Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Importance of Being Earnest

I think this title is also a book title? Maybe? I've heard it before for sure. Regardless, it is also the title of my entry. Why is being earnest important? One, sincerity smooths the way for those helping you. Two, being earnest makes someone want to help you. Three, being sincere helps someone you are helping appreciate your efforts instead of being embarrassed or feeling condescended to. Finally, being earnest in your efforts will actually put you closer to your goal because you are really trying.

How do I know all these things? I started back to work this week as a speech-language pathologist. I can tell from the moment we hit the therapy room who really wants to improve. Earnest children have a look about them. They really want to please. They try so hard. Usually there is a measure of success over a short period of time. There is also the hallmark of the breakthrough grin when something goes right.

Now believe me, I've been fooled by some pretty smart kids. However, the kids who don't care, don't try, so they don't make gains in their goals. Some kids are never going to make great gains, but if they try hard, they may make gains in other areas outside their specific goals.

Minute progress counts. I may not see a specific language impairment improve, but I may see a compensatory strategy emerge. I may not always see a stutter decrease, but I may see tics and fidgets and groping behaviors diminish. When I finally hear a /k/ sound or an /r/ sound from a child after weeks of trial and error together, I feel like the sun is shining right on us. When I see a severely impaired child discover a sign, take a turn with a class partner, share blocks, or bring me his favorite book in an effort to initiate a request, I feel like the mountains moved. I didn't move the mountains, that child did. I don't provide the cure, but I earnestly provide the path.

And that's why I do what I do.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's A Fireman!

So, my one year old (yes, no longer, the baby, but my one year old) received one of those Little People Fire Truck Coups for his birthday. You know, the Fred Flinstone kind that a kid drives with his feet instead of pedaling? The funny thing about this new toy is that he can't quite get the hang of it. Currently he is enamored of the siren button and open/closing the car door. He can't quite manage to go forward, but thinks bracing his feet on the ground and pushing backwards is worthy of a hearty baby chuckle. Every time he achieves backward movement, he looks up and grins for approval. I had the best time watching him "drive". He turns and turns and turns the steering wheel while I say vroom vroom over and over again. I think we were entertained for almost thirty minutes. I don't feel so bad about buying a big hunk of plastic now that we are having so much fun with it. A month from now he'll be careening down the hill at top speed, squealing at the top of his lungs, racing after big brother. So for now, I'm going to enjoy the inch by inch backward roll that is "driving" the fire truck.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Perfect Afternoon: Also Known as Mom's Mellow Midafternoon

I spent a glorious afternoon in the Hilton Head sun last week ALONE. Just me, the beach chair, the ocean waves, the sea gulls. Ted Koppel's book "Off Camera" was on my lap. A crumpled diet coke can and an empty bag of Chips Ahoy lay at my feet. There was a bottle of water on my left and a Bud heavy on my right. (Sigh) My husband was in the condo wrestling with two restless but very tired little boys. My in-laws were snoozing somewhere, by the pool I guess. I spent two lovely hours alone. Single. Solo. I did a little people watching. I read a couple of chapters. I drank my beer. I closed my eyes. I even sent up a prayer of thanks. Even now, writing about that afternoon sends me to a different place for a moment. I will draw on that moment of peace for a few more days until I have exhausted that memory's power to calm me. Perhaps I better be quick about finding another two hours of peace! Hope you find your own perfect afternoon--cheers!

The Bucket List

The Bucket List:
1. 5 dive sticks
2. 15 cars (We started with 5 and added 5 more each morning for 3 days)
3. 5 sand buckets
4. 7 shovels
5. 2 squishy water balls
6. a yellow John Deere backhoe
7. a green John Deere bulldozer
8. sand covered sun screen ("Is it the yellow, non burning kind mom?" It comes in a yellow container and it's for Kids. My son thinks "kids" means non-burning like the no more tears "kids" shampoo.)
9. a green soccer themed straw cup of water for big brother
10. a yellow straw cup with handles of water for little brother

The Bucket List provides about 2 hours worth of beach entertainment. Not bad. Every morning this bucket must be driven s-l-o-w-l-y out to the beach by its owner and carried up and down the steps by the owner and his mother (I am to carry only the front and ONLY at the stairs). Every afternoon the bucket and its contents must be washed out by my 4 year old, one item at a time. This cannot be hurried or rushed. Forget a water shortage or desire to conserve, this practice must be done to the letter or a hurricane of tears and shouts and stomps erupt.

I find this desire to "do it myself" and this unusual need for cleanliness of toys (but not personal body parts, his room, nor any other clean-up routine) refreshing. Hopefully these desires are a glimmer of personal responsibility in the distant future? Perhaps I'm projecting my own desire in there, but I'd like to think so.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Catch Up

Wow it's August 7th! Um, I'm not sure what happened to the "take time to blog every day" in July thought I had back in June. It's probably somewhere with the "stop yelling" resolution I made about 3 weeks ago. :-)
I haven't been blogging for several reasons. One, I discovered facebook and it's a time sucker! I'm reconnecting with so many people I used to know and so many new friends that I use up all my computer time. Two, I have two moving targets now who can't seem to play with each other without yelling, screaming, crying, pinching, or scratching. Actually the boys play very well together, it's just that Wyatt doesn't know how to do anything and when he attempts to "play" with Owen, Owen starts screaming "don't touch me! don't touch my stuff!" Ahh, the joys of three years difference. Third, I haven't had much to write about. I've been percolating some personal things in my mind that aren't share material, so that has left me rather dry in the writing department. Lastly, I sent off two or three emails with pictures to my friends instead of blogging about it. It happens. Too many mediums of information I suppose.
So, in order to rectify the situation, I am writing now.
Today I go to the two schools where I will be working at the beginning of the fall. I'm crossing my fingers that I'm ready for pediatrics again! It's been a while since I was at work. I start seeing kids on August 18th. Tuesday I had an inservice and a staff meeting with my new employer. I love the new team! It should be a great year. If I can just get the drop off and pick up coordinated with my kids. That's the biggest