Monday, November 20, 2006

Wanted: Exorcist

Kalian is really starting to piss me off.

Okay, I know that sounds harsh. And I'm tempted to hit the delete key. But hear me out. Her looks can be deceiving. Parents who don't know her very well, especially random strangers, are constantly coming up to me and saying how cute, how mellow, how delightful she is. She is surely all sweetness and light. They only see this:

But they don't know what I know. And that is, at some point in the past several weeks, Kalian has become possessed by Satan. What these parents don't see are the kind of things that one can only see when you spend about 12 hours a day with another human being, especially one who is 18 months old. For instance, Kalian's favorite game? She likes to climb onto the kitchen table, open the pepper shaker, and shake pepper all over the fruit bowl. The other day, she crawled onto the computer table and I found her stabbing the flat screen computer monitor with a pen, leaving ink marks that now make it difficult to read as I type this. And then there was the afternoon when, rather than falling asleep in her crib, she managed to reach over to a bookshelf, grab a box of art supplies, locate the jar of glitter, and dump it all over herself and the crib.

And these parents don't see the pure spite gene that has grown dominant. Like when I spend 15 minutes attempting to get her to sit on the potty because I know she has to poop or pee. She resists, screaming, until I let her go, and them marches straight into the hall where she pivots, looks straight at me, and pees on the floor.

Out, Satan!

The demonic forces took control early this morning. After mercifully sleeping until almost 6 a.m., Kalian wandered out, Jen commanded that I follow, and I made my feeble attempts to get her on the potty. No luck. Then the screaming started. That was followed by my desperate attempts to figure out what she wanted, and what could mollify her. The screaming woke up Liam, who first began whining for some water, and then launched an all out assault on Kalian, who began to scream even louder, which made Liam scream, which made me scream at them...And then, as I was attempting to insert my head into the blender and was reaching for the puree button, the screaming stopped. And the two little cherubs were playing happily, for the moment. And I pulled back from the abyss.

What followed was our usual hectic Monday morning. We drove across town to take Liam to his occupational therapy appointment (I'll blog more about his later). And when that's done, we dash up the street to drop Kalian off at her day care coop (also, more later). And then it's back across town to take Liam to pre-school, Cambridge-Ellis (which certainly deserves its own blog entry). Suffice to say, it's an elite institution that costs more than the tuition I paid for my freshman year at Duke University. Liam has struggled to fit in socially, in part because he's with a slightly older group of kids who have been together, in some cases, for three years.

We walked in this morning, about 45 minutes late. I observed a stark gender divide, something that's not uncommon, and I can't decide whether it's something to do with this classroom, or if this is just what happens when they turn four. Anyway, all the girls had gravitated to the craft table. All the boys had circled around another table where they were playing with fire trucks, one of Liam's absolute favorite past times. (He was a firefighter for Halloween.) So Liam grabbed a fire truck and joined them at the table. Most of the boys picked up their trucks and walked away...And my heart broke just a little for Liam.

Don't get me wrong, many of these boys are wonderful kids, and we've had some great playdates with them (the culture of playdates is worth a whole epic blog on its own). But still, it was all very Lord of the Flies. I guided Liam over to rejoin them, and the teacher followed to explain about letting everyone participate. She said all the right things, but still, I wanted to somehow make it all right and wasn't sure how.

Then came my 2.5 hours of free time. Unfortunately, a big chunk of my free time has been spent dealing with another Liam issue. In recent weeks, he has developed a profound stutter. As many of you know, he's been getting speech therapy for two years and has made great strides, and has been incredibly positive about it. The stutter is fairly new. Out of nowhere, he could no longer produce sounds at time. His lips would purse, his face would grimace, his face would flush, and he would contort his body, attempting with every ounce of energy to produce a sound, sometimes with no luck.

This all began to happen just as the speech therapist assigned by Cambridge schools had to go on a personal leave. So the timing couldn't have been worse. With no replacement in sight, I've been trying to research our options, calling private therapists, scheduling doctor's appointments, vision screening, bloodwork, hearing tests. Today, I finally connected with a woman who is a renowned stuttering expert (or dysfluency, as it's formally called) and set up an evaluation for him next month. In the meantime, we're trying to reduce his stress, and just be calm and patient. While many therapists have noted that it's not unusual for kids to develop so-called developmental stutters, this appears to be quite a bit more serious, and therefore, potentially ominous for him. So we are hoping that's not the case.

Lest I leave you on a dreary note, I picked up Kalian at noon and we brought home one of her friends from Coop, Jacqueline, to watch as a favor to her parents. This was Kalian's first playdate, as such, and after the two stopped fighting over the baby dolls, and the babydoll stroller, they settled in and had quite a bit of fun. Jacqueline (about 26 months old) made herself right at home by peeling off her clothes and asking for a bath. Since this is Kalian's other favorite activity (she sometimes like three baths a day), I obliged. And as we sat in the bathroom and I watched them splash around joyfully, I thought, that I too could see that cute, sweet little urchin that is my daughter. Or so I'm told.

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