This weekend was the annual Winter Wonderland Party for the Center for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing (CDHH). AJ receives early-education services from CDHH. His EET (refer to Blog LINGO-scroll down-its on the left bottom) comes to our home once a week. We were looking forward to the party since there would be a signing snowman, cookie decorating, face-painting, coloring, story-time (signed), and music-time. I was looking to the signing snowman the most.
AJ woke up early which threw off his whole napping schedule. We picked up Grandma Cheri and arrived mid-party. By the time we got there, we discovered the signing snowman was gone. The cookie decorating table was taken down just as we settled in. AJ does not color (yet). Face-painting + child with sensory issues with his face/head especially = disaster. We didn't even pursue that. We ventured into the play area where they had an igloo (crawl-through tube), a ball pit, slides, etc. By the time we got in there the sign that said "Parents Please Supervise Your Children" had gone out the window and the kids were hyper off of cookies & hot chocolate. Understandable, but not so good for AJ. Jeremy and I both looked at each other and knew if we put him down he would get trampled. Literally.
Instead, we went back to our table. I saw a baby, probably around a year of age, watching his Mommy sign to him and I could tell he "got it." I had a huge cloud of guilt suddenly hover over me. Why does my son not understand me? I'm not doing enough. He should be understanding more signs. What do I need to do to make this happen? I know what everyone will say. You can only do so much, there are only so many hours in a day, you're doing a great job. He's got other things going on in addition to the hearing loss. I know all these things. But I am also incredibly aware of the things we need to do to keep him progressing. Any parent that has a special needs child knows that plateaus-SUCK.
Four helpings of pistachio salad for AJ later, we left the party.
Despite our hardest efforts to NOT have it be this way, this time of year is a little bittersweet. While we are having a ball shopping for AJ this year, this season is still hard for us. Last year, we had hope in thinking "next year, he'll get it." "Next year, he'll be able to participate." Don't get me wrong...I am thrilled and amazed that my son has made such tremendous progress going from 0-15 months developmentally in a year and a half. I am thrilled he is responding to more signs and making daily progress. But, we took him to an event geared for children/families with hearing loss and yet he still didn't benefit from it. We are going to take him to see Santa soon. We were not avoiding Santa this year, but though the signing snowman would be more appropriate and special. Of course it bothers me he can't hear Santa's sleigh bells, but I don't see this visit to Santa being as heartbreaking as the first. Right now, its the rest of the stuff that bothers us. Sometimes we don't feel like "doing IT", whatever "it" may be, simply because AJ doesn't "get it". All of this is hard only on us, as parents, at this point. I hope we snap out of this funk sooner than later.
On a positive note:
We visited with AJ's EET for a while at the party. We also ran into the instructor of the sign classes Grandma Cheri & I took. Well call her "T". She is deaf and is one of the teachers for the toddler group we so desperately want to get AJ into. She is the cutest & most ecstatic pregnant woman I've ever met, which is such a breath of fresh air! She can't wait to be a Mommy!! "T" and I communicated in sign. I understood everything she said, which is not a feat, but she understood me too. I felt very proud. It was great to see so many people using a common language-other than English.
We found a new tree-as ours was older than old-and was past its prime. We decided to stick with artificial, as it is more cost-effective. We made our tree lights "blink" by using the twinkle bulbs. Grandma Cheri had told us a few weeks back that he enjoyed Great Grandma's tree when she turned the lights on/off.
So, we know what "doesn't benefit AJ" (yet). Jeremy and I brainstormed last night to figure out what we could do that AJ would enjoy. We are going to take him to Candy Cane Lane and to the light display at the Country Inn & Springs Hotel in Waukesha. We have heard that light display is amazing. In addition, Grandma Cheri and I will be making Christmas cookies here soon and we'll have AJ "help". Extra bonus: He's only 1 room away from the bathtub for easy cleanup!
I am also constructing AJ's 1st experience book. A few months ago AJ's EET & I created an "All About Me" book for AJ. We had taken pictures of me dressing AJ & a few of his favorite toys. We mounted them on cardstock, wrote captions (i.e. "AJ stands up, he's all dressed"), laminated each sheet, punched holes in them and put them all together with silver clip rings. This is sort of the same idea. I am working on a winter/holiday book for him. Soon we will be reading & signing with the book each day. Hopefully I can keep this going and do more experience books for him. (Did I mention I'm still working on his lifebook-first visit pages-STILL) I will post pictures as soon as I am finished with it.
Snapping out of it and taking the detour ahead? Workin' on it.