Sending the Sensory Kid to School

We had a school interview for Dexter’s future primary school yesterday.
It all went pretty well, she was impressed that he not only knows how to say Paleontologist but that he also told her he wants to be one and find fossils when he’s older, you know, if he can’t be a Mako Shark because that’s what he really wants to be.
I’m anxious about sending him to school, for various reasons.
I know when we changed child cares, he flourished.
He’s a different child now. Confident, sharing his knowledge with everyone, not only playing with others but leading the play. Tell stories, making jokes. Making friends.
He doesn’t come home sad any more.
He doesn’t come home telling me that his friends don’t love him.

And I don’t want that to change.
I know I can’t protect him forever but I was actually aching just thinking about it.
I don’t know how I will survive not being able to fix everything with a kiss and a cuddle.
But it’s not about me, is it?

I’m super impressed that the school is completely on board with sensory kids, to the point they have weighted dog toys that the kids use in the classrooms to hug and play with, to calm them down.
She wants reports from Dexter’s OT so that the teachers can follow through with his progress and everyone can be on the same page.

I’m terrified about how it will impact him.
Even last night he had a meltdown about how big the day was.
I’m so terrified I’m already looking up OOSH booking forms so I know and he knows and we can practice it.
Lots of different groups of people, of different ages each and every day.

But he’s clever. I know he’ll cope.
I’ll be taking him to the OT soon so we can talk about this transition, about practicing our words and letters and patience and how we can best help him be happy.

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Bribery Or Work Ethic

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I took Dexter to the shops.
I let him look around and find a toy he fell in love with.

Then, we bought a money box.
I introduced the idea of pocket money for chores and saving toward a goal.

Every letter he completes (as above) gets him 50c
He gets pocket money at the end of the week provided he does his jobs.
He can earn extra by doing other big jobs like cleaning his sister’s room.

Part of me feels like this is bribery.
I’m bribing him with money to do things I want him too. Part of me knows he should probably do some of them anyway without reward because it’s what is expected.

But what is expected isn’t something that this not quite five year old can comprehend.
I certainly think it’s less emotionally damaging than “it makes Mummy happy when you clean your room”
I am also hoping it teaches him the value of work and what he owns because that can be an issue.

What do you think?
Do you give your kids pocket money?

We Have White Skin

Today at the shops Dexter was looking around and noticing the color of other people’s skin.
There are big Indian and Nigerian communities around our area as well as Aboriginal.
He said to me “we all have white skin.” And held his arm next to mine.
I replied “we all have different colors” And showed him how his, mine and Lola’ s are different.
He seemed satisfied with that.

In the car, he brought it up again.
“Why do we all have white skin that is the same but different?”

I’m not the kind of parent who says “that’s not something we talk about.” I think kids should know. Skin color is no different to eye color or hair color.
And so I told him, it depends on our mums and dads and where is the world we’re from.

And then I told him “you know what’s even more important than skin color though? How kind you are. And how helpful you are. And how you share and look after people. And how when someone is sad -when someone is sad you give them a cuddle and love them and make them happy?  – yes honey you do – and when you’re swimming with someone and there are sharks and crocodiles all around you don’t let them be by themselves even if you swim faster? ”

Yes Dexter. All those things are more important than the color of your skin.

Children; Life’s Little Awkward Moment Makers

So the other day we’re sitting at Nanna’s dining table with Lola and Dex was tiptoeing along the edges of tiles nearby.
Talking about their genitalia – as children are often inclined to.

Lola informs Nanna “I’ve got a vagina. and Dexter has a penis!”
To which Dexter adds “Yep! I do!” And wiggles in our general direction to emphasize the point.

Lola then sits and thinks for a second before telling Nanna “And Daddy has a BIIIIIIIIG penis!”
Because obviously everyone’s bits need to be discussed at the dining table.

Not to be outdone though because the next day:

In the parent’s room at the local shopping centre and we’re in the toilet 0 the one that has the small toilet and the big toilet.
Lola was on the little toilet and Dex was on the big toilet.
Dex had finished so I decided to do a wee also.

