“I want McDonalds,” came Danny’s voice down the stairs.
“You can’t have McDonalds right now, Danny,” followed Eric’s voice softly. “It’s late. McDonalds is closed.”
It was over an hour past bed time, but still talking and laughter came from their room. When I put Andrew to bed and walked past their open door, Eric sat on his top bunk reaching down, and Danny stood below waving and giggling. I knew I should put an end to it and shoo them into bed…but it was hard to do.
See, when I found out I was having a second boy, I imagined late nights in bunk beds with two brothers talking, whispering jokes, teasing and laughing. Once Danny was born and we learned he was deaf, I thought I had to give that up. How could you sign while in separate bunks? We learned about cochlear implants and I worried a little – I mean, he’d sleep with them off – but maybe he’d keep them on long enough…
Then the “other” crept in, the missing social piece, the difficulty speaking, the global delays. With each little bit of the “other,” I saw those bunk bed conversations drift away.
By now, they were a distant memory, almost forgotten and well left behind…
…until I heard those voices drifting. So I let them go on a little longer than I should have, simply because it made me smile.
I am hopefully going to be going back in time over the next little bit and putting down all the stuff I wanted to but haven’t over the last few months. I had really wanted to keep using pictures in all posts, but honestly, not going to happen. The time it takes to download a picture, crop it, and upload it…is pretty much all the time I have before Andrew is demanding attention again, so the actual blogging doesn’t happen…and I want this stuff down!
Eric has written his letter to Santa, and it amuses me greatly. He sat down to write it with the intent of correcting his verbal request to Santa the day before: he wants a 3ds, not a regular ds like he had said. Well, while he was writing, he went and grabbed the Toys R Us ad for the week and went nuts. He wants a Wii.U and a game for it, a 3ds, 2 Pokemon games, a Batman game, Skylanders, another game…”and I love you, Santa.” Just in case, you know, he needed a few extra points to get his list filled. (We have had a discussion on how Santa does not bring seventeen million expensive gifts, heh.)
Danny got to visit Santa this year too, in a special way – one of the malls had a “caring Santa” time before the mall opened in the morning for special needs kids. They brought him in early and made a quiet, safe environment. They were right across from the play area in the mall, and the few kids there went one by one from the playground straight to Santa. There were no lines, no loud noises and chaos, and staff who “got it.” We were not forced to buy their packages, either… In fact, they offered to take pictures with my camera so I could be up there with Danny helping him through the interaction. Danny walked up, gave Santa a big high five, then giggled and said, “ho ho ho!” He sat by Santa, with me beside him, and cheesed for the camera…no rush, just letting us do what we needed to do. I felt bad that I was not buying anything, so I asked if I could leave a tip and was shot down quite handily.
It was so neat.
Andrew wasn’t so into sitting on Santa’s lap though, ha. He did the day before, though.
Ho ho ho!
Danny’s language has truly been expanding lately. Much of it very few people would understand, mind you, but it is there and he is using it! He does a lot of echoing when he isn’t sure how to respond, but he is tossing in more and more of his own thoughts too instead of the one word answers he used to give.
For example, this morning I asked him if he wanted to go to the park. 6 months ago, the best I could hope for was “Yeah! Park!” Now?
“No park…” (think, think, think) “Yeah! Park! Let’s go to the park! Yeah! Go play at the park! Go to the park playground!”
A veritable speech! All while bouncing around waiting for me to get my shoes on and unlock the door to the garage. A few more “Yeah! Go play at the park!” announcements were made while we loaded up, and away we went.
Awesome! A nice morning out! We were set to meet up with my moms club too, who I haven’t seen in about a month due to various visits, illnesses, etc. I was so psyched!
Until, after about 20 minutes, Danny came up with another of his speeches…
“Yeah! Go home! Get in the car, go home!”
Well, ok then… So much for that.
“I noticed, on some games, that there are no lines. But then in Daddy’s game – you remember Daddy’s game? Where there was the guy with the green hand? Well, Daddy just kept fighting him and taking away his life, and then – kablooey! – he just took away a lot of his life, but not all of his life… He just had this much life left. But Daddy had lots more life left, until the guy kept healing himself and healing himself. Daddy should have been able to heal himself too, but he couldn’t. Well, that game had lines, but some games don’t.”
