Welcome to Our House - The Analogy ©

Having a baby is special. For some, it’s a lifelong dream, for others, a wonderful surprise. Either way, many of us have thought about taking this journey and whether it’s planned or a pleasant surprise, we all have preconceived ideas about what our child will look and be like. But what if it isn’t what we planned or expected? This is a short story I have written for parents who have or are expecting an exceptionally special child.

Welcome to our House – An analogy

After many months of dreaming, you finally decide it’s time. You are going to build that perfect house of your dreams. You have saved and saved, and now it’s time to put your plan into action. You find a wonderful, perfect piece of land in the city. It’s exactly what you are looking for – because it’s the plan that everyone talks about. You envision the all brick house sitting on luscious green grass, surrounded by a white picket fence. Inside is a marble foyer leading into a family room with beautiful oak hardwood floors. Granite lines the kitchen counter tops and there is an island sink in the middle. Upstairs has four perfect bedrooms and the master bedroom has an ensuite bathroom and an enormous walk-in closet, of course. It’s truly a dream come true, and it’s only a matter of time. You purchase the land and think to yourself, in nine short months, you will have it all.

But suddenly your agent calls to tell you, the land is not properly zoned, and the city has not approved it for building your perfect home. They have instead, given you land in the country, where an old country home sits. You are absolutely devastated, your dreams vanishing right before your eyes. You know you can’t back out now, you need a place to live, and despite it not being what you wanted, you know that somehow you will manage and that you can continue on.

You tell everyone what has happened, and everyone is disappointed, some even offering their condolences. You know that everyone else has a nice city home, and that was what you had planned, but you have to come to terms with the fact that you must learn to live in the country.

You go to see the property every month until closing and something funny happens. You start to fall in love with the place. The air is fresh, it’s peaceful and serene. There’s a pond on the land, and the house, though not a new all brick home, is quaint, and has lots of hidden potential. You soon realize it’s not a awful place, it’s just a different place. It’s slower paced than the city, less noisy and flamboyant, but it’s beautiful none the less. And in the process, you soon realize you may even get to meet some new and wonderful neighbours.

Its closing day and you suddenly find yourself full of anticipation, but you are still a little worried. After all, it isn’t what you had originally hoped for, and the house may need some repairs. But you are determined to accept it, and tackle everything one step at a time. You open the front door, and suddenly you are thrilled with what you see. The house is lovely, and has lots of character. The rooms are smaller but it’s decorated with beautiful attention and detail. The kitchen has marble instead of granite, and the bathroom has a soaker tub instead of a Jacuzzi. There isn’t a walk-in closet in sight, but the rooms all come with an indescribable view. Somehow, you just know that it was always meant to be and that this is now home.

This is my analogy of what it will be like for people who discover that they will be caring for a baby with Down syndrome. For us, it is not a terrible place to be, it is a journey full of surprises, milestones and discovery like any other child. And as the story suggests, sometimes it’s only a matter of ‘point of view’, and surprisingly, once you have been there, you don’t want to be anywhere else. The journey, like all others doesn’t come without some bumps in the road, but once you find your way, it’s all about the place you discovered, in most cases - quite by random chance
Author: Sandi Graham-McWade, Copyright

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Monday, December 20, 2010

My Journal - Week 70 (20Dec10)

What to do about YELLING....??!!

Many moms have asked this question when their little one gets to the age of testing out their voices and vocal cords in not such a pleasant way.  For kids who have delays with communication, it's obvious that other methods of communication will take place such as grunting or yelling when words are not as easy.  Recently I have noticed that Hunter is trying his best to communicate what he wants and most times he's very effective in doing so.  Hunter isn't really a pointer, but I think that is because most of the things he wants are within his reach.  He has been saying Momma and Dadda for quite a long time now and appropriately too.  Umma used to be his term for Grandma, which has recently changed to Nana-mama.  Not sure how that happened, but it works.  Hunter has also said a collection of what I call "One time words" which is to say that he has said a word with perfect pronunciation such as "Milk", and "Again" and "Grandpa" to name a few, but for some reason he has never repeated these crystal clear words ever again!  It's like he has come to the conclusion, 'Perfect.  Now I have said it, I don't need to say it again!'.

