Monday, October 11, 2004

Social studies

My son had an unusually social weekend, and it's left me with all kinds of mixed emotions. First, we found that a special-ed classmate lives just around the corner from us on the weekends he stays with his father (said the boy to me, "My mom and dad don't love each other anymore. They're divided.") and so he came over to play a few times. It was easy to see how far behind in terms of age-appropriate play skills my son is even from this fellow self-contained special-ed student, in ways both good (the boy was way too risky in his bicycle moves for my and my husband's comfort, especially since he wore no helmet) and bad (he could sink a basketball shot, and win at a PlayStation game, while my guy mostly just wanted to crash cars and kick the basketball). In the end, my son's friend was more happy playing with my daughter, and watching my son left out on the sidelines, complaining about how the boy was his friend, not hers, made my heart break. He's never really known how to play with other kids, but it's never really mattered to him; now that it does, I'm not sure how to make it happen. A lot of the problem involves motor skills that are coming along with therapy but nowhere near age-level; a lot of the problem involves emotional development that, given his FASD diagnosis, may not come along until he's in his 20s. Although it's a developmentally promising thing that he can now get his feelings hurt, it's hard as a loving mom not to think he was better off before.

On Sunday we attended a birthday party with a couple of special-ed classmates and a whole slew of little cousins of the birthday girl, and since there was more opportunity for independent-ish play -- swinging, sliding, running around -- he at least appeared to fit in. When he'd get overstimulated by the crush of kiddies, I'd take him out to the car for a little decompression time, and with that routine we made it through a few hours of party until I couldn't take it anymore. Again I felt like a freakishly overobservant mom -- watching kids play and fall and cry and climb to unsafe heights without a parental unit ever making an appearance, while my son couldn't so much as climb up a slide the wrong way or bang a swing against a shed without mommy making a comment -- but at least this time I had company. The mom of one of his classmates confessed that she, too, felt absurdly overprotective, and never let her daughter out of her sight, and marveled at parents who let their kids have so very much freedom. Just for good measure, we watched everybody else's kids, too.

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