learning curve

Our previous baby-sitter, Nicole, emailed me over the weekend to ask if Catie could come play in the morning one day this week. Catie was good friends with Nicole’s daughter Kiersten, and I know they’ve missed each other these past couple of months, so I thought sure, why not. We decided that Catie could go play on Wednesday morning, since that worked for both Nicole’s and my schedules.

On Tuesday, when I picked Catie up from daycare, the director stopped me and asked if I had five minutes to talk. I said ok, and my stomach immediately knotted up. Why is that? It was like some residual “getting called into the principal’s office” fear that came out of nowhere. The woman is only a few years older than me. Why am I intimidated? Bizarre.

She wanted to know what I thought about moving Catie up to the preschool class. The class Catie’s in now is called the “Upper Twos,” which means it’s kids that range from 2 1/2 years old to kids that just recently turned 3. The preschool class is all 3 year-olds. I thought that being fully potty-trained was a prerequisite for the preschool class, but the director said no, there are a few kids in that room who are still in Pull-Ups. (For the record, Catie has probably a 90-95% success rate with peeing in the potty. It’s just the poop. I cannot get her to poop in the potty to save my freaking life.) The main difference between the rooms is the curriculum. She had noticed that Catie knows all of her letters and the sounds they make (which I take absolutely no credit for, it was totally because of this) and she can count to 20, so she’s probably getting bored by the Upper Twos class, since they’re still working on that stuff there.

So we were talking about my Special Little Snowflake and how brilliant she is (naturally), and I was thinking about Catie’s upcoming playdate at Nicole’s house and how much it threw me when Nicole suspected that Catie had SPD, and the thing I wrote yesterday about her going down the slide… And I just blurted out and asked her if she had noticed if Catie ever displayed any signs of Sensory Processing Disorder. She looked a bit surprised, but she said that she’d spent quite a bit of time in that classroom (filling in when one of the other teachers was out sick), and that she’d never noticed anything remotely abnormal about her.

I said, “Well, you know, she is scared of swings and she only recently decided that the slide was ok, but she still hates her tricycle…”

She said, “Yeah. But, she’s THREE. It’s not the same as it would be if she was scared of those things at 5 or 6 years old.”

I admit it, I sort of breathed a sigh of relief. (And no, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with kids who have SPD, or that it’s bad, or whatever. Some random person showed up the last time I wrote about it and completely took what I was saying out of context & was offended, so I’d like to just state that up front. I am not blasting your kid. I’m just talking about my own.)

Of course, when I talked about changing classes with Catie herself, she was dead set against it. They’re going to ease her in and let her spend a couple of hours in the preschool class here and there, and let her gradually make the shift. I think it’ll be really good for her.

And for the record, the playdate at Nicole’s house this morning was fine. She and Kiersten hugged both when we first got there, and again when it was time to leave. I love that it seems easy for her to make friends. I already knew she adored her cousin. It’s nice to see those friendships develop with non-family members too.

I picked her up from Nicole’s house around 11, and she got upset when I said that I was going to take her to daycare. My gut instinct knew that she wanted to spend time with me, not just get shuttled from one place to the other. So I decided that work could wait for a little while, and I took my favorite girl out for lunch.

Lunch break with Mommy

Mommy Time FTW! The chicken nuggets and french fries didn’t hurt either.

do I sound defensive? Or normal? (And do I even want to know the answer to that?)

Yesterday rocked my world in good ways and bad.

The Good
I woke up grouchy and decided to lie in bed for a while. When I finally dragged my butt downstairs, I found that Dave had cleaned up the house. All by himself, without my asking. THEN, he went out to run errands and took Catie with him so I could have some quiet time alone. And when they came home, the two of them brought me flowers. Which was Dave’s idea, but he let Catie pick them out. Her response when he suggested it? “Yeah, that’s a great idea! Flowers make Mommy happy!”

I seriously started to wonder if he’d been replaced by some type of cyborg husband by the end of the day, but I decided not to question it. Because my cyborg husband rocks.

The Bad
I got an email from Catie’s daycare provider that she’s worried that Catie has Sensory Processing Disorder (a disorder on the autism spectrum). I realize that it must’ve been very hard for her to write that email, because it’s got to be very awkward to discuss this sort of thing with parents, but still. Even knowing that, my initial reaction upon reading it was, “You think there’s something wrong with my precious little baby? ROAARR, MAMA BEAR ANGRY!!!!”

And I think I can say with absolute certainty that Catie does not have SPD, but I do think her behavior at daycare is very different than her behavior at home. These are the things that Nicole has observed while Catie is at daycare:

1. She doesn’t engage in imaginative play or seem to want to get involved in playing with other kids. This is COMPLETELY opposite of how she is at home. She is constantly running up to me and saying, “Mommy, you Dorothy! I Toto!” Earlier tonight it was, “You mama cow, I baby cow.” And when she’s playing with her toys, they have entire storylines that they act out.

And as far as getting involved with other kids, she interacts with her cousin Elizabeth when they play, so I know the ability is there. And I have seen her run up to a random kid she doesn’t know and say, “Hi, little girl! Wanna play wif me?” I’m not so much worried about her social development.

2. Her fine motor skills seem underdeveloped. Yes, this is a problem. This is also almost entirely my fault. I haven’t taught her how to use a spoon to feed herself because I hate messes and I’m lazy. So I feed her & save myself the clean-up. Yes, it’s bad, and we’re working on it. I guess it’s the curse of being an only child, I still think of her as a baby, so I don’t push her to try to do all the major self-sufficient things (like dressing herself).

3. She has issues with food textures. Yeah. She does. So does Dave. She’s getting a lot better about it – like, she’ll actually pick up a PB&J sandwich now – so I’m not terribly worried about it.

4. She freaks out at the playground. This is true. She doesn’t like swings, or slides, or any of it. I don’t get it at all, honestly. Maybe it’s because she feels out of control? When my in-laws were here, her Grandpa Roger wrapped her up in a blanket and swung her around in it like a hammock, then lay it flat and dragged her all over the house like she was on a magic carpet, and she loved that and couldn’t get enough of it. So… I don’t know. That one’s a big question mark.

5. She often seems to be on the verge of crying, and can get set off into tears at the drop of a hat. This confuses me, because it is SO opposite of how she is at home. And it would make me worry that maybe this daycare isn’t a good fit for her, except that she acts like she loves it and asks me every day, “I go to Miss Nicole’s house today?” And she gets mad if it’s not a daycare day. So, maybe it’s that only going two days a week isn’t enough for her to really get comfortable acting like herself there? Or maybe Nicole is trying to engage her in some activity that she’s not interested in, and rather than protest, she’s trying to be on her best behavior, so she’s just sort of disengaging and acting sad/pouty? I don’t get that one at all.

So, after I read and re-read her email a few times (and calmed down), I think that if these things were symptomatic of Catie’s behavior all the time, then it absolutely would be cause for concern, so I understand why she brought it to my attention. But I think – and after talking with Catie’s pediatrician about it today, I’m even more certain – that it’s less likely a sensory disorder, and more likely a major case of anxiety. Which I’ve long suspected. And lord knows it runs in her family, on both sides.

The problem is, I don’t know how much you can do for anxiety in toddlers. It’s not like they make pediatric Xanax, and she’s too young to talk to a therapist about her feelings. So I think we just have to keep doing what we’re doing, which is:
1. Reassure her constantly, and
2. Praise her like crazy when she tries something outside of her comfort zone.

stylin' girl

Personally, I think she’s going to be fine. I mean, girls with that kind of fashion sense can’t possibly go wrong.