Every parent has certain buttons that their kids push quite easily. No matter how much we adore our kids, we don’t always love all the little annoying things they do. So, in the spirit of documentation, I give you “Things the Bean Does That Bug the Heck Out of Me!”
Pinching – The Bean doesn’t pinch in a mean way. She’s not upset or mad; it’s something she does when she’s cuddly or when she’s trying to get my attention…and I can’t stand it! She grabs tiny sections of skin in the most sensitive places and pinches, sometimes gently and persistently, and sometimes really hard. I’ve tried to just tolerate it and see if it stops on it’s own, but I just can’t. I tap her hand and say “no pinching”, I squeeze her hand, I pinch her back – all to no avail.
Throat punch – this is another one that she’s not doing with the purpose of hurting anyone, but it really sucks. It almost seems like an uncontrolled movement, except that her aim is exceptional. Sometimes she does it with the tips of her fingers; this is a self defense technique we learned in Taekwondo, and it’s very effective. Other times it’s a back fist to the throat when we’re lying down, or with the heel of her hand as she leans the full weight of her body on her hand trying to get up.
The Elbow Lean – This is almost as painful as the throat punch. The Bean tends to tends to lean on my chest with her elbows, once again putting her full weight into the experience. I’m surprised my chest isn’t black and blue.
Shrieking in the Car – I think every child goes through a stage where they’re learning how to regulate their volume, and for a time, loud seems to be the only option. Whether she’s happy or upset, the Bean can get shockingly loud in the car, and I’m trapped in my seat belt on the freeway yelling at her to stop yelling…oh the irony.
Temper Temper – Because of her speech delays, at 4-years-old the Bean often doesn’t have the words or the patience to tell me what she needs or wants. She does try sometimes, which can be frustrating for both of us because she’s saying a word out of context without much for consonants. When many of her words sound the same, it’s a guessing game, and as she gets older her wants and needs are becoming more complex. This is all par for the course.
The part that bugs me is when she doesn’t even try to communicate, just breaks down in tears or a tantrum for no obvious reason. I haven’t even had the chance to say no before she’s having a tantrum about it. Figuring out what she wants AND trying to teach her nicer ways to ask for what she wants become mutually exclusive tasks because the more upset she is, the less she can listen or talk to me. I’m learning to wait it out: to tell her that I can’t understand her when she’s crying/whining and when she’s ready to tell me what she wants, I will do my best to understand her. It sometimes takes a while.
Everything in the mouth – Most kids grow out of this phase when they’re three – at least I assume so because all those toys and games with small pieces are labelled 3+. The Bean, however, still explores a lot of things with her mouth: stones from the driveway, small pieces from toys, large pieces from toys, blocks, anything from her toy kitchen, the water and bubbles from her bath, finger paint, playdoh, as much dirt and sand as she can get away with before I freak out, and even her own poop from time to time.
Mamaaaaahhhh – I waited for what seemed like forever for the Bean to be able to say “Mama”. Now, it comes out of her mouth in rapid succession, often in a whiny tone, and for an extended period of time. In the car: “Mamaaaahh”; when I’m making dinner: “Mamaaaahh”; when I’m trying to have a conversation with a friend: “Mamaaaahh”; when my Sweetie is taking her off my hands for a few minutes, but I’m still around: “Mamaaaaah”. It’s annoying to even write it. I am thrilled to be “Mama”, but I don’t really want to be “Mamaaaaahhh”!
Now I totally get that these are things that all parents go through with their young kids. But parents of typical kids typically don’t deal with these for the duration of time that parents of special needs kids do. It’s pretty exhausting to still be dealing with a toddler at 4 years.
Even so, I’m super proud of how much the Bean has learned in the last year. At three-years-old, she was just beginning toddler-hood. Now she’s a mix between toddler and pre-schooler, and she learns and grows more every day. Her vocabulary is increasing, she is able to do more things on her own, she’s starting to play independently, and she’s got this great attitude about life in general.
I’m pretty sure that one day she won’t be beating me up on a regular basis. Not all special needs parents can say that. I’m also pretty sure that her vocabulary and speaking skills will improve, and one day I’ll be able to understand her a lot more clearly. I have confidence that eventually she will be potty trained and I won’t be racing to get her diaper changed before she manages to get the poop into her mouth.
So while I don’t think I’m going to be able to “enjoy EVERY moment” of these early years, as encouraged to by parents whose kids grew up too fast, I certainly have a lot to be grateful for now, and a lot to look forward to in the future.