Today is yet another snow day. I anticipated that Nate’s school would be delayed today but never thought it would be closed. As such, I think Nate’s losing the lone day remaining in his April break. I feel bad for the teachers. The kids have received a “break,” sort of — but the days were spent as families fretted about losing work and cleaning up after a superstorm and one of the biggest snowfalls in recent history. There wasn’t much fun and relaxation (not much was open and most of us were trapped in our homes) and the snow/storm days slowly ate away at the February and April breaks. Now, teachers will have classrooms filled with kids who haven’t had a proper break since December and that just cannot be good.
Today, Nate is bouncing off the walls. The snow stopped around 2PM but it’s thick, heavy snow. Nothing’s been shoveled and I just can’t muster the energy to get Nate (and myself) suited up to play in the snow. It makes me want to take a nap just thinking about it. So Nate’s bounced on the trampoline, bounced on the couch. We’ve watched a Daniel Tiger and a Curious George episode. We played with Pete. We ate two snacks and two meals. Nate played golf using a baseball and a bat. I did two loads of laundry, including a basket of Nate’s friends and favorite blankets. In short, we are going stir crazy. I cannot wait for Chad to get home. (Is he home yet? No? How about now?)
I can’t gather enough thought for a singular narrative today, so I figured I’d update folks on what Nate’s up to these days. He’s a pretty remarkable kid and is growing up at a rapid pace. He’s very curious (almost too curious) and has really taken ownership over things in the house. For instance, now that he’s grown (38″!), Nate is tall enough to turn on the light switches. He enjoys turning on the kitchen light, romper room light and fan, hall light, and bathroom light (which requires him to climb up on the toilet).
We’ve got some language but nothing consistent or truly spontanious. With prompting (which means someone asks or reminds him to say it), Nate can say hi, bye (or bye-bye), open (pronounced “opa”), apple, chip, cook (for “cookie”), Mama (which is often said as mamamamamama and really means “I don’t want you to do this!”), up (pronounced “up-up”), Dad, kitty, shoe, sock, and book. (Hi, bye, book, and kitty were all words he had around 12 months prior to the great fade.) Nate can also sign words (apple, eat, up, open, wait — which is usually a sass back at me for asking him to wait….) but almost exclusively when prompted. Despite a lack of language, Nate gets his point across quite effectively. He knows how to get an adult’s attention by taking their hand, pulling them to the item, and signing/saying “Up-up” so he can point to what he wants. Nate also does quite well making choices through his iPad, though he mainly does this at school. If there’s a snack he wants, Nate tugs at the refrigerator door until it opens, makes his choice, finds an adult (who is always hovering), and hands them the item. (It’s usually a cup of yogurt or the carton of soy milk.)
Every now and again, though, Nate surprises us. The other day, Nate and I went to the grocery store after school. Nate usually eats his way through the shopping experience. He already had pretzels and was now enjoying a soft frosted cookie. As we wheeled through the bakery section, Nate, as he always does, made sure I saw the mini cupcakes. He points his hand, which he twists in a circular fashion, and makes a bit of noise so that I know we passed something he wanted. I launched into my usual speech. (“Nathan! Thank you so much for showing me that! If you hadn’t, I might not have seen it. But we don’t need any today.”) I never said the item’s name. We turned the corner to go down the frozen food aisle and–completely spontaniously–Nate hollers, “‘UP’AKE!” I couldn’t turn the cart around fast enough. If you say it, you get it, and my boy had a soft frosted cookie in one hand and a mini cupcake in the other. (As I explained to Nate’s Tutu Kathy, we best start building that stable for the ‘ony.)
