On Monday, while getting dressed, Aleck asked me to do this thing he likes where I puff my cheeks out and then smash them with my hands ala John Belushi in Animal House. After watching me do it he went to reach up to his face to do it himself and started to scream. He can’t come close to reaching his face when he’s lying down and the frustration got the better of him as he started to cry. I looked at those tears and knew it was time to start talking about this. For months my mom has been saying that he has to know something is different about him, especially since he’s been in preschool surrounded by able bodied kids his own age. After all, he’s a very observant little boy, who was quick to point out on Monday morning that Daddy was complaining about how warm and steamy it was in the bathroom. We don’t talk about complaining in our house so we were both pretty shocked that not only did he say it, he used it correctly in this context. Truly nothing gets by him. I guess I’m only surprised that we haven’t talked about this earlier.
A few months ago, as I was putting him to bed, Aleck started asking me about my body and how my body moves, body part by body part. He started with my mouth, then my nose, went onto my legs, asked about my ears, and finished with the elbows. At that moment I knew he sensed something was up but I was waiting for him to open the door. So on Monday morning I opened it myself watching his little face turn red with frustration. I simply said, “Aleck, do you want to talk about it?” To which he responded, “Yes, let’s talk about it, please mommy.” But where do you begin this conversation at 7am on a Monday morning when I’m heading to an office and he’s heading out the door for preschool and we still have an entire morning of routines to get through in order to get to our required Monday morning destinations?
I guess you start simply, at the beginning, and I explained how he got stuck in a funny position in mommy’s tummy when he was a baby. And because of that he has trouble moving parts of his body like his knees and his elbows. To this he proudly exclaimed, “But Mommy, I can bend my knees, see,” and displayed the barely 90 degree knee flexion he can get with a huge smile on his face. I asked him if he noticed he was different from the other kids at preschool and he said, “Yeah, I’m different.” Then with a huge smile on my face I bent down and kissed him all over his adorable little face. He didn’t look sad, but he said it with a heavy sigh. After that we talked a bit about the new elbow splints he recently got, the ones he’s now wearing during his sippy cups of milk at home, and how they are supposed to help him bend his elbows so that it’ll be easier for him to get his hands to his face. I also explained that if these don’t work we’ll probably try serial casting in the fall. This prompted a big protest on his part. He didn’t want them with his “cereal”! I explained the different words and he settled into my lap for his sippy, letting me strap on his elbow splints without any protesting or complaining.