Do I have a weird kid? (Also, my first parent-teacher conference from the other side of the table)

I can already hear the smartasses out there saying, “Well, look at his parents.” Hyuck hyuck hyuck, y’all. Gee whiz, you’re so clever! *rolls eyes*

But really.

Surely I’m not the only parent who wonders if their kid is developing normally, even though I know all kids develop at their own pace and I know that “normal” is a pretty arbitrary word anyway.

But still, I worry.

It didn’t help that yesterday, when I went to pick Bucko up from school, his teacher’s supervisor asked to have a conference with her, his teacher, and me to discuss “things we could all be doing to help Bucko be more successful.” Um, okay. What provoked this was a particularly tearful day––I guess he cried most of the time he was there (3.5 hours or so). He wasn’t happy sitting in his high chair, so his teacher took him out and was feeding him baby food while he was sitting on her lap, which is apparently a Big No-No according to DoD* child care guidelines. He also is starting to get mad when other kids try to play near him. And, as usual, he wants to be held a LOT, which is not gonna happen because his classroom has a lot of little babies who need the one-on-one time more than he does.

*Department of Defense, for you civilians out there

So the conference was today, when I went to pick him up from school (today was a much better day, BTW). Essentially I was told that I need to make sure I’m feeding him in a high chair, facing him, because that is the only approved way of feeding a baby solid food in DoD-land. Which is how I generally feed him anyway. And I told the supervisor that, but I don’t think she believed me. And I’m supposed to “expose him to social situations.” I take him to swim lessons and music class and new mom groups and library storytime and daycare. How much more socialization could I do?

Honestly, she kinda acted like I was stupid. And she’d do this thing where she’d make eye contact with me except she’d raise her eyebrows and look up and to the left and flutter her eyelids every time she elongated a vowel sound, which was often, because she also talked r e a l l y s l o w l y:

“W e j u s t n e e d t o M A A A A A A K E S U U U U U U R E [flutter flutter flutter]

w e a r e g i v i n g h i m a l l t h e T O O O O O O O L S [flutter flutter]

h e n e e d s t o S U C C E E E E E E E D [flutter]”

Like that.

It was kinda weird.

His teacher didn’t say that much. I got the impression that she thought the ‘conference’ was bullshit. Of course she wouldn’t actually SAY that. But I got the distinct feeling that she isn’t all that enamored of her supervisor. Plus, she is not a native English speaker––Spanish is her primary language––so although she can communicate pretty well in English, you can tell she isn’t as articulate as she’d like to be when she’s not speaking her native language, and that it frustrates her. (Totally understandable.) But probably more importantly, her supervisor appears to frustrate her. (Again, totally understandable.)

Maybe it’s just first-time mom anxieties, but this added to my list of Things Bucko Does That Make Me Wonder If He’s Okay. (Or more accurately, Things That May Or May Not Be Things To Worry About.)

  • He doesn’t put things in his mouth (toys, Cheerios, teethers, etc.).
  • He likes to cross his first two fingers.
  • When he gets frustrated, he twists his hands back and forth like he’s unscrewing light bulbs.
  • He’s not that into food (except yogurt, which he would probably eat by the bucketful if we let him).
  • He’s not crawling or pulling up to stand.
  • He’s never been interested in rolling over.
  • He doesn’t like to have other kids around him.
  • He demands a LOT of one-on-one interaction.
  • He won’t sleep by himself. (I think we’ve got that one addressed, thank God.)

There’s probably more but I have trouble remembering all of my neuroses at whim.

I’d really like to not screw this kid up.

That’s all.

Mommy needs a break sometimes

It finally happened.

SEPARATION ANXIETY!

*cue scary music*

Ten months of generally being okay with Mommy going someplace else for a little while has come to a screeching halt. That idyllic time is over.

I know all babies go through separation anxiety at some point, and that it can last off and on for a few years. And I know it’s a good thing, because it means that Bucko has developed object permanence and a secure attachment. But ugh, it is not pretty.

