Sunday, October 04, 2009

Driving under the influence

I had two bad Sundays in a row. Days when I had to talk myself out of crying. Days when I gripped the steering wheel and forced myself to think of all the good and positive things that we have going for us. On both of these days we went for long bike rides and that helped. I see Oliver holding his body straight as his strong legs pump and the bike sways from side to side beneath him. I watch as he languidly coasts on straightaways, steering his bike so precisely this way and that. I see him aware of and reacting to all the potential dangers in his environment. And I see the look of joy and competence on his face. He is capable, more so than I dared to hope a few short years ago.

But on each of these Sundays I also have had to witness Oliver struggle with even the simplest of social interactions. I see him unable to stay sitting through the circle-time song in the Sunday School classroom where I have brought the two boys and then crying out for the box of Legos that he has spied on the shelf. I see the other kids looking at Oliver as he vocally comforts himself, also seeing when I have to leave the room with him. I see them appraising him and thinking to themselves: there is something wrong with that boy. Later, during the closing prayer -- after hours and hours of elapsed time which only read as 30 minutes on the clock -- as I stand close to Oliver, quietly urging him to stay with the others, the girl next to him refuses to hold his hand. "That's OK," I tell her, "I'll hold his hand." And it is OK, I remind myself, he will learn and she will learn. And I have to believe it to be true because as I say goodbye to the Sunday school teacher and her husband I tell them: "See you next week!" in what I hope is a cheery tone. And she must believe me because she hands me a piece of paper with her phone number written on it and says "Call me. Let's talk about what we can do to make this a good experience for Oliver." I have my doubts. Lots and lots of doubt. But I will call her. And I will try.

And I grip the steering wheel all the way home.

11 comments:

  1. I'm thinking so much about this post that I wish I could call you. But mostly I want to say your doubts will be overcome. Sending you heaps of hugs and hope for happier Sundays.

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  2. Keep breathing in all the good and positive things you are seeing. And DO call that woman. She clearly *wants* to make it a safe and good place for Oliver or she wouldn't have reached out to you. Don't be the girl who won't hold *her* hand when she's offering it. Sending love.

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  3. well, you KNOW I relate to this!!! it was our experience so much, over and over and over.

    call her. yes. i'm with niksmom. and talk it out. share all the amazing information you have as his mom and an RDI consultant! i know you will. and oliver will get there. he will. i promise you that.

    our timetable was very slow. we had to keep bowing out and bowing out and i wondered when we'd ever get to stay in!!! but we are staying in more and more. it is happening.

    what about starting small? not staying the whole half hour? building up?

    just thoughts. i trust you and oliver's wisdom timing.

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  4. Some days we all have to grip the steering wheel a little tighter. I understand all too well how you feel. But Oliver is dong amazing. The bike riding is incredible. Don't let yourself lose sight of all that. He will get there in his own time.

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  5. It is *so* heartbreaking to see someone give your child *that look* ("Egads ... something's really wrong with him/her"). I've been there so many times. On the other hand, the progress he's made has been tremendous. And I agree about calling her(((HUGS)))

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  6. Sorry about the bad days, Christine. Keeping your chin up, trying to be cheery and then crying all the way home--I've been there. I'm so happy about all the progress Oliver has made (still so impressed with the bike riding!), and I know that being happy about such progress while feeling down about other things is so exhausting. Hope you have more of the good days soon!

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  7. Keep going, keep going, keep going!! Church was hard for us at first too, we got an aide, the kids looked at him, he makes noises... seriously I could have written your post. Now, the kids know him, they say hi to him, and include him as much as he wants to be included. They explain to the new kids why he is making noises, why he needs breaks. Wyatt begs to go to church now he LOVES Meri his aide, and he knows all the books of the Bible. lol
    It has taken a lot of time, we have really had to reach out to people and trust them. But it has changed our lives, and I am pretty sure we have changed a few ourselves. Call the teacher. I will never forget, in Bible Study the other day our minister announced that they were doing a kids club, she must have seen my expression because she didn't miss a beat and said, don't worry we have already thought about Wyatt, he is always included in our plans now.

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  8. I'm hoping that you really do call her since she reached out and so much of this is hard to do alone. Maybe between you, you can find a way to explain Oliver's challenges to the other children. And btw, it is no small thing how well he is doing in other areas. Love reading about him riding his bike! Hoping that this Sunday is a little brighter.

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  9. I'm reading "A Regular Guy" by Laura Shumaker and your post reminds me of her experiences with her eldest son. He also got the "looks" and she was treated to lectures on her parenting by random people in stores and parks.
    The Sunday School teacher sounds like she wants to help. She can make the experience better for Oliver and all the kids in his class. After all, Jesus' message of inclusion and love was for everybody.

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  10. Sending you some positive thoughts. The bike riding is a wonderful development!

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