Storm before the calm
Posted on August 1st, 2010
That’s what my sister calls the developmental maelstroms that kids are in before they make breakthroughs. I love the phrase, because it captures it perfectly. I’ve been in the middle of a category 5 developmental storm with P for the last two months (as you may have noticed by the increasingly desperate sounding posts), and now that we’re coming out the other side, I’m realizing a) just how awful it’s been and b) just how much she’s developed.
When your kids are learning to stand and walk, all their energy goes into these things – like in the middle of the night, they’ll stand up in their crib. It’s all they can focus on. And those big physical changes are cool, but they’re also so well supported in the literature – parents who read up will know and understand what the kids are going through. And kids go through them roughly about the same time, developmentally.
What doesn’t come out (or hasn’t so much in my reading) is that the later, less obvious changes result in the same sort of inner turmoil. And every kid is different and may go through it in a completely different order – so that has made for a really miserable kid (and parents) on our end. I can’t find my kid in a book, because she’s on her own, weird timetable (and my mother pointed out, she could never find me in a book, either). Asynchronous development.
In the two-klonopin conversation with my mother, I managed to get all of P’s recent changes out: development of empathy, complex communications and vocabulary explosion, perfection of prepositions, fine motor manipulation (I almost bought some small plastic beads at IKEA until I visualized them all over the floor of the loft: maybe next time), gross motor skills (climbing and headstands and somersaults and some back bends), focus and concentration (30-45 minutes of playing Legos/blocks alone), “reading” books to me and telling stories about the pictures in books she’s not familiar with, writing her first letter (a backwards “j”), recognizing letters everywhere we go, opposites, classifying animals (extant and dinosaurs) by physical characteristics and diet, and so on.
Major milestone: Today I remembered that when I was a kid, I hated feeling like a kid and being treated like a kid. And so tonight, I told P that she had a grown up dinner (which she normally had, anyway). And for the first time in months, there was no dinner battle. She ate fettuccine alfredo, a spinach/cucumber/cranberry salad with balsamic vinaigrette (and I make it strong), and corn. And asked for more salad when she was done. No drama. No “I don’t want it.” She ate dinner like a civilized little person. And told me she was grown up when she was done. I agreed.
And there are the phobias: insects and robots, primarily.
And while some of these obviously build on older skill sets, a lot of it has just emerged. No wonder she’s been so difficult lately. It’s crazy how much she’s processing and developing. When I’m having these two-yellow-pill nights, I need to remember why. And that talks with my mother, while painful, are also sometimes useful.