Happy Birthday, darling sweet wonderful Ben!!! The celebratory tone was slightly muted due to the fact that the Birthday Boy was sick. Yes, on his birthday. He started showing signs of an ear infection (his first ever, I'm glad to say) yesterday at daycare, and by early evening, he was a Very Unhappy Camper. Today we kept him home and took him to the pediatrician, who put him on antibiotics. By this evening, he was showing a bit of progress, and we're hopeful that might return to preschool on Thursday.
The upside was that he got to spend a lot more time with his visiting grandparents today than he otherwise would have -- as did I, since I had to spend at least part of the day at home with him. My parents have been in town for a couple of days, and Neil's arrived this evening. So Ben is surrounded by love, attention, cuddles, balloons, and (as of this evening) a riotous cacophony of presents and wrapping paper.
Ben, I can never get over the unbelievably great fortune of having you in my life.
P.S. Thanks for all the comments on my last post -- I'll have an update soon on How We're Coping.
Well, no, he's not three yet. Almost. But he's certainly gotten a jump start. Lots of parents have told me that "Terrible Twos" is a vicious lie; the threes are far worse. Now, when Ben turned two, he did take it up a notch in terms of testing limits and sometimes actively resisting us. But we figured out good ways to respond, and I was patting myself on the back for having survived the "Terrible Twos". Until a month or so ago. Oy, ve. Some days it feels like everything is a frickin' battle. His favorite word these days is "NO!", and if his mouth is full or he's too busy singing (which is often the case), he'll sign it just as vehemently. And while I am profoundly glad that he takes so much pleasure in music, it's also his defensive shield against anything he finds distasteful or anything that represents parental will. And you know, it's kinda hard to tell your deaf child whom you feared would never be able to enjoy music to stop singing for pete's sake and listen to you.
So what do the parenting experts say? Be consistent. Yeah, I get it -- don't make empty threats; if you say no, stick with it; don't give in to tantrums; etc. In other words, a long list of "don'ts". What I really need are some good "dos". Exactly what do you do when you've got to get out the door in ten minutes and your child refuses to let you brush his teeth or put his shoes on and throws a screaming fit when you even suggest that he needs to wear a jacket and also insists on singing the entire Peter Paul and Mary repertoire every time you try to explain the consequences of his poor decisions? Seriously, I'm asking. If any of you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them. Losing my temper and shouting doesn't work; trust me, I've tried that.
Well, it works for a short time. But it makes me feel pretty lousy (not to mention Ben), and it's not sustainable -- over time, we would need to get even more demonstrably angry with each new incident to have the same effect.
So far this is the best advice I've gotten, from several sources:
1. Give choices. A short list of concrete choices, enumerated on your fingers, including the final option of "Or do you want Mommy to choose for you?"
2. Explain the natural consequences of poor choices. "If you keep stalling, we won't have time to play before dinner. So you can choose to put your pants on now, or you can choose to wait a minute until you're ready, or you can choose to wait longer and not be able to play."
3. Don't be in such a rush. Either give up on getting out the door in ten minutes, or try to start the process a little earlier.
4. Take the drama out of it. Instead of responding with annoyance and anger, remain completely unimpressed by any demonstrations of violent three-ness. Register an expression of wan disinterest.
These are all great tips, and we've managed to implement all of them occasionally to good effect. But they're beastly hard to implement all the time. So I'd love to hear your advice. Please. Do I sound desperate?
Okay, this may seem a little out of place on this blog, but I still think you should read it and share these ideas with others. I'm a huge believer in academic freedom and the value of an environment in which an open, honest, and intellectually rigorous exchange of ideas can take place. I have the outstanding privilege to spend my working hours in such an environment, and I fear that fewer and fewer people (including our kids) will have such an opportunity in the future. Please resist the anti-tenure propaganda, and talk to others about it.
Ben has a new speech therapist who provides services at his preschool. Today we got the first of her weekly therapy reports. I have no intention of inflicting them on you every week, but I figured this first one might give you a sense of what she does. He gets pull-out/push-in speech for thirty minutes three times a week.
1a. Benjamin will auditorily discriminate the target sound from an error sound 8 out of 10 trials.
1b. Benjamin will produce target phonemes in isolation with prompts with 80% accuracy.
1c. Benjamin will produce target phonemes in imitation of clinician in all positions of words with 75% accuracy.
2a. Benjamin will be taught through models and imitate self-advocacy strategies 4 out of 5 trials.
2b. Benjamin will use self-advocacy strategies to strengthen hearing accuracy in noisy environments 3 times in a 30 minute period with cues as necessary.
2c. Benjamin will use self-advocacy strategies to strengthen attention to questions, directions, and conversation in noisy environments 3 times in a 30 minute period with moderate cues.
9/28/10 @10:30: Today we pushed into shelf work. He was able to use such strategies as stopping what he was doing and listening to the teachers' directions. He benefited from me saying "Stop, look and listen." He's starting to become more comfortable with his classmates. Ben was interacting, asking questions while a few of us played store.
9/29/10 @8:30: Today I pushed into yoga. Ben was able to independently transition in between activities. He had no difficulty attending during circle while there was background noise (ex. teachers leaving the classroom, classmates talking).
10/01/10 @10:30: Today I took Ben out of the classroom to work on our /f/ sound. We had fun finding /f/ pictures and objects in my magic bag. He's doing a nice job at both imitating me with the /f/ sound in isolation and at the word level. He loved looking at the headphones that I brought in.