Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You....

I'm just so discouraged by the political dialogue in this country.

How sad is it that the President of the United States can't give a simple speech to our kids encouraging them to stay in school, do their best, and act obediently toward their parents and teachers without members of the opposing party going all apoplectic?

I just fail to see how this is cause for alarm. There's nothing remotely political about President Obama's speech, yet there are parents who are going to pull their children out of school on Tuesday so they won't have to hear the President's propaganda! Are you kidding me?

I heard one mother, from Colorado, I believe, who was quoted as saying that this government scares her. Really? Because I find watching young men and women die in a foreign country so that our (former) vice-president and his pals can get richer and our country can (in theory) have greater access to Middle Eastern oil, and having my civil rights trampled upon by the Patriot Act, and having my child's ability to gain access to the services he needs to get a good education stymied by the No Child Left Behind Act a hell of a lot scarier than our President telling kids to stay in school.

I really think our country is dying. And the reason is that too many people, some of them very smart people, have closed their minds. They've shut down their ability to reason and think for themselves and are unable to do anything other than espouse the party line. They are unwilling to even listen to any thoughts, beliefs, or arguments other than those they already believe in. Until we return to a place where both sides are willing to engage in constructive dialogue with one another and not just shout ugly words like Communist! or Fascist! at the other side, our country will cease to grow and thrive.

This commentator has it right. I couldn't agree more with what he has to say.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Adventures in Potty Training: Dyspraxic Child v. Typical Child

When I began the potty-training process with Brendan, when he was two-and-a-half, (the age, mind you, that had been recommended by all the books I'd read, our pediatrician, and my mother-in-law), I was confident that my smart little boy would be potty-trained in no time flat.

I believed that I could and would be consistent in our efforts. I had read a variety of methods and decided on the one I thought best for our lifestyle and his temperament. I was optimistic, to say the least.

For weeks, we struggled. I changed my methods. I tried everything my friends and family suggested. I gave up. I waited until he was three and tried again. This time, we had a bit more success, but still battled daily urinary accidents. And going poopy on the potty? Forget it!

When he was four and a looming August 10 start date for pre-K lay ahead in my future, I was panicking. Freaking out. Finally, after having tried everything to motivate him, educate him, help my son, I called our pediatrician. Her advice? Give up. Literally.

She said to give up trying to train him for one month. She said to put him in pull ups and just leave him alone for one month. To not even mention it. Against every thing that I believed to be true and sacred about parenting, I did exactly what she told me. worked.

About one month before school began, we put Big B back into regular underwear, told him he was to use the toilet for everything, and he did. He was able to start school with no accidents and he did great.

If only I had known then that he had dyspraxia, I could have saved both him and me many, many tears and hours of pain and anxiety over all of it. I could have saved his self-esteem and my own.

Now that he's been diagnosed, I know that late toilet training is a symptom or sign of dyspraxia. Back then? I just thought he was too stubborn or too easily distracted to focus on what his body was doing. Now, of course, I realize that the process of nerve endings and signals back and forth between brain and bladder and the various other body parts involved is so complicated that the dyspraxic child isn't physically mature enough at two and some not until they are much older, to get it right.

Now I know though. Still, when I began potty training Little B three weeks ago, I began cautiously and fearfully. I was fearful that I was entering another Showdown to the Death. That's what training Big B felt like to me. Between the potty training that was going wrong and the lack of sleep, I really thought one or both of us might die before we were done. And as I began training Little B, I really thought that it had the potential to be just as bad. To me, it felt like Potty Training PTSD. Just thinking of going through that again made me want to crawl inside myself.

I needn't have worried, though. By virtue of the fact that he doesn't have Developmental Dyspraxia, Little B has flourished in his efforts to be a Big Boy.

We spent a couple of days with him in pull-ups, being introduced to the toilet. I would give him juice and then every 10 min. thereafter put him on the toilet with the potty seat attached. After those first two days, he went into regular Thomas underwear, hand-me-downs from his big bro. After a couple of days that consisted of lots of him sitting on the toilet while I ran water and read books to him as we waited for him to pee only to have him have an accident as soon as we left the bathroom, we moved on to successful peeing in the potty with lots of M&Ms and stickers for rewards.

I took Little B to the store where I let him pick out his own underwear (he chose Sesame Street and Thomas) and the rest is history. We're three weeks in and he has only had two accidents the last week. He still hasn't pooped on the toilet, but I'm no longer worried.

I can't tell you what this kind of success has done to restore my confidence as a mom. I'm trying to focus on that and not beat myself up about not knowing Brendan was different. He was my first and I didn't know. And neither did our pediatrician. I talked to them a lot about it and they just kept telling me kids train when they want to. I can wish all day that we'd had an earlier diagnosis, but it doesn't change anything.

All I can say is that my heart is with every parent who is trying to potty train a dyspraxic child. And with that, I would say that if that describes you, be patient. It will come to them. Try, too, to remember that it is not a reflection on you or your parenting abilities if your dyspraxic child toilet trains late. Just keep your patience. I didn't have the luxury of knowing what our problem was and I wasted many tears fighting a battle I could have avoided.