Conquering the Slide

This past weekend, Catie and I went to the playground. We’ve been doing this a lot lately, since the weather has gotten nice. We have a neighborhood playground which is ok but a little small; there’s a much nicer public park with a bigger playground about a mile and a half from our house. Catie particularly likes the sand pit.

Catie at the playground
(I didn’t bring my good camera with me, just my iPhone.)

She also likes the play structures, but usually she just walks up the stairs, hops around at the top, then climbs back down. She’s always hated slides and swings. I honestly don’t know why, she’s just a cautious kid, and she doesn’t seem to like motion that she doesn’t feel 100% in control of. She doesn’t care for tricycles either. Honestly, yes, I find this behavior a little strange, but I also try not to spend much time worrying about it, because I think most of it is stuff that she’ll outgrow in her own time.

And it turns out that my instincts might be at least partially correct. Because out of the blue, she turned to me from the top of the play structure and said, “I go on the slide?” I was kind of stunned, and I repeated, “You want to go down the slide?” She said, “Yeah. You help me.”

So I held both of her hands, and she scooted herself down the slide. And then she did it again. And about 25 more times after that. I was stunned. I couldn’t take any pictures of her in action because I had to hold her hand to get her to go down the slide, but one of the times she was running back up the stairs of the play structure, I tweeted about it.

tweet_slide
(I’m a little more free with my language on Twitter. Which is funny, since my dad apparently reads my Twitter stream. But he’s never said anything to me about my profanity there, probably because he knows I’d tell him to stop reading it.)

I was so proud of her for breaking out of her comfort zone. I think she was pretty pleased with herself too.

Catie at the playground

After the playground, we celebrated by going out for Mexican food, just the two of us. Such a fun day.

And I know it’s probably a cliche, but there’s something about having a kid this age, she seems to do some new amazing thing that completely surprises me every day. I love that. And I cannot wait to see what this kid will do next to knock my socks off.

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.