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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

It's Your Job to Speak Up

"Mama, I don't like the doctor appointment."

My daughter said that sullenly as we walked out of the door of the pediatrician's office this afternoon.

They didn't get any shots, and they usually love the doctor (weirdos), but this time it took an emotional toll.

After the weighing and the eyes and ears, the doctor came in. And she checked them physically and said everything was fine with a big old beam on her face.

But it's not fine. I know it's not fine. And if the ped's office had been paying attention to me throughout the last year, they would have known it's not fine either.

"What about their speech?" I asked. (I wrote a couple of years ago about how my daughters' were slower in speech than some other kids, and I've done speech update posts in the form of cutesy "aww, little kids' words" posts about every six months since then. But they weren't just cutesy. They were also for me so I could keep a record of how they were or were not progressing without intervention.)

"Yes, well, they do seem to slur some of their words and sounds together," she replied.

To which I nodded.

"They also can't get her and she right," I said. "They use she for everything." (This is a change. Last year they used her for everything, and at our correcting, they replaced her with she. But it's all or nothing, it seems.)

The doctor was able to get them to use she in a sentence incorrectly, and looked at me, puzzled.

"That's not normally a problem we see," she said.

"But what does it mean?" I asked.

She didn't know.

And she still would have let us walk out the door, but I pushed and so she put in a referral for speech evaluation. But had I not said anything, she wouldn't have. Remember to speak up. It's important.

But the hardest conversation was yet to come.

"What about their behavior?" I asked.

Of course, what I wanted to say was, "What about how they lose their shit all the time?" but we must use tact in these situations. They're delicate at best. And at five, my kids know exactly what's going on.

I've long come to terms with the fact that I have what kind internet mommies call "spirited" children. (Yes, scare quotes).

And last year, I had to go pick them up from preschool no less than five times throughout the course of the year because they just completely lost their shit. They get tired of using their words, and if an adult doesn't see their point of view, instead of accepting that, they throw a tantrum that would put any two year old to shame.

And it's not like that ever, ever,  works, so I don't even know what the hell.

Excuses are: they're very competitive, they're perfectionists, they're sensitive, and up until a few days ago, that they were two or three or four.

But now they're five. And that shit ain't gonna fly in kindergarten.

The doctor had a rather stern talk with them. Complete with telling them if they couldn't hold it together, they'd get kicked out of school and have to go to school with all the bad and mean kids. Which kind of made me go o.O

Anyway, by the end of it, one of my daughters was in tears and seeing her cry made me well up and it just sucked all around.

It's not on them to do better, of course.

It's on me. Having lived with them 24/7, I let myself get pulled into their nonsense, I try to reason with the beast that unleashes instead of just ignoring it.

I expect them to act like rational human beings and I treat them as such, even when they're literally puddles on the ground. And when they do get to that point, I get frustrated, because, seriously, what the hell, kids? What even is this nonsense?

And they sense it and clearly that doesn't help anyone or anything.

And obviously that's not the right way.

They start kindergarten in less than a week, now. And the speech people aren't going to call me for two weeks, probably, if they even call. (I'll have to hunt them down after that.) It's not that they can't talk, and interestingly, they can read very well. But I need them to feel as if language is their friend, moreso than crying.

Anyway, the doctor said if they can't get it together, she'll recommend occupational therapy, but to wait and see.

Wait and see.

They've been telling me that, you know, since my girls were two. And I'm between a rock and a hard place because I don't think there is anything atypical about the girls. I truly think they are right-down-the-line typical, just fiery, spunky, "spirited" if you will. But I need to do a better job. And to do that, maybe I need help.

And if I need help, well, haven't I waited long enough and seen enough?

I just don't know. But I know that I should have pushed for speech evaluation last year, and I didn't.

Kids are hard. Life is hard.

My kids are so much more complicated than I am.

I hope I can get it together myself, and do right by them.



  1. there are many things kindergarteners still mispronounce and mess up saying. particularly letter sounds. s, z, th, l, and r are still pretty common at age 5. at all of my kindergarten meetings for parents, this was hounded into us because it was part of the screening. they didnt want anyone to think their kid was failing before school even started. if there were huge red flags at screening, it would have been addressed.

  2. Time for a new pediatrician. I battled the "wait and see" approach for far too long--I pushed for referrals, for her to take my concerns more seriously, and even getting early intervention and the school involved (both of which agreed with me that there was something going on), I still couldn't get her to give me a referral for anything. She took the position that now that someone else was involved, it was off her hands and they needed to take care of things. But you know what? Schools are busy and their therapists are not available as much as a kid may need. And it can be hard to get a school to do proper evaluations--many of them want a medical diagnosis before they evaluate for things and even when they agree to evaluate, it can take a long time, time that a kid is not receiving help.

    I researched the heck out of the practices in my area to find one that had lots of experience in the various issues I wanted addressed with my kids. I have to drive forty miles one way now but I walked out of our very first appointment with referral sheets in hand. And it hasn't been very long since we started all of the various therapies for all three but we are already seeing a difference :) And it is an absolutely glorious feeling like I have people on my side, people who are working hard at helping my "spirited" kids and who want better for them. I particularly love the occupational therapist who works with my oldest--he has a sensory processing disorder and she is really focused in helping him learn how to deal with that and calm down (a huge portion of his "spirited" behavior comes from seeking sensory input) and she actually shows us techniques to help him as well.

    I think its a hard line to walk, wondering if its our parenting, feeling guilty that maybe we are doing something wrong, wondering why nothing we try works, feeling guilty for even wondering if maybe-just-maybe there is something not quite right with our children. And if you admit you are seeking evaluations, you have a group telling you are just a bad parent looking for excuses and a group encouraging you to get the help because if your kids need the extra help, they should get it. And as much as you want to listen to the encouraging group, the "you suck" group gets in your ear and tries to take up residence ;-)

    But at this point, I don't care about the naysayers. My kids' diagnoses are not excuses. You won't find me saying "oh, well, he has ADHD so you can't really blame him" or "she suffers from anxiety because of the trauma of her surgery so you have to let her do whatever she wants." They all still get punishments if they misbehave, even when the misbehavior is a direct result from their diagnosis--they are learning, just as I am, how to deal with and cope with the fact that some things for them are harder and take more work.

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