We have one of the slowest moving potty trains around but it is still moving. Take #3 began in January. For the most part, Nate goes to the potty every half hour and sits there for five to ten minutes. Since January, we’ve probably had 15-20 wins–total. About 70% were at school and 30% were at home, all of which were first thing in the morning. We’ve learned Nate has spectacular bladder control–he wakes up dry after sleeping 12 hours and will hold it for another hour to 1.5 hours before finally going to the bathroom. Knowing this, we now need to help Nate learn to use that bladder control for good (the potty) and not for evil (the diaper). Toilet training has also helped strengthen Nate’s self-help skills. Ms. Susie reports that Nate’s becoming a pro at pulling up his underoos, pull-up diaper, and pants. And he’s only had one toilet “incident”: after gym class at school one day, Nate was tired. The shorter potty with the narrower seat was unavailable so Nate got on the big boy potty with his therapist at his side. Nate started to get a little drowsy and, before anyone could do anything, Nate went for a swim in the pot. He seems to have forgotten the affair though (thank goodness!) and no other fall-ins have occurred. When Nate does have a win, the therapists’ screams are so loud that everyone in the teacher’s lounge knows Nate had a win! As we enter and exit school, I also tell everyone we see. Adults cheer! Kids high five Nate! And Tater just beams with pride. I’m not sure he knows why exactly they’re cheering but he sure does enjoy it!
For a period of time during the fall, Nate stopped sleeping in a socially acceptable pattern. He used to go to sleep quite nicely after 3 mg of melatonin (hidden in a spoonful of ice cream). The melatonin helped him get through the night but, suddenly, it stopped doing the trick. Nate would fall asleep between 6pm and 8pm and start his day between 11pm and 1am, with or without melatonin. It was maddening. He laid in his bed and hollered “Hello! Hello!” while giggling until someone came to get him. Then he came in our bed and watched a teevee show while Chad and I hovered in a semi-sleep state. About three to four hours later, Nate would fall asleep. (It was easier if we could get a second dose of melatonin in Nate but he often refused.) If Nate didn’t wake up around 1am, then he started the day between 3am and 4am. We were walking zombies. Then, in December, Nate randomly got a 103 degree fever. No other symptoms, just a fever. It lasted one day and one night and, for that night, Nate slept through it. Ever since that fever, Nate slept through the night or has woken up once and goes right back to sleep. Unfortunately, the anesthesia from the dental drama seems to have reset all of this. Now Nate can sleep through the night only if he has melatonin — but sometimes he falls asleep before he takes it, which means a party will commence between 11:30pm – 2:30am. When he wakes up, we just put the melatonin in a small cup of Kefir (like a yogurt smoothie) and he’s usually back to sleep in an hour. Much more humane than pre-December but still…I’d like to return to those sleeping-through-the-night nights soon.
Nate’s imitation skills have gone through the roof and I think a lot of it comes from the confidence he’s gained in PT and OT. In those therapy sessions, Nate’s learned how to throw and catch a ball, jump (in place and slightly forward), and is really, really close to accomplishing a solo head roll. PBS Kids has these awesome exercise videos called Dash’s Dance Party and Nate loves them. As many of the dance moves involve jumping or other gross motor skills, Nate couldn’t participate before but now he can! If he hears one on the tele, Nate stops what he’s doing and comes on over to imitate Curious George and Dash’s dance moves — and he’s really good at it! Nate’s also taken to physically acting out one particular Curious George episode and performs the back up singers’ (who are, ahem, germs) dance, the lead singer’s guitar playing (yes, another germ), and other silly moments in the show. Nate’s also started to do some pretend play; as pictured above, he’ll pretend to sprinkle salt on our meals when we go out to eat. Neither me nor Chad do this so we’re not sure where Nate picked this up–but at least it’s a perfectly appropriate use of salt.
Over the past few months, Nate’s shown an interest in being helpful around the house, a milestone that we completely missed. He helps Chad unpack the Costco box of yogurt. Nate unpacked the oranges from Super Grandpa and lined them up perfectly on the counter. When asked, he’ll return to the wide-open fridge, close the yogurt drawer, and then close the door. It’s really awesome and has allowed Nate to be included in a lot of regular family activities. It might take longer to accomplish but we don’t mind. We’re very proud that Nate is showing an interest in helping!
Folks, that’s all the news that’s fit to print or, in other words, all that I can muster. Until next time….