Wednesday, November 23, 2011

An un-diagnostic diagnosis

So after I last posted about kiddo maybe/possibly/who knows? having ADHD, I heard from my cousin down South (who very nicely gave the OK on being mentioned here). Her son, a little older than my son, does have ADHD and has been in occupational therapy for a few years now. And some of the things she described seeing sounded extremely familiar.

And then we had our first "parent-teacher conference" at the new school. And they -- nicely, supportively -- said kiddo was behind where he should be, especially with fine motor skills and with listening/paying attention. I asked about ADHD, figuring they wouldn't bring it up unless I did first. Turns out the director's son has ADHD. "A lot of the things my son did," she said, "I see in your son."

She suggested avoiding red dye and severely limiting soda. Which raised two questions: Were we even giving him any red dye-ish foods now? And who the hell gives a 4-year-old kid soda? We don't even give him that much juice -- he uses a water bottle at school. Thankfully kiddo's teacher noted that he seems to eat a lot of healthy foods as it is. Which he does -- lots of fruit, whole wheat everything, cheese sticks, sunflower seed butter, carrots and hummus.

Conversations like this are what make me think all other parents are raising their kids on Dr. Pepper and Pop-Tarts.

Anyway they said they'd work with an OT if we needed one to come to the school for sessions. And they said whatever disciplinary method we use at home, they'd use as well for consistency. So that was nice. Certainly more than the other school offered. Of course, the other school also didn't bother to flag us about his handwriting, possibly because everyone was quitting for better jobs at that point.

We took him to the pediatrician to get a referral for evaluation. And she agreed, after watching him for a few minutes, that he was definitely showing signs of hyperactivity. Mostly because he was bouncing off the walls of the examining room like he was the ball in a pinball game. She said ADHD frequently shows up along with something else, like autism, but she didn't see any sign of that, since he was peppering her with a million questions about the decorations on the walls and came over twice to give her a hug. She also said most 4-year-olds wouldn't think to ask so many questions about something, and that he's a pretty smart kid.

I actually think that's the frustrating thing: That he can be so fantastic and so completely exasperating at the same time, literally at the same second. That he really likes to go, say, food shopping with me, but while food shopping, will demand to hold the bananas -- wait, just one banana -- no, two bananas -- no, not those two bananas -- no, wait, the cranberries -- no, the mini bagels -- no, the bananas! And then will pretend the banana is a phone and walk down the aisle chatting into it. (OK, I admit this was pretty funny. People were walking by us and giggling.)

Per UMDNJ and a bunch of other places, here are the symptoms of ADHD:

  • Get distracted easily and forget things often
  • Switch too quickly from one activity to the next
  • Have trouble with directions
  • Daydream too much
  • Have trouble finishing tasks like homework or chores
  • Lose toys, books, and school supplies often
  • Fidget and squirm a lot
  • Talk nonstop and interrupt people
  • Run around a lot
  • Touch and play with everything they see
  • Be very impatient
  • Blurt out inappropriate comments
  • Have trouble controlling their emotions
The red flag is if you see at least six of these. I count between seven and eight, depending on the day.

So we have a call out to the child development center at the hospital, but of course not expecting to hear back until after Thanksgiving. My therapist says some of the tests they would use, he just isn't old enough for. So we could go through all this and still not get a clear diagnosis until after he's 5. I'm thinking the best course of action is to proceed as though he does have it, and keep things very structured for him, and see what we can do about the handwriting. At least until we hear something different.

Last year it was his eyes -- literally, the surgery was a year ago -- this year, it's his mental development. Can't wait to see what I need to freak out about next year.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Stroller derby!

Some time ago we decided kiddo needed his own baby doll (as chronicled here) and got him one. More precisely, my parents got him one. They were very careful to meet my specifications -- no creepy blinking eyes, no fake-wetting, must gurgle and make baby-like noises. They gave kiddo the doll ... and he promptly rejected it in favor of kiddette's doll, which he liked better.

