Friday, June 29, 2012

Slowing Down

Most people who know me probably wouldn't list "patient" as one of my personality traits. I hate to go slow - it can be downright physically uncomfortable for me. I don't walk slow or drive slow. I'm a busy person and sometimes feel a lot of pressure to get it all done, so I go fast.

I believe that Ian, unfortunately, has inherited my impatience. He's impatient, but he's not fast. He's slow, and he can't help it. He hasn't had his wheelchair a full year yet, and though he's learned a lot about steering and maneuvering in the past 10 months, he can't propel his wheelchair fast with his scrawny, little arms. He needs to build strength and endurance, something that can only be achieved with practice and - I'm afraid - patience. When we are out in public with the wheelchair I strive to overcome my need to go quickly and let Ian wheel himself. From the hallways of the doctor's office to the aisles of the mall, Ian slowly wheels himself along while I walk a bit ahead, pointing out obstacles and offering encouragement to keep him on task. When he seems worn out and I ask him if he wants me to push him, he almost always answers "nah" and keeps going, wanting to do it by himself.

While going with him at his snail's pace, I notice other people, impatient and fast-moving, around us. So far no one has ever been rude to Ian in public (probably because he's so cute!), but I worry sometimes about how he will manage in this fast-paced world that continues to pick up speed by the day. All I can do is help him adapt to the world as much as possible. It's all any parent can do for their child, special needs or not.

Ian teaches me to put the brakes on life sometimes. Not everything has to be done quickly. Not every task has to be rushed though - and more importantly - not every task has to be done right away. Ian teaches me patience, and it can sometimes be a painful lesson, but one I need nevertheless.

On that note, I'm taking next week off because we are going on a family vacation! Relaxation, here we come!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Summer Fun Begins!

It's official: summer has begun, and with it come many fun things to do that keep our family busy during the day, as well as some nights. This is a recap of the past few weeks, which while very busy, were also very fun.

Ian turned 4, and the celebration seemed to stretch on for days. He saw one side of our family for lunch and outdoor fun on the Saturday before his birthday, then saw the other side on Sunday, and had a celebration day on his actual birthday with just his nuclear family. It was a gorgeous day, and we took him to a completely handicap accessible playground called Possibility Playground. We had never been there before, mainly because it is 45 minutes from our house, but we thought what better day to try it out than Ian's birthday. It was fantastic: huge, tons to do, and most importantly, completely ramped. Ian was able to go up to the top of the playground and look down from the slide like any other child. He really liked it, and had a flock of admirers around him and his wheelchair most of the time. It will definitely be worth the drive for more trips in the future.

Ian on the top of Possibility Playground
The next week, we headed upstate three and a half hours to a rented cottage with some family friends. We had a good time hiking, going to the beach, having a bonfire, and sharing many meals together. Ian loved going through the woods in his wheelchair (he needed help pushing over the uneven terrain) and throwing rocks into the water at the beach. I wish we could have stayed longer and done more fun things, but it was a nice, relaxing trip with family and friends.

Ian and his sister, dipping their feet in at the beach

The day after we returned from our trip upstate, Ian went to his first day of summer school. With new teachers and classmates to meet, I thought he might be a little overwhelmed at the end of the day. I should have known better; Ian was energetic and excited. He enthusiastically answered "Yeah!" when I asked him if he'd had a good day, and said the same when I asked him if he wanted to go back the next day. He's done with his first week now, and continues to be happy and ready to go back. I'm glad he'll be kept in the swing of the school schedule over the summer, especially since we'll be adding some full school days to his week once fall begins. I'm not looking forward to weening him off his naps this summer!

Our busy week ended with swimming lessons for both kids. This is Ian's third year in Parent/Child lessons, but it was Lydia's first time in a big pool. Both kids did great; sitting on the side and "jumping" in to me, and going down the little slide into the pool. Everyone was ready for bed at the end of the night!

A couple fun summer weeks down, many more to go! We have more fun plans ahead of us; stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Looking 4-ward

This week marks the end of Ian's first year in school. He will also be turning 4 in a few days, which he is mildly enthusiastic about. The past year has been full of changes and new experiences for Ian (and me!) - and I'm generally not much of a future-looking person - but here's what I'm looking forward to in the next year for Ian:

  • Summer outings - This will be Ian's first full summer with his wheelchair, and since his sister is no longer a newborn, I am looking forward to getting them both out more to do fun things and have new experiences. Ian will have a busy summer of therapy appointments and summer school, but we'll work around his schedule to get some fun outings in there as well. I'm especially looking forward to taking him to the zoo and letting him lead the way on his own in his chair.

  • 4K - In fall, Ian will begin half-day 4K at the school where he attends Early Childhood now. This will be a mainstream classroom with at least 15 children besides him (his current class is seven children). Ian often chooses to play alone instead of with his peers, so I'd like to see him blossom more in that department when he is in 4K next year.

  • Toilet "training" - Though we are currently still battling for approval of Ian's toilet seat, I am optimistic we will get it sometime this year and start the process of using it. We've gotten him to the point where he is dry between catheterizations, so once we can begin a bowel schedule on the toilet he will no longer need to wear diapers - yay!

  • More words, less whining - this might just be wishful thinking on my part, but I'm really hoping the next year will bring a giant breakthrough for Ian in the speech department. He's made so much great progress - expanding his vocabulary from three words to almost 20 in the past year - but still relies too much on signs and my least favorite form of communication: whining. I know he's frustrated that he can't verbally express all that he wants to, so here's hoping that he can channel that frustration into some real progress over the next year.

  • Some (or any!) weight gain - We're finally starting to see progress on this one, I think. It used to be a miracle if we got a few bites of food in his mouth during all three meals in one day. Now he consistently eats at all three meals, and most times cleans his plate. He gags and throws up less, so more food is staying in him, which will hopefully transfer to a little weight gain this year at his check up.

  • Physical gains - The addition of his wheelchair last year has really helped Ian gain a lot more upper body strength. He's no Hulk or anything, but he can wheel himself where he wants to go, no problem. He'll have to continue working hard to gain the strength and stamina to be able to wheel himself around for longer periods (he will be doing some full days at school next year), as well as learn to make transfers - to his bed or to the toilet - on his own. If he falls, he needs to be able to get himself up and back into his chair with only his arms. Though he's no Hulk now, he's going to need to become one on top to make up for what's lacking on the bottom.

Even though he's growing up so fast, I'm ready to say goodbye to the 3 year-old Ian and welcome the 4 year-old Ian in a few days. I'm so proud of the progress he's made while he's been 3, and I'm looking forward to all the wonderful things he will do and learn while he is 4!

Happy Birthday, Ian!

Ian at the lakefront in Milwaukee