Tuesday, September 28, 2010

One step forward, one step back, and now we're cha-cha-ing

Last week, I started writing about how great R has been doing. And, for the most part, he is. He started first grade and occupational therapy and an after-school science class and started up again with soccer and swimming. He has a lot of homework - exponentially more than in kindergarten - and he does it willingly and does a good job with it. And, nearly all of it involves writing. He still doesn't love writing, but he does it without the dramatics and arguments and whining and complaining he used in kindergarten (and over the summer). We hadn't even felt the need to have a special meeting with his new teacher (which we fully expected to do when school started) because, from what R had told us, we thought he was participating fully. He talks a lot more this year about projects he's working on, things he's written, etc.

But then his teacher sent home a packet of what he had worked on in school the first two weeks. For all of R's writing assignments, he wrote the shortest possible answers - sometimes one word when he was supposed to be writing 2 or 3 sentences. Argh! So, I emailed his teacher today to set up some time to talk.

I'm frustrated, but trying to stay focused on the improvements I've seen in R. At home, he doesn't get frustrated as easily, and he can even step away sometimes from a frustrating situation. He's told me, "I'm not freaking out, Mommy, I just need to stretch my muscles." He realizes that he needs some physical input, and he makes sure he gets it. He asks us for big bear hugs often.

Even his occupational therapist has been kind of blown away by him. It's like night and day between when he was evaluated and now (four months later). He loves going to therapy because it's a giant playspace - he gets to use a zipline, climb rock walls, jump onto huge inflatable cushions and mattresses, spin around until he's dizzy, make caves out of pillows. Last week, his therapist started working with him on writing, so I'm optimistic about that. She told us that one problem for him is that he holds his pencil much too tightly, in a clenched fist. No one could write for very long like that, so it may explain part of why he doesn't write more than a few words at a time.

I admit I'm having a hard time with all of this. I find it infuriating because I know how smart R is and I'm sure that a big part of his problem is that he just doesn't want to do the work. [Edited to add: OK, that sounds harsh, but I've seen it in action at home. He is fully capable of writing several sentences and drawing a detailed picture when he wants to. Or, building with the tiniest of Legos for hours on end. So, it's hard for me to blame it on fine motor skill issues.] And, I wasn't expecting him to have that attitude this early on in life!

But, he reminds me all the time what an amazing little guy he is - sweet, loving, funny, smart, zany, thoughtful, insightful, and silly. I know I'm blessed to be his mom. Like any parent, I have lots of fears for his future. I just need to set those aside (as many times as it takes) and enjoy him for who he is, the crazy monkey. :-)


sandwhichisthere said...

is R left or right handed? He might be using the wrong hand. Does he do better with a ball point pen than a pencil? A fatter pencil might induce some change. From your description it sounds like the problem might be physical rather than mental. There are some ball point pens that have a soft rubber covering that might alleviate his clenching so hard if slippage is the problem. I remember being amazed by the obvious fact that left handed people can't write with a fountain pen. Sometimes solutions merely require a small change,

Kristen said...

Hi, Dad. He's right-handed. And, yeah, I was thinking finding some squishy things to go around his pencil might help him. He's not supposed to use pen for school, unfortunately.

City Girl said...

I think parenting is about a lot of cha-cha-chas, which can be fortunate or unfortunate, depending on how the dance goes. I'm happy that you are communicating with his teacher and therapist and that there have been notable improvements as compared to last year. It *will* get easier; it just takes time, patience, work and faith. xoxo