Bucko goes to a great daycare center on post. I am very comfortable leaving him there for a few hours here and there while I get stuff done at home. He clearly enjoys being at “school” (which is what we call it): he loves his teachers, they love him, he enjoys playing with all the neat toys they have there, and he likes being around other babies.

Today, after he woke up from his morning nap, I told him that he was going to go to school today. He smiled really big and said, “Yay!” (“Yay” is his first word––he started saying it last week. Too cute.) He knows what “school” means. He knows the drill. So off we went to school, with Bucko in a cheerful mood. We got to school, went to his classroom, and I set him down to play with some toys while I put his bottles and diapers away. He was fine. I filled out his daily paper (where they track his diapers and what he eats and when he naps) and he was fine. Then I started to make my getaway. He usually doesn’t notice, or if he does notice, he usually doesn’t care.

But today . . . .

OH MY GOD YOU’D THINK I WAS LEAVING THE COUNTRY! Huge wails, arms outstretched toward me, big fat tears rolling down his big fat cheeks. It was heartbreaking. One of his teachers scooped him up so I could leave without feeling too awful, but he kept sobbing. All I wanted to do was run over and grab him and hug him tight, but I know that’s not going to help him get used to goodbyes, so I just left.

😦

On the drive home, I started piecing together other clues that separation anxiety was beginning to rear its tearful head. Bucko has been extra-clingy lately, something I had attributed to teething. He burst into tears the other day when we were at a new moms play group and I got up to go to the bathroom. He has started to fuss at home whenever I leave the room, even if I’m just grabbing a snack in the kitchen or running upstairs to find a clean outfit for him. He’s not content to be on the floor playing with his toys. He wants to be held. He’s been waking up seemingly scared several times each night, needing me to hold him and nurse him back to sleep.

No wonder I’ve been so worn out lately.

So now I’m wondering how long this phase will last. How long must I endure the cries and screams whenever I go to the bathroom or take a shower or drop him off at school? How long until I can be somewhat productive at home when he’s home, too? How long until I’m not so bone-tired anymore?

(Please, don’t answer that.)

Our tax dollars at work

Today we had some special visitors come over to play with Bucko for an hour…or at least, that’s how he viewed it.

They were actually here through our county’s Early Intervention Services, to assess him for possible developmental delays. Two reps from the county EI office, plus a pediatric physical therapist and a special education specialist. But again, all Bucko knew was that four really nice ladies just showed up to play with him.

Why?

Well, at his nine-month checkup last month, the pediatrician recommended getting him evaluated out of concern for his gross motor skills––he has just about no desire to roll over (he’s only rolled over a couple of times in his life), he’s not trying to crawl or scoot, and he’s not trying to pull up to stand.

So, Bucko was referred to our county’s Early Intervention program. Turns out every state has Early Intervention services that are funded through the state and federal governments: the initial assessments are provided free of charge, and if the child qualifies for services, those services are also fully covered. Yay taxes!

After his assessment today, our suspicions were confirmed.

Bucko is just a lazy baby. 😉

The consensus: he is within the normal ranges in all areas of development, although they said his social and communicative skills are VERY advanced…that made me a proud mama! The physical therapist showed me some exercises I can do with him to help strengthen his core, and unfortunately for Bucko, she also prescribed MORE TUMMY TIME. (Not his favorite thing in the world.) She was pleased that he’s been taking swim lessons––just like Cap’n Daddy and I figured, swimming is a great full-body exercise for him and it very well might help.

Such a relief! I didn’t think anything was really “wrong” but it’s nice to hear that your baby is doing just fine.

If you suspect potential delays in your own child, you can contact your local Early Intervention office to arrange for an assessment (look it up through your state’s EI program). You don’t even need a referral––anyone can request an assessment. It’s worth it just for the peace of mind!