Saturday, March 21, 2009

TGIF? Um, not really.

This morning Cyndi came to chitchat with me while the kids played circles around us. She's very calming and she's a good ear. I told her all about the sitter situation and summarized that we will survive it, it's only for a few more months. What she told me next totally shocked me, even though it probably shouldn't have. I told her how I thought it was important for someone else to watch Ronin and ultimately Audrey too, so I could be present for Nikko's therapies. She said that some parents don't even watch the therapies, they just leave.

"You mean they don't sit in on every session?" I asked.
"No. Sometimes the therapist comes and the parents look at it like babysitting."

I was absolutely floored. So much that I actually called Shelly while the kids were napping and asked her if this was true. Shelly paused for half a second and said, "Yeah. It's true. Some parents see it as a break. I have a young mother who's 19 and she uses it to take a smoke break or to run an errand. Other mothers just get bored watching the therapists play with their kid. I have another young mother with a kid with cerebal palsy and sometimes we're just brushing her and the mom gets bored. Again, some need the break."

"But I'm not looking for a break from Nikko. I'm there to watch and learn so I can help him get better."

"Melissa," Shelly replied, " You guys are more involved with Nikko. And I don't mind if the parents leave, it actually shows me they trust me enough to be with their kid. And as long as I see that the kid is improving, it's fine. But if the parents aren't doing anything with the kid and treating him bad, then I tell them it's time to step it up."

I told Shelly I wasn't trying to put myself on a pedestal as the model mother or anything, I was truly shocked because I thought it was an explicit understanding (and in the paperwork) that the parent be present during all therapy sessions. I figured that if I or Denis wasn't there, how would we see Nikko improve, or how would we learn techniques to use on him during the week? I guess it also depends on what developmental delay is going on with the child, since not all the kids at Clearbrook have autism. This doesn't mean that I'm going to become all lax and not be present for Nikko, or disappear during the sessions, or make it ok to step out and care for Ronin and Audrey thinking Gloria or Bo or Shelly won't mind. I would mind. And I don't think it's fair to Nikko. I am just surprised that not being present was ever an option. Shelly did remind me that the cases she cited were young mothers, and I was older and nurturing in a different way.

Denis had a haircut appointment today so after we dropped him off (in Clarendon Hills) I drove a short ways and found a great park behind a school called Prospect. There were two parks behind the school but I think I chose the one with more age-appropriate apparatus. It was REALLY challenging for me because I was alone with the 3 kids and I didn't have a bunting outfit for Audrey. I had to keep her in the car seat in the stroller and let the other two run rampant. Nikko discovered a duo slide where one was corrrugated with ridges while the other had speed bumps. I guess it was a sensory kid's heaven. Ronin was exploring his surroundings and even took off toward a fence and the parking lot, so I had to chase him down. He was playing with the wood chips and dirt as if it were water, so I had to use wipes on them when we got into the car. Audrey was just not happy in her car seat so I had to keep rocking the stroller. I worred about putting them back in the car, and I noticed some guy walking his dog across the street staring at us because Audrey was non-stop screaming while I packed the boys away. I gave her a bottle when I was all set and that calme her down. It was feeding time for her anyway. As the boys are getting older and more mobile, there is almost no way I can take them all to the park without any help. I can't sit by the stroller while Ronin goes off in one direction and Nikko in the other. In hindsight, if one of them went toward the street and the other went toward the lake then I would have really put us all in danger.

This evening we were supposed to go to the in-laws for dinner, but found out that they were in Israel. Denis' sister graciously invited us over for dinner with the rest of the Umali clan. When we were getting ready to leave, I walked around bellowing, "SOCK AND SHOES! SOCKS AND SHOES! IT'S TIME TO PUT ON OUR SOCKS AND SHOES!" It's something I always say to alert the boys that we are getting outta here. When I got to the kitchen, Nikko had just put his two shoes neatly on the floor in front of me. I was surprised and happy, and loudly praised him for doing such a big boy job. He didn't help me put ON the shoes, but the fact that he brought them out was awesome.

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