Wednesday, July 19, 2006


After months of frustration, Nicholas is having a good week. I've been watching him closely this week and I'm noticing a few key areas of improvement that make my heart sing. Maybe it's the fact that he just turned 5 and therefore turned some sort of corner, but whatever it is I want to keep it going.

Nicholas has never been a kid with a lot of "stick-to-it-tive-ness". He's usually a quitter when something is deemed "too hard". He gives up. He's not generally influenced by seeing other kids succeed at the task, either. "That kid can do it? Well, I can't so I quit!" seems to be his mantra. You simply cannot push him if he's not ready and willing. He digs his heels in and launches a full-scale meltdown not to be trifled with. He does not take instruction well and seems to regard attempts at helping his improve as criticism, not encouragement, no matter what you say/do, and he simply shuts down. Thoughts of our recent swimming lessons come to mind. Painfully.

But this week he has surprised me. Pleasantly. I took the kids to the playground yesterday (the playground at his new school, which was exciting stuff right there). Nicholas has always had a love-hate relationship with the monkey bars. They tend to be the bane of his existance. He really wants to be able to do the monkey bars, but usually can only manage a few before he drops off. But yesterday? Yesterday he realized the playground at school had a set of monkey bars that were low enough for him to reach them himself. He could grasp a bar while he feet were still on the ground. This inspired confidence. I LOVE when my kids have confidence to try something new. Well, he could not allow his feet to touch, not ever, or he'd have to start from the beginning all over again, but he was trying the monkey bars. By himself. He counted: there were 10 monkey bars and he was going to do them all! And I even dared to show him how to do the monkey bars such that only one hand was on each bar at a time, vs. putting both hands on each one as he went. HE ACCEPTED THIS INSTRUCTION AND TRIED IT WITHOUT A FIT! I was dumb-founded. But he must have seen the wisdom of my words and simply gave it a try. And it worked! He did it. He was able to go all the way across the monkey bars - all 10 of them. I made a BIG deal of his accomplishment, praising him for not giving up. And he kept going back for more. He tried and tried those monkey bars, starting over each time his foot scraped the ground. He wanted to do all 10 monkey bars 10 times, but managed 4. I counted 5, but he felt that just because he touched the last bar, not grabbed it, it didn't count. HE IMPRESSED ME BY NOT GIVING UP, EVEN WHEN IT WAS HARD AND HE "FAILED" SOMETIMES. I think this is progress. He did the same thing with the fireman pole. It was a good day.

Also? He's enrolled in a day camp this week. For 4 hours every afternoon this week he's at the YMCA for a "Water Week" camp. It's for kids K-5th. Monday was the first day, and I was fearful of a repeat of the awful swimming lessons. I was hopeful he'd love it like he did preschool, but the swimming lesson experience loomed in my head. We got there and he was anxious. There were a lot of kids, each and every one of them bigger and rowdier than him. He looked so little and vulnerable! I truly believe he's the smallest kid in the group. Not a lot of K's signed up, apparently. But he's been increasingly clingy to me in recent months, and we BOTH needed some time apart. So I was hoping camp would be a good experience for us both. I signed him in and promised I'd stay with him until he felt OK about staying. I made sure he knew who the "teachers" were. Everyone got called into a circle, and he insisted I stand right behind him in the circle. I was the only remaining parent. But he looked so fragile and scared, I HAD to stay. How could I leave?? And when it was time for him to say his name, he froze. Completely struck dumb. I had to pipe in with "this is Nicholas!" and let the next kid introduce themselves. This did not bode well. He started freaking out. "Sign me out, Mama! Sign me out! I want to go home!" with fat tears threatening to spill out of his deer-in-headlight eyes. I reassured him I would continue to stay and that camp would be fun! Fun! Then he told me he needed to pee - right now - but was scared to leave the group. I told him I stay with him and take him to the bathroom and then bring him back to the group. He reluctantly agreed. Had I not been there I'm sure he would have peed his pants rather than speak up. He was still too scared. The kids were all being sheparded into a sport court area of the Y for games and races. All the kids were assigned a team for scooter races. Nicholas has never seen this type of scooter, and started freaking out. Crying, demanding I take him home, the works. I told him he didn't have to do the scooter race, but just watch it. Just sit here and watch the other kids, that's all. He reluctantly agreed to stay and watch, clinging to my hand. Eventually he let me move over to a bench on the sideline. Baby steps. Then a teacher came over to see if he wanted to try. Oh no, I thought. Here we go. Cue tears. But? No tears! He agreed to sit on the scooter and try it! Of course, with the first push of his feet (these are square little platform scooters with 4 swivel wheels. You generally sit on them and propel yourself backwards) he tipped the damn scooter over and fell on his back. No injury, other than to his pride. He burst into tears and came running to me, burying his head into my lap. I gave serious thought to withdrawing him and taking him home, believing he might not be ready for this after all. But then the teacher tempted him with being her helper for the next game. And this tactic worked. He was lured over to her side by sponge-like oversized hockey sticks and big red balls. And just like that he was ok. He started smiling and gave me the thumbs-up sign. I told him it was time for me to go, grasping at this narrow window of opportunity, and he just nodded his head and smiled at me. I blew him a kiss and a wave and he did the same, and I left. Just like that, I left. And he was FINE. It only took nearly an hour of mother-henning him, but it paid off. He LOVED camp for the rest of the afternoon. When I went back to pick him up - earlier than the stated time of 5pm - he was happily chasing bubbles on the lawn. He thanked me over and over for signing him up for day camp. What a change! And yesterday, day 2, was smooth as silk. I just dropped him off, signed him in, waited until they rounded everyone up into a circle - which he skipped off to join merrily - and left. THIS IS MAJOR PROGRESS, PEOPLE! Finally, Nicholas is gaining some confidence and independence. You have no idea how happy and proud this makes me.

Progress, gotta love it.

Now, if I could just convince Lauren that she's NOT a boy and not 5 years old, we'd be in business.

Great news for your little one. It's so important to celebrate their small victories and encourage them in their independance.
It sounds like your little boy is really starting to grow up! You'll miss the days, eventually, when he wanted to hold your hand all the time. :)

Many Blessings.
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