Monday, March 25, 2002

March 25-29, 2002

MARCH 25, 2002

Stayed up (yawn) until all hours (yawn) watching the Oscars last night, and feeling a little nostalgic for my younger days -- pre-kids, pre-move to the East Coast -- when Oscar evening was such a big deal for me. Back when I could have a big party because the show didn't last until, well, all hours. Back when I could clear a whole evening to do nothing but watch TV. Back when I still went to the movies. I used to get a bunch of friends together every year, and we'd dress up to dress down the stars and their wardrobes. Ah, those were the days.

This year, I watched the first hour or so of the ceremony with my daughter, doing flashcards with her during the commercials and hitting the "mute" button during boring speeches and reading segments from her literature book. After she went off to sleep, I struggled hard not to do the same. I'd at least seen one movie that was up for an award -- "Kate & Leopold," up for Sting's best song -- but other than that, watching the little scenes that played with each nomination is about as close as I'll get to any of these flicks. And that's okay; normally, my kids are plenty entertaining enough to make me forget that I'm not getting my full ration of theater seats and popcorn. But on nights like last night, I can't help feeling nostalgic anyway. Or falling asleep, either.

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MARCH 26, 2002

My son's teacher made a point of telling me today, when I picked him up, that he is now standing up straight, with his head high, when he walks down the school hallways. This is in contrast to his former hall-walking posture, which was bent over, with his head down. That posture didn't bother me so much because I knew he was getting some sensory integration benefits from it. But it bothered the folks at school. It's bothered them for years. And so they have made a big project out of it, and now they're successful. People have been commenting, she said, as he walks by their classroom, how much better he's walking. Recognition from the community for improving one's behavior is good, surely, even if the improvement is otherwise pretty meaningless.

But that's just me. I would have thought there were more important goals to tackle with such consistency and enthusiasm, but maybe not. When his speech therapist talked proudly about how she kept making him go back to the classroom and do it again until he walked straight and tall for her, all I could think of was, "You're spending your speech therapy time on this?" But I try to keep in mind that I'm not there at the school, and I don't entirely understand what goes on there, and I have to trust educators who I believe are good at what they do and sincere in their desire to help my son. So he's standing up straight now. That's great. It's good for him, to be showing some self-control. It's good for the school, to have him not thumping through the hallways not quite looking where he's going. And it's good for me, because now I can imagine everybody's attention finally turning toward something else.

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MARCH 27, 2002

Any parent who's had plans ruined by a child's illness has to be at least a little heartwarmed by the news reports coming out about Will Smith's mysterious disappearance from the Oscar ceremonies Sunday night. He and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, were there at the start of the ceremony, when Whoopi Goldberg made a joke about them sitting next to Maggie Smith. But by the time his big moment came -- the category for which he was nominated, Best Actor -- Mr. Smith was nowhere to be found.

What happened? Was he in the bathroom? At the bar? Brawling backstage? As it turns out, security had informed the couple that their 1.5-year-old daughter had been taken to the hospital with a high fever and ear infection, and they had rushed off to be with her. Now, I like the idea of celebs being sufficiently wrapped up in their kids that they'd flee the entertainment industry's biggest night to be with their baby. But what I like even more is the image of Jada Pinkett rushing into the ER in that ball gown she was wearing. Surely they didn't stop to change? I've been caught on emergency runs in ratty sweatclothes I didn't expect anybody to see me in, but never formalwear. Will Smith may have lost the Oscar to Denzel Washington, but he was a lock for Best Dressed Dad at the hospital.

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MARCH 28, 2002

Another milestone for my son (this seems to be the season for them) -- as of his pediatrician visit yesterday, and at the ripe old age of 9, he is now, finally, for the first time, officially on the height and weight charts. He's been off the bottom of them for so long, following the curve but not getting any closer to it. But now, big boy that he is, he's at about the fifth percentile for height and the seventh percentile for weight. Woo-hoo! For a little guy with FAE who we thought would always be below the bottom, this is a red-letter day.

I always said that if he ever hit the charts, I'd have a party. Next month, in another milestone event, he's making his first Holy Communion, so maybe we'll make the party for that a dual spiritual/physical growth celebration. Proud accomplishments, both. But what I really want to know about his newfound size is: If he's now taller than five percent of 9-year-olds, and heavier than seven, does this mean I'll now be able to buy pants that fit him? Talk about dreams coming true.

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MARCH 29, 2002

As soon as the couple with the son who had been nearly drowned in the bathtub and the doctor-who's-not-that-kind-of-doctor in tow made it to an examining room on "ER" last night, I knew what was going on. "They were doing some sort of rebirthing exercise with the kid," I told my husband. And then, "And he's going to turn out to have been adopted from eastern Europe." And I could have added, knowing the way parenting storylines have been going on this show lately, "And they're going to do a gloss on RAD that's going to make the parents look like irresponsible twits." I was right on all three counts.

I've complained before about how black and white this show has gotten about medical issues involving children; didn't they used to be more interested in shades of gray? I know George Clooney's Dr. Ross used to get on his high horse with parents quite a lot, but it seems he got knocked off a time or two, too. But no more. The doctor is always right, and the parents are always ridiculous and irresponsible. And since the show is done from the doctors' point of view, I guess that's the way it should be -- I know I'm not the only parent of a child with special needs who's pretty sure the doctors feel they're always right, and I'm ridiculous and irresponsible.

But still, with the audience they have and the interest in telling good stories, couldn't they at least put a responsible argument in the parents' mouths before condeming them? Last night, when Peter Scolari as the dad (and right there, you lose any chance of dramatic gravitas) started twitting about how they adopted Victor in Prague and it was just taking him so darn long to bond and it was affecting their marriage and this therapist had a lot of success, I wanted to scream. Post-institutionalized children have real problems that real families struggle with every day; kids with attatchment disorders show far more severe and frightening and complex behavior than just not bonding fast enough for a parent's taste. And the lack of respect, support and recognition these families receive from more traditional medical professionals has got to be a contributing factor as to why practitioners of extreme therapies -- legitimate or no -- come to weild such power. Physicians, examine yourselves.

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