For part I click here.
My wife’s background as a therapist enabled her to notice things very early on with our daughter that many might have missed. By "many" I mean me and by "might have" I mean did. In fact, the only reason our daughter (daddy’s little girl, DLG1) never received speech therapy is because my wife is a
speech therapist, so our daughter has been unconsciously annunciating
since she was a baby: I saaaaaid, “Wah, wah.” What can’t you understand about that, father? Now please hand me my bottle before I flip out. DLG1 does, however, currently have three non-speech therapists.
Her physical therapist has done wonders with the four-month-old we handed her who could not hold her head up. Not including illegal narcotics, DLG1 did not receive any pre-natal care, which caused her to have the physical strength and stamina of banana pudding. Now she is more athletic than most kids her age, and last year won “a long jumping contest” at school. On those days when she’s being particularly difficult around other well-behaved children and their parents, I walk away thinking smugly, “Don’t judge us—she can jump farther than ALL of you!”
She also receives occupational therapy, where she works on the fine motor skills of everyday life and gets to do physical things that stimulate her brain activity. At first I thought occupational therapy was going to find her a job, although that unfortunately has not happened. Yet. Jokes aside, her PT and OT, who have seen her since she was a baby, are God-sent angels from heaven who have taught our daughter how to walk, run, swim, and live, and who have the patience of 10 Mother Teresas. It’s like, who taught your kid how to walk—you? Pfft.
Our daughter also had other therapies when she was younger that were called … something, and where she did … things. Who can keep track anymore, amiright? (high fives no one)
Finally, our daughter has straight up behavioral therapy. That’s right—DLG1 sees a child psychologist. Your kid had a tantrum in the grocery store? That stinks. My 3-year old is in therapy, CHECK-MATE. She’s sitting on the couch looking at flashcards of blurry images and telling her therapist they look like the monsters that scare her in the night.
Because, yes, our daughter has night terrors. I’m sure it has nothing to do with spending nine months in a meth womb. She doesn’t even know where she is or who she is when she “wakes up” from these episodes. She’s completely out of it. My wife, while soothing her, will do her best Cher impression and say, “Snap out of it!” and then slaps me in the face. I don’t get this, but it seems to help. (Not really.)
DLG1 has had several sleep studies performed, during which she has what seems like 2,000 wires attached to her and my wife gets to spend the night at Phoenix Children’s Hospital on a cot. The only two restful nights of DLG1’s entire life thus far have been during these respective sleep studies—ha, ha, little stinker!—and so results have been inconclusive. Less inconclusive: every other night.
This trauma during sleep has caused her to have an extreme anxiety about sleep. So it wasn’t a surprise to us when she started exhibiting behaviors during nap time at school, purposely getting herself in trouble so she’d be sent to the office and miss nap (despite everything you now know of her background, DLG1 is whip-smart). After meetings with school administrators—fun! Did I mention she is 3?—we had to eliminate nap time altogether, which helped but also means she is spent by the end of the day. This then leads to its own brand of behaviors, making it impossible to tell if they’re the result of her being tired, her traditionally defiant age, or her specific issues. It’s cool when, after a long day at work, you pick up your kids and you try to leave school except your older daughter randomly decides to go bonkers in the hallway because the Velcro strap on her shoe came loose. “Hey, why not just re-strap it?” you say calmly but through clenched teeth, except everything just gets worse and now everyone is looking and before you know it you are flying high on a metaphorical cloud of confused rage. Ha, ha … that is called WEDNESDAY.
But what is the ultimate cause of these behaviors, these terrors, these anxieties? What has lingered from her trauma-filled human development and first weeks on Earth? And how has this affected us as parents? (Hint: It has not made us less stressed and unsure of ourselves.) We’ll discuss more next week. I hope you are having fun!
Note: This column appears in the 6/20 issue of The Glendale Star and the 6/21 issue of the Peoria Times.