Honestly. They're both baby dolls. They're both cute. One is in purple and battery-operated, so it waves its arms around, and the other is in pink and doesn't. They both talk (though purple baby mostly gurgles happily and pink baby cycles through gurgling to crying to snoring). They both have little hats. I'm not seeing what makes one more special than the other.

This seemed like it could be a bit of a baby war, except kiddette decided she liked kiddo's baby, so kiddo could claim her baby. And all was well in fake-babyland, except when kiddette forgets she likes pink baby better and grabs purple baby, and then kiddo flips out over the babynapping.

They're actually pretty good fake parents. Kiddo likes to feed purple baby its bottle because if you hold the bottle to its mouth it makes little slurping noises. Kiddette likes to squeeze pink baby's belly so it makes all the sounds, and then when it starts crying, she cuddles it and says "Okay, baby." Which is exactly how I used to comfort her, so it's entirely cute. Then they both sit on the couch with their babies and watch TV, which probably loses them a few fake-parent points, but on the other hand, I'm letting them watch TV in the first place, so I guess I get a demerit. Plus an extra demerit for corrupting little plastic minds as well as little real ones.

Then there are the doll-size strollers. My MIL gave one to kiddette to go with purple baby, but then kiddo wanted purple baby. I ran out and got another stroller for pink baby, and now they each have one. Unfortunately I forgot what happens when these kids are anywhere near something with wheels. So every day they put their babies in their strollers and race around the house. Apparently it's a multi-lap race. Also, collisions are not only allowed but welcomed. Because there is, after all, very little difference between a stroller and a bumper car.

How excellent for them that we had hardwood floors installed on the main floor. Now they can go even faster!

So adult conversations in our house go something like this:

"So at work today I" WHOOSH ZOOM HA HAHAHA



"Mommy can you fix my stroller?"

"My baby!"

"No my baby! Mommmeeeeeee she took my baby!"


And then we propose to table all adult conversations until kiddie bedtime.

I can't be sure, but I do strongly suspect that other children do not play with their dolls the way these two do. Truly I don't know how the fake babies are going to live to fake adulthood.

But hey, I guess this counts as exercise. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Son of Halloween Part II: The Sequel

So we lost power last Saturday. We could kind of see it coming, what with all the thick, heavy snow and the wind, and the way both were making the trees around our house lean crazily forward. We shrugged it off and continued unpacking the china, which we were getting to roughly a year after moving into the house, which actually is pretty good for us. Then the lights went off and we shrugged again, figuring they'd come back on soon.
And then, of course, day turned to night and still no power. We dined on salmon and cannellini bean salad, and chips and salsa. We bundled everyone up and went to bed.

I dreamed we got our power back overnight and we were having a lovely warm breakfast. Then of course I woke up and my alarm clock screen was still blank. No power. Argh! Oh, and it was going to be 20 degrees that night. 

Every hotel we could find within a 30-mile radius was booked by people quicker on the uptake than we were. So we gave up and drove to Grandma and Grandpa's house.

What I was most unthrilled about, aside from inevitably losing everything in the fridge and trying to get work done via e-mail while the kids ran laps around Grandpa, was losing Halloween. Because I like Halloween. I like dressing up. I like dressing the kids up. I like going trick or treating and admiring the costumes of trick or treaters at my door. I like watching the Peanuts special. I like pilfering the kids' candy when they're not looking. I am a dork and I don't care.

But since our town was one of those especially hard hit by the storm -- the spooky thing once we finally made our escape was driving south through darkened neighborhoods, black street lights and trees lying across downed power lines -- Halloween was canceled. Who knew you could cancel such a thing? Next Santa will postpone Christmas on account of a monsoon.