Once Lola had finished, we washed our hands and we’re walking out and Dex loudly says “Lola’s got a little vagina. Mummy has a BIG vagina. Little vagina’s don’t have hair on them.”

 

Geez, thanks guys.

P.S. These are things we discuss at home. We always talk about how it’s not appropriate for anyone to touch your vagina or penis. About how it is yours and yours alone and to tell either Mummy or Daddy if anyone touches you and makes you feel yucky.
We don’t shame any particular body part and all parts are talked about openly.

Up Until Now

Up until this point I have avoided that Dexter has Sensory Processing Disorder.
I got a diagnosis for him and it felt like a weight off my shoulders and I was relieved.

I was not a bad parent.
I did not have a “naughty” child.
I had a child with sensory processing disorder and that explained a shitload.

But then I put it out of my mind.
People around me treated it as if I was looking for an excuse for his behaviour.
Like I just accepted that by some standard he is “naughty” and I was just saying oh it’s okay, he has x.

I got told “You know you can just use a wooden spoon.”

You know what?It doesn’t fucking work.
None of it fucking works.

Not yelling. Not smacking. Not shaming.
Ashamed to say – I’ve tried it all.
Bargaining. Pleading. Punishing. Rewarding.

My kid is a seeker.
He will do things over and over again even though he’s been told not to because he seeks sensory input.
He will jump off things and run into things and hit things and yell – not to be mean or rude but because he likes the feeling of it.

And while yes – it is my “job” as a parent to help him find stimulation that meets his needs in a safe way, he will keep doing it.

BECAUSE HE HAS SENSORY PROCESSING DISORDER.

Maybe next time you feel like being a judgy mc-judgy pants to that mum at the supermarket who is holding back the tears, consider how SHE feels. And maybe that he child is not “being naughty” or “needing a good smack”.

Dexter Has Sensory Processing Disorder

So Dex has SPD.
If you’re wondering what that is here is the long version : Sensory Processing Disorder explained
But basically what it means is that his brain doesn’t process the input in the “normal” way so appropriate reactions don’t always occur.
He has very poor body awareness.
He has very low self esteem.
He has some serious anxiety.

My beautiful, little four year old.

In a way it’s a relief because I knew something was going on.
And then it’s heartbreaking, thinking of all the things he will go through that he doesn’t understand.
Like when he comes home from daycare and tells me that he just wanted to love his friend today but his friend wanted to love someone else and didn’t play with him.
Or when someone picks on him for eating his favourite food. It is so much more than kids being kids.

I know he’ll be fine.
I know he is smart and clever and all those things.

But you can’t help but think “That’s my little boy. What happened? Why does he have low self esteem? did I not praise him enough?”

And when you tell a family member and they tell you that they’re “not judging, but it’s probably because you like to play video games so you don’t get outside enough with him.”

I didn’t get a manager’s position at work that I applied for.

It’s just one of those times where everything feels like it’s piling up.

Relief

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Last night we had people over for a business thing.
One of them is an early childhood educator whom I respect very much.
I mentioned to him that I had finally gotten an Occupational Therapist appointment for Dex.
I hadn’t mentioned to him all of the things going on with Dex.
He asked what I hoped that would achieve and I told him I think Dex has some sensory things going on. He nodded and replied “I had noticed that but I didn’t want to say anything in case I offended.”

It is a relief that it is not just me that sees it.
I worry that I sound like a terrible person, complaining about my child. But I’m not complaining. Yes, he’s difficult. Very, very difficult sometimes when it is all too much for him and me. Even more difficult in that his sister copies him and also listens to him when he encourages her to do things he knows will get him in trouble -so he can say she did it.
But he is also beautifully loving and gorgeously emotional.
He loves holding your face and looking in your eyes to tell you he loves you. His favorite thing is to have a big snuggle. He would lie in bed and let you read to him all day. He tries so hard to please and impress everyone he meets.

I just want his world to make more sense.
I have to fill out a sensory profile soon and when I asked what things he had noticed, my friend replied that Dex flinches a lot when he’s touching things. I actually hadn’t noticed it as much as that. I had noticed a couple of times but it is always good to ask someone else – you might miss it because you’re around it all the time. It’s just your normal.

24th January cannot come fast enough.