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Friday, December 31, 2010

Another Year Ending

I glanced at Janey from another room today, and saw suddenly how big she is getting. She's turning into a school age girl, not a preschooler or toddler or baby. It's amazing and scary.

I'm trying to sum up this year with her, but it's hard. It was a year of ups and downs, as they all are, more extreme this year than in some cases. There was what I will always think of as "the terrible time" when she cried day and night for about a week, screamed like she was being tortured, more accurately. There was the giving in and putting her on medication, there was the adjustment period, and there was September, an incredible month of progress for her, the amazing start to school, the happiness and socialness and friendmaking. There was the regressions since then, there was this recent week which was tough. Overall, the big progress she has made this year is social. She sometimes greets people now, she is happy to see people she knews, she is more affectionate overall. Her talking is better in some ways, although still very limited. I think her vocabulary grew a good amount, but much of it is still buried and only comes out at the perfect prompting. She is showing very slow progress toward toilet training, and I am able to believe that will happen some day. Her emotions are a little more under control, but she still can and does have days where everything sets her off. I think Tony and I are feeling more positive in general about our life with her, but also more resigned. It was another year without a miracle breakthrough, not that I reasonably expected one, but I'm gullible enough to sometimes half believe the hype and think they sometimes happen. We know this is for the long haul. The day by day triumphs don't change the fact that for whatever reason, fate has dealt her a tough hand, and us too. I'm not going to say what I'm supposed to say, that we have realized she's a blessing and she has made every part of our life better. Of course she's a blessing---she's a beautiful, fascinating kid. But she has a disorder, a disease, if you will, that is going to keep her from living the life she would live otherwise, and it would be paternalistic and wrong to say I'm glad of that. Sometime, somewhere, something happened that robbed her of the potential she should have. It's not fair to her, much more than it's not fair to us. That's maybe not too uplifting for a New Year's Eve post. Let me try again. The best we can do for her is to accept her, accept what she is right now, use it as a starting point and do what we can to give her the best life we can with the limitations imposed. Not to accept her as some kind of canvas to try to work cures on, or some kind of reflection of some point about mankind, but accept her as a child with limitations, and love her.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas week

I had a tough time with Christmas this year. I'm not sure why. I never really got in the spirit---I would have been just as glad if it had somehow just not happened. I did all right in the end---I got the boys presents they liked, I put up a nice tree, we all had good food and a good day, but I did the bare minimum. No presents outside the family really, no cards, nothing major. I think Christmas depresses me more each year as somehow it really hurts that Janey doesn't understand it. That's my problem, not hers---she's perfectly happy not understanding it. She doesn't ask for toys, or wait up for Santa, or count the days. She knows carols and songs, and that's Christmas for her. I guess that's what we are all supposed to want---a child without greediness---and I have that. But I dream a little of her asking for a special toy, or being excited Christmas morning. As it was, she was completely uninterested in the toys I carefully picked out. She didn't even want to look at them---they were too new. She found an old Barbie and carried it around all day. Today she looked at the box of toys a bit more, and it was interesting watching her. She looked at one at a time, very carefully turning it to all angles to look at, and touching every part of it. Not playing with them, but I guess getting used to them.

This week is tough, though, after a mostly very good fall. Not having school is very hard on Janey---she very much needs that routine. She has fallen into her "wake up crying" routine instead, which is so so so so so hard. Once she gets crying, it's next to impossible to calm her down. She cries out requests---"I want Kipper! I want Oreos! I want milk! I want snuggle on Mama's bed!" and I try to help her, but she doesn't really want any of those, she just wants to feel better, and I can't do that. We got a lot of snow a few days ago, and we are essentially stuck in the house---the boys don't want to go anyplace, and I can't take Janey out in public on my own anymore much---it's just too scary, with her bolting ways and her sudden tantrums.

Janey's 3 year re-eval IEP meeting was wonderful. What a great bunch of people work with her. I was in tears of happiness after the meeting. I truly feel they all care about Janey, and want the very best for her. She is making some progress---painfully slow, as Janey's progress always is, but some. I felt like the woman who does ABA with her now REALLY gets her---she said Janey's vocabulary is very good, but it's actually getting the words out that is the problem, and I am glad she understands that, and is going to work on that. If you can catch Janey in the right mood and just ask her to name objects, she's a whiz. She can't tell you what they do, or show you how to use them, or use their names in a sentence, but she can sure name them.

I think what I need to deal with soon is my own depression. I don't like to admit it to myself, but I don't think I face each day lately with much vim. I dread each day, really. I am becoming more housebound, partly due to lack of money, because most anything I can think of that gets me out costs money, and partly because I'm so damn exhausted from doing all I can for Janey and the boys that I just collapse in my free time, or play Scrabble on Facebook, or read. I am not sure what I can do about the depression. I feel like it's reasonable depression---it's not out of no-place, and no therapist is going to be able to fix things---to give me money or to help with Janey. On the contrary, they will cost money. I feel like I do okay day by day, but when I stop and think about things, I fall apart.

I will include a picture here of Janey by the tree.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

It's not a puzzle game

A thought flashed into my head the other morning. It was a very tough morning, as many have been lately. Janey woke up upset, and spent the first hour of the day crying. She would ask for something, then not really want it, ask for something else, scream, get hysterical, calm down enough to ask for a video, I'd put it on and it would somehow upset her....on and on and on and on and on. I was trying to do dishes. The dishes were in terrible shape, the laundry was piled up, and I was at my wit's ends. And something in my head said "You can't win this. There's isn't a solution". I don't mean that in a negative way. I mean I realized---there is no right way to do this. This isn't a puzzle game, where if you work at it, you will find the solution and be able to make it all work---Janey happy, the housework done, the money issues gone, the balance achieved. It's a rigged game. It will never all come right. I've been given a deck without some of the cards, or a slot machine with the odds against me. I've been feeling always like I somehow just wasn't playing right---that if I knew the right way to manage my time and money, the right things to do or say with Janey, it would all somehow finally come together. But it won't. And that was a strangely calming thought. I stopped the dishes, picked up Janey and held her. She still cried, still demanded, still wasn't happy, the dishes stayed undone, the bills stayed unpaid, but I was calm for a few minutes. I accepted that no amount of brainpower was going to solve this one.