Weep not for kiddo and kiddette, because we brought their costumes to Grandma and Grandpa's house. They had a lovely time charming the neighbors. Pirate kiddo refused to ring a single doorbell because of all the "scary stuff" decorating the houses, so I had to do it instead. Meanwhile fairy princess kiddette told off every single dog she met at every single house, even when they were cheerily thumping their tails at her. "No! No woofy!" she said sternly. My mother took a picture of one dog wearing a doggie witch's hat. Kiddette stared down the dog, clutching the lollipop she was sucking on. "No!" she growled. "MY lollipop!" The dog just looked back at her, clearly thinking, "I don't even want your stupid lollipop. Now get this hat off me!"

Also, she stomped a bug. I mention this because 1. I'm pretty sure most 2-year-olds don't concern themselves with the existence of bugs, and 2. she was dressed in a pink tutu and fairy wings, and the cutesy girlyness of it all was kind of a hilarious contrast. The poor beetle was trundling across a driveway, and she looked at it and stomped. Lifted her foot, checked to see if it was dead yet. Stomped again. Oh boy was it dead. She was quite pleased with herself.

At any rate they both got a good haul of candy and enjoyed the rest of their stay, which lasted until ... Thursday. Right. We didn't get power back until Thursday. Now the extremely cold folks in Connecticut definitely had it worse than we did, and we did have a warm place to stay while we waited things out (not to mention all the food -- thanks, Mom and Dad), but living out of a suitcase for five days is only fun when there's an actual vacation involved. Preferably with some sort of amusement park rides.

I'm not sure what New Jersey is being punished for, but after Hurricane Irene and Snowmageddon 2011, I think we've done our time. And "Jersey Shore" is not our fault because they're mostly from New York anyway.

Here is where kiddo and kiddette made out like little costumed bandits. Halloween -- or trick or treating, anyway -- was rescheduled for Saturday in our town. Do-over! Let's pretend the past week never happened!

So we went around again. This time kiddo happened upon a group of other kids going around with their moms, and decided that he too would be part of this group, even though we'd never met them before. He ran ahead with them, with DH struggling to keep up, and kiddette and I ended up about five houses behind. What can I say? He's a joiner. We fear his high school years, when his friends peer-pressure him into every stupid thing under the sun.

He also got one of the moms to give him an extra glowstick bracelet. I'm almost impressed by the sheer nerviness of his mooching. I've seen random people give him all sorts of things. Snack food. Toys. Do they feel sorry for him or is he just that charming?

Kiddette and I hit a few more houses until the sugar crash caught up with her and she had a big meltdown, mostly because I wouldn't let her eat all the candy. Then we went home. Kiddo and DH joined us shortly after. Then kiddo insisted on helping me hand out candy at the door. "Thanks, little man!" one teenager told him. Highly cute.  

So Halloween was saved not once but twice. And the kids have an unbelievable mountain of candy to show for it. Not a bad way to end up really.

Except for the part where I keep eating the candy.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Scarier than Halloween

is a massive snowstorm that knocks out the power to, more or less, your entire town. And also the town next to it. And a few towns around that town. And pretty much the entire northern half of your state. Leaving you without 1. heat 2. a working refrigerator 3. daycare. And a 20-degree night is coming.

And ... Boo!

OK, so obviously we have found a warm place with actual working electricity from which I can type this. (Or else I am powering the computer with MY MIND. Mwa ha ha OK look, it's Halloween, all right? I need to find my fun somewhere.) But this isn't a long-term solution. There's that whole job thing, for instance. Also the need to clean out the food currently rotting in the fridge. Including the applesauce that I had literally just made two hours before the power went out. Hey thanks, storm.

So we're in a bit of a waiting game. And I guess it's a smallish good thing that we hadn't carved the pumpkin yet, since the pumpkin would have then been buried under snow and no one would've seen it anyway.

We'll just ... um ... delay Halloween.  Until after we have heat. And after we clean out the fridge. And after our supermarket opens long enough to have actual food in it. And after the snow melts.

And by that time, of course, it will be Christmas shopping season.