“Hey Mommy, you remember you were telling me about your boyfriend one day?”
“I was talking to Daddy, and he said I should keep an eye out for your boyfriend and tell him when I see him come around. Daddy will just wrestle him, because you’re only supposed to have one boyfriend and that’s Daddy.”
Eric, who turned 6 this summer, has had…a rough time of it. He loves his friends, his school, his routine, and none of those things were readily available this summer! Add in a whole lot of heat keeping us inside, a new baby brother taking a lot of attention, and having to accommodate outings for Danny, and it’s been…something.
There have been 3 things that have really helped us get through this summer without going insane. I put all 3 to use at around the same time, and it was amazing the change in Eric’s behavior! He is still strong willed and full of attitude, but it isn’t nearly as constant or as biting as it used to be, nor is he as close to anger (or tears) all the time.
The first is simply a bit of an afternoon structure tailored for him. Every afternoon during the week, he does “rest time.” This is not to be confused with “quiet time” (our time out), but it’s basically the same: he has to go up to his room and spend half an hour chilling out. His method of choice is to grab a book or three and climb into bed. He doesn’t have to – he could be in Danny’s bed, he could hang out in his bean bag, he could play with his toys up there quietly – but he needs to be away, alone, and unplugged. (Music doesn’t count as unplugged though, he can put on a CD if he wants to.) After that, we sit down at the table together. I picked up a few activity books at the teacher’s store, and we’ve been working through one about telling time. We do a few pages of that, and he does a few pages of connect-the-dots, one of his current favorites. Sometimes I get him to write in the journal that school sent home, but not often – he’s not a big fan of that yet, and I don’t like to push him and make him do it spitefully.
The second thing started as a system of rewards and punishments, though it quickly morphed into my boredom buster. We went through a period, at about the middle of summer break, of “I’m bored!” “It’s boring!” “I have nothing to do!” So, in response, I bought a collection of colored popsicle sticks at Walmart and took out the red, yellow, and green ones. I keep them in the bottom half of a plastic sunflower seeds container with a sheet of construction paper taped around the inside, because that is how classy I am (and it was the best thing I could come up with at the time). The main thing I needed was something to hold them together closely and to block off the view of the bottoms, because on the bottoms most of them have something written on them. Red ones have chores on them – sweep the kitchen, dust the living room, etc. These are for when he’s seriously out of line and I need to get him to do something to calm down and get out of whatever mood he’s in. Yellow ones have activities on them – playdough, blocks, read a book, draw a picture, write a note, that sort of thing. The original intention was for me to send him to get one whenever he was complaining that he was bored, but he thought they were cool enough that he just uses them on his own to come up with ideas of things to do! I never have to send him for one now, he just does it himself. Green ones are rewards for particularly good stuff, like exceptional behavior out of the house, going above and beyond helping, etc. Most of the green ones are blank, and he gets to collect them to earn tattoos or extra video game time – but one or two have an instant reward on them, just to add to the fun. He really digs it, and sometimes he’ll stop and ask if he’s doing well enough to “earn a green.”
The third and best thing I have in the house is this little guy. We use the timer for everything it seems! I got it mostly to track video game time; Eric’s behavior seems to crash if he’s played too much video games, and I’d been trying just to wing keeping a handle on it…but I was failing pretty miserably. Enter the timer. Eric respects the timer in a way he doesn’t respect me just saying, “Time to stop!” If I tell him to stop, I get whining and complaining and stomping. If the timer turns red? He shuts it off. “Mommy, it turned red – I’m going to go ___ now!” I do let him wiggle it a little – I’ll let him get to a saving point in the game – but it’s worked great. We use it, also, to time rest time and time outs, to moderate turn taking, you name it. I like this particular one because it has a yellow “warning” light that we can set for the last 5 or 10 minutes, so he knows the end is coming…but I don’t really like that you can’t see how much time has elapsed otherwise.
What are some things you’ve done to help establish order this summer?
(Linking up to Let’s Hear it For the Boys!)