At the end of November I started to feel like I had a plan, for the first time since Aleck was born I was putting together a very clear picture of what the next year would look like. I took out my notebook and made a list of the things I want to work on, change, and phase out of his life in 2015.
First goal; no more bottles. He’s 3, it’s time. We already had one bottle changed to a straw cup, so this month we switched out bottle #2, and then in January we could switch out bottle #3. By spring he should not only be completely done with bottles but also completely done with the three times a day of dedicating a solid 30 minutes or more of time to getting that milk in him. This will leave us more time to play, more time to go to the library and more time to do fun crafts when we aren’t in preschool or therapy. Plus then we can start cutting down on his milk and hopefully he’ll increase his intake of solid foods since they have more calories anyway.
Second goal, no more diapers. I’ve been practically ignoring the potty situation for too long and now it’s time to be a bit more proactive. Encouraging him to go more, trying to add specific times of the day when he’s taken to the potty so it becomes a part of his routine, and of course teach him how to point his little pecker down so he doesn’t spray his legs and the floor every time. Again, he’s 3, this is the perfect time, he’s interested, let’s get this show on the road.
Third goal; out of the crib and into a bed. I’ll probably miss the crib more than he will and we could probably do this anytime we want to but I don’t want to throw too much at him at once.
Fourth goal; adding therapy sessions at Shriner’s to our schedule. We’ve been on the waitlist since September, they only reopened their outpatient therapy program a few years ago, it wasn’t in existence when Aleck was a baby, and I’m ready for some new blood on our team. Our interim OT at the RIC hasn’t been a great fit and no one knows if our rockstar OT is ever coming back. Plus I’m uninspired by their program, the constant changing of the guards, and the lack of anyone to sit down with and really outline goals for Aleck so we can make some real progress.
Fifth goal; explore school options for Aleck. The JCYS program is terrific but I need to set Aleck up in case we are still in the city when he’s in elementary school and there is no way he could tolerate two and a half more years of preschool. A year and a half, great, but he needs to start Kindergarten in fall of 2016 and CPS won’t take him because of his birthday. I’m working on a plan and it may mean we need to leave JCYS in order to line him up for the rest of his elementary education and it breaks my heart but at the end of the day I have to start looking at his future and not just taking everything day by day which I’ve been doing for the last three years.
Looking at this list I thought this looks doable, challenging but doable. We’ll just line them up and knock ’em down one by one. Then we went to Shriner’s last week and I left feeling like my head was going to explode. First we met with a lower body orthopedic surgeon whom we’d met with multiple times when Aleck was a baby. A very nice man with a lovely bedside manner (so rare these days), who put the idea of serial casting Aleck’s right ankle on the table. His theory is that the reason Aleck’s right foot is so turned out is because of how tight the muscles are in his right ankle. They may loosen up over time but we don’t know for sure and even though this could weaken some of his muscles it just may prevent him from painful surgeries in the future. Super funny since this summer I thought I was such a champion when I basically ganged up with Aleck’s other surgeon against his PT protesting serial casting of his ankles outright. Just when you think you know what you are doing…
Then we waited to meet with this amazing OT, Kate (another Kate), who we worked with a bit when Aleck was a baby. She made Aleck’s first pair of elbow splints for him and she was the first person to put him in tummy time. During follow up visits she gave us a lot of her time even though they weren’t doing outpatient OT there. We basically begged since we recognized what a rare find she was. I started reaching out to her in September when I found out they reinstated their outpatient therapy program lining Aleck up to get on her case load. When we finally got to see her I wasn’t prepared for the helping of tough love I was about to get and my to do list for 2015 got much longer. The short of the long is that we’ve been doing too much for him and now it’s time to leave him alone more and make him work for the things he wants, it’s time to stop babying him.
Sixth Goal: Aleck has to learn how to feed himself. She suggested leaving him alone during meals, sitting with him and eating our dinners, but not feeding him. The idea is he’ll eventually get hungry enough and figure it out. What? Yikes. If this was a solid little boy without three years of eating issues all of that would sound like good advice. But this is Aleck and I still think he would let himself go hungry if we left him to his own devices, unlike his mom who has never had a problem meeting and surpassing her caloric needs for each and every day.
Seventh Goal: Aleck needs to learn how to brush his teeth himself. Of course I’ll be on clean-up duty for years to come making sure he did a good job, but it’s time for him to take a more active part of his own care.
Seventh Goal: Aleck needs to sit up by himself. He can stay sitting if you put him there but he still can’t go from lying down to sitting up by himself and considering how great he’s walking there’s kind of no reason why he isn’t doing this on his own, oh, except for one, that mom of his who comes running every time he “meh”s to help him with whatever position he wants to be in…right.
Eighth Goal: Aleck needs to pull himself into a standing position. (see seventh goal for comparable explanation).
Ninth Goal: Aleck needs to learn how to dress himself. Wait, what? I can barely dress him without cutting open his shirts, cramming his little arms into those shirt holes because it’s so hard to bend them, holy wow. We’re going to have to lie him on the floor and make him start working for his own pants at arm’s reach.
So suddenly my plan for next year went from challenging and manageable to Holy Cow in just thirty minutes. I went home, I cried, I went to sleep, I woke up and got Aleck to preschool, I cried again, and Craig and I started to prioritize and even started to work on the self-feeding, the teeth brushing, and to our surprise Aleck was up for the challenge. We started to begin dinners with him taking about 5 bites himself before we would start to feed him and he responded really well, that is, until he broke a bone in his wrist and split open his chin over the weekend. Two steps forward…