My first post described how our little hurricane, Mason, came into our lives and introduced us to a whole slew of acronyms that we never dreamed we would need to understand. Well, his older sister E, our birth child, is a hurricane in her own right. She introduced us to another acronym, “Talented and Gifted”, or TAG. Their acronyms make for a challenging home environment, to say the least.
E’s gifts counter Mason’s disadvantages: language, memory and the ability to learn in general. I realize all children, especially when they are young, absorb information and their surroundings like a sponge, but E’s abilities have a different intensity. She attacks learning and truly needs intellectual challenge nearly every waking minute. Her loquacious, inquisitive nature foils Mason’s initial temperament, characterized by incessant crying and fussing, squirming, pushing. Every attempt to calm or soothe incurred pain rather than comfort. Whereas E enjoyed interaction, Mason either turned away or pushed his way out of our arms. While E seemingly came out of the womb “talking,” Mason’s early attempts at communication (besides crying) were finger pointing and grunts. Although I thoroughly enjoyed E’s enthusiasm, I sometimes told her, “Mommy’s ears are turned off right now, they need a break from listening.” I was worried about Mason’s inability to communicate his needs or desires. Oh sure, part of it was due to the fact he spent most of his time with two first-born girls who were quite happy to restate his intentions, thank you! After all …, we know what’s best for you.
Well, as you can guess, all of this ping-ponging between a five-year-old “adult” and a non-verbal two-year-old made for one exhausted, bewildered mom. I never imagined how mentally and physically draining it is to spend your days responding to the endless questions and observations of a smart kindergartner and trying to coerce any verbal response from a speech-delayed two-year-old. By the end of the day, I could barely put two words together to greet my spouse, let alone carry on a conversation.
Looking back on it, I can see that it’s gotten better. How? Lots of therapy, speech therapy in particular, but the occupational therapy improved Mason’s ability to tolerate speech therapy’s challenges. Once we found the right person, behavioral therapy helped Mason, but it also helped me. I have learned how ADHD feels to him. Another realization is that it’s worth it — every bone-tired day, the seemingly endless appointments at far-flung locations, countless phone calls and voluminous reading. It’s all worth it. Now, he tells me, “Too many words, mom.” (Thank you, Central Auditory Processing Disorder diagnosis and training!)
And, as for that other little hurricane? She’s a whirlwind of help — always ready with a quick way to remember information for a test, or when homework gets too overwhelming, she’s got simpler ways to solve a problem. They still play together, watch movies and just hang out and enjoy each other’s company. These moments make it all worth it. They are, as the popular commercial says, priceless.