One thing is for sure though, when Hunter wants to do something and he can't, or is trying to get something and it isn't working, he becomes obviously frustrated.  He will slap his hands down onto his lap in frustration and make the most sour face you have ever seen.  While it's amusing, it's also distressing because you know he's obviously frustrated.  Which brings me to the yelling.  Only recently has he begun to yell, and what was once cute and not too distracting has become quite loud, boisterous and annoying.  Hunter knows that his yelling provokes a response out of anyone within ear shot, so like the little master that he is, he's figured out that yelling equals response.  And at this stage, any response is better then no response at all.  Being that I am a first time mom of a baby (I have three step kids who were not babies when I entered their lives) I have had to make my own mistakes in order to learn.  My first mistake with this yelling thing was an automatic response to yell back... "STOP THAT!"  Oh how that was not the right thing to do.  At first Hunter was startled and didn't continue.  But slowly after repeating this little "game" of yelling and getting Mommy or Daddy to respond by in turn yelling back to stop, he learned quickly that it worked to get our attention.  Soon after the strategy changed to attempting to yell back at him (as if this would make logical sense...) in the same exact annoying pitch that Hunter used.  Imagine if you will, child screaming at the top of his lungs... then Daddy or Mommy yelling back in the exact same pitch and silly loudness.  Firstly, I just want to say for the record, the first time it was done, Hunter was once again startled and stopped immediately... unsure of what exactly was going on.  Secondly if you can imagine what this looked and sounded like, you are most likely right.  Stupid.  So, what exactly were we teaching Hunter?  A) Yelling must be okay, since Mommy and Daddy both are doing it right back to me, and B) Yelling gets the response I wanted... attention.

Great.  So after all of that wonderful trial and error lesson learning what exactly did I get?  A lesson in what not to do.  So what exactly do you do with a yelling 16 month old?  Something that seems to work, which is not as counter productive as the other ill fated ideas and far as saneness goes is much easier on the poor ears.  Do something that makes sense.  COVER YOUR EARS!  Now, if this sounds silly - while it may look exactly that way, it really isn't.  After all else had failed, such as trying to ignore the yelling.... (ya right!) or simply telling Hunter not to do it... I realized that just as non-verbal (not using words) so to speak as he was being, I would be too.  The first time I put my hands over my ears, Hunter immediately stopped yelling.  Whether it was to figure out what the heck Mommy was doing, or because he was noticing that my reaction was completely different than the usual is hard to say.  The next few times I repeated the action of covering my ears and he gave up yelling only to try and pull my hands from my ears.  This lasted for a bit until he figured that once my ears where uncovered he could continue to yell.  Immediately following that episode I deployed my next confusing tactic.  Whispering.  What did I say??  Yes, Whispering.  I whispered that Mommy's ears hurt or Mommy doesn't like yelling, along with a pained look on my face.  As if this wasn't a confusing change of events!  Now he had to be quiet (on his own accord) just to hear what Mommy was saying!  So far, these two tactics deployed together promote a sudden quiet that forces him to be quiet to hear exactly what Mommy is saying to him AND when he quiets Mommy says thank you and gives him positive attention.  So far my only hope is that he doesn't equate the attention as being the reward for the whole entire process of yelling and then being quiet so much as just being quiet.  So far it's working.  The hard thing about doing this is refraining from immediately yelling for him to stop and also making sure everyone else in the household does the same.  It's very hard when you have an extended family dynamic all living under the same roof (albeit a large roof) to ensure all the modes of teaching are the same so as not to confuse the child.  It's never perfect but at least when things don't go right I can't always blame Hunter so much as I can blame the craziness of multiple and different family dealings toward one child.

Anyway, it's just amusing to me that (as I have mentioned so often before) Hunter is not the only one learning here.  Hunter is our teacher in this great thing we call life and all it's lessons that come with it.  Psychology lessons aren't just for the professionals and their patients you know, and I am realizing most of the lessons they share probably didn't come from a text book - they came from dealing with their own families!

If you have any Yelling/Calming techniques I would love to hear about them!  I am sure at some point our wizard will figure me out and be at it again sooner or later.  Perhaps changing up the routine (just like changing shampoos every so often - which is supposed to be good for your hair...) will be just as beneficial in terms of learning!

1 comment:

  1. Play classical music on low close by. Kids will stop making noise to hear it and often they carry on doing so. Turn of the TV so that it is not creating background sound that the little one will try to outperform. Sometimes just lowering the noise level all around and adding a softer alternative helps.
    And do you reward the quiet moments?? If you get any time at all I'd love if you'd share my Unusual Christmas Story. Buddy was a super helper to me.


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