months old. I kept at it for a solid week. Nothing I did seemed to work and I was getting so frustrated. At the time I knew it didn’t matter but I wanted to teach him something, just one thing!! Geeze, thinking back on this makes me tired. I remember everything and feeling so disconnected from my child. Little did I know this was the beginning of a very hard but awesome journey. By the way, Jake didn’t learn to wave until he was around 3 1/2 or so. He started with the backward wave and over the past year and a half can now wave at me without any effort or thought!
Thanks to a “million” hours of therapy Jake is now doing so many things on his own and learning at a rapid pace. Seriously, there is nothing this boy cannot do. Some things take a bit longer to learn due to his lack of fine and gross motor skills but those are coming along. The other night it was bedtime and usually John helps Jake get his pj’s on but that night Jake said “dad, you stay here. I’m going to dress myself!” He came running out of his room so incredibly proud saying “I did it!” He put on his pj’s all by himself and although they were backwards it was huge. He knows he can dress himself and does from time to time but I am usually making him do it and it is a fight. But to hear him declare he would do it by himself was a bonus. Little does he know he has shown us he can do it and will be doing more of his own dressing going forward; should be fun – ha!
Jake is in the first grade and started the year with a full-time aide, Mrs. K. His aide is fabulous and sits back to see what Jake can do and only jumps in when the time is right. We absolutely love this woman!! When school started back after Christmas break we reduced the time Mrs. K. is with Jake; she is with him in the morning for about 2 1/2 hours. The IEP team agreed he could handle being in class without her and his awesome teacher, Mrs. Spiker, assured us she would look out for him. She keeps us informed and will let us know if she feels Jake needs more one on one help. Jake has adjusted well and the only complaint I have heard from Jake is that he misses his Mrs. K. Mrs. Spiker is working hard with him to get him ready for the second grade and although it can be a struggle he is following directions and is a part of the classroom with minimal support.
A few days ago I asked Jake what color his behavior clip landed on for the day. Each day the kids start off on green and move it up or down depending on their behaviors. For the most part Jake lands on green or blue but this particular day it was below green and landed on yellow which means caution. I asked him why his clip was on yellow; he closed his eyes and put his head down. I asked him again and he whispered “Mrs. Spiker told me to stay in my seat but I didn’t”. He then told me all the reasons why he needed to get up and lastly he said it hurt him to sit for so long. I asked him if he had his tools to help him sit (wiggle cushion, weighted lap pad) and he said he didn’t need them. At the end of the conversation he now knows he needs them in order to follow directions. Funny thing is he knows when he needs his “tools” and usually self-advocates for the things he needs. So he has learned to make excuses too — ha! But the cool thing is he knows what he needs. He has learned to get the tools we’ve given him when situations become too much. This has got to be one of my favorite parts of this journey so far.
Jake is super excited about his upcoming birthday. In the past, birthdays have been hard but now they are a lot of fun for him! He told me exactly what he wants to do and what gifts he wants but the thing he is most excited about is that he can now blow out candles on his birthday donut (Jake won’t eat cake)! Back in November when it was Allie’s birthday he was happy he wasn’t afraid of the candles. A few weeks later I had a candle burning and he wanted to blow it out, afterwards he starting jumping up and down so excited saying “I can blow out my candles on my donut now!” It’s the not so little things that I love to see!
This boy will be 7 on Thursday….how time flies!