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Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Time Anomaly

Lately, Freddy has gotten very into Star Trek, and we have been watching a lot of episodes of the various shows.  That made it particularly striking when one of my favorite blogs, On the Train With Sophie, mentioned a Star Trek Voyager episode in a blog entry---an entry that made me think and think.  Read it here, if you wish!  The entry is about how in many ways, Sophie stands still in time, while her siblings seem to be in a different time flow--moving on and growing up fast.

In many ways, Janey stands still in time too.  I thought of that this morning.  We can never count on a full night's sleep, and are happy when we get it.  She wakes up wet, and needs a change.  She runs around the house as if she is excited she can finally run.  She comes to us and asks, in a phrase that could easily be that of a two year old "Strawberry milk?"  We tell her "I love you!" and she echoes it back "I love you!" and we are thrilled.  Nothing she does would be unusual in a toddler.  Only her 9 year old body shows that she is no longer two.

We think in this society in terms of progress, moving forward, striving always for the next level.  At school, success is measured in progress, in a line moving up a graph.  When we talk about our kids to others, it's almost always progress we discuss---they are walking!  They started kindergarten!  They are in high school!  They have gotten into college!  It's how we see a life going---it's how we feel we are on the right track.  So how do we deal with a child that doesn't progress in the typical way?

Of course, as I wrote in my last entry, there is progress with Janey.  But in a way, it's lateral progress.  She is refining being at the stage she is in.  She is coming to feel at ease with the level she is at.  And if we let ourselves change our thinking, what is wrong with that?  What is wrong with being developmentally a toddler, and getting better and better and better at it?  She knows how to be at the stage she's in.  She knows how to delight us, as toddlers do, with her sweet talk.  She knows what videos she likes, what textures feel good to touch, what foods she likes and what she doesn't.  She knows what books she likes having read to her.  She knows how to ask us for the basics in her life.

What if we put aside our traditional views of time and development?  What if we accepted that Janey might not move forward?  Please note I am NOT saying that I am going to do this.  I am just entertaining the thought.  In reality, I am still in our current time flow.  I want Janey to progress, because, quite frankly, time also is moving along for Tony and me.  We are getting older.  We will some day come to an elderly stage, and some day, we will be gone.  That is why, I think at heart, parents want their children to progress.  We want to know that when we are no longer around to care for them, they will be able to care for themselves.  Beyond that, I know Janey would be happier in a lot of ways if she was able to progress.  I think she'd love to be able to read.  I think she'd enjoy being able to have a real conversation.  I think she would relish the ability to do more for herself.  But what if we accepted that none of that might happen?  What if we concentrated on enhancing the stage she is in right now?  What if Janey is in a time anomaly?  It happens in the Star Trek world all the time.  They run up against all kinds of time oddities.  I am not literally saying I think that is the case here, but like Star Trek showed us a optimistic view of the future, maybe we can learn from it to accept that time isn't the same for all of us.


Sophie's Trains said...

I am glad you enjoyed it :) I try to look at the big picture always. It keeps me sane. Having Sophie has taught me many lessons about myself and about life, invaluable lessons. About how we view people who are different than us, or the cognitively impaired. Maybe it's the aspie in me but I also think what if we're going about this all wrong, about time, progress... What if there's not just one way to live. Sophie seems happy anyway, it's us that have to change our priorities. Reading about Janey who is older also causes me to reflect a lot about what progress means, "future".

Freeyoke said...

It's more obvious when there's a living yard stick standing to my daughter- her younger brother. At age two he's already starting to use more complex sentences and not just echolalia. Any progress I see in my daughter gets diminished we I realize how slowly she's learning. I asked my son what he did in school and he said he played something which more than I've gotten out of my daughter. Christmas was somewhat of milestone that I'll remember because my daughter didn't want to participate in opening gifts and my son played with stuff meant for her. Last year she could sit for a family photo and this year nada. I hope this isn't pattern but I blame the Ipad for some of it. A lot of people recommended we get one because she rarely sleeps at the daycare so it's used to keep her busy there but it's become a crutch to occupy her the rest of time. She appears to interact less with people and talk less than before nut the speech therapist claims see she's hears improvement. Personally, I'd rather hear the truth than what people think I want to hear. I've always been a cynic and believe my daughter's life will be tougher than anything I can reasonably throw at her. My sister chided me for saying "Walk like a normal human being" to my daughter when she pulled up her legs and refused to walk. I'm pushing my daughter to do what I know she already do and speak when I know she can. It bothers me when people think I should just let her get comfortable with whatever pleases her. She may face lifetime of lowered expectations anyway but I'm going to keep her moving forward as much as I can. All of this is ironic coming from a guy who never did that well in school, held some dead end jobs, didn't prove to be a great soldier, got married late and has had one promotion in my nearly 50 years. I'm no Tiger Dad but I know once you start settling and get used to finishing last all the time no one will ever ask you more of you. My son also gets pushed because he'll have double duty of helping his sister and least avoiding some of my mistakes. That's a lot for a 2 year-old but that's the only life he's known so far.

Unknown said...

I like your post. I agree It goes down as accepting the enviable but still building for the bit of hope that giving up is not an option. Age is in her late twenties. She's every bit a child. Finding more joy in a card box then what was in the actual box. Preferring oobi over spongebob. Letting the world know when she has a bowel movement in the toilet like its the biggest accomplishment even though she's been doing it for years. I swear she looks in the mirror and sees a little girl not a young woman. We still strive to this day that she will progress and she does. She will amaze us at any given moment. I think your doing an amazing job as a mother to Janey. Hope your family has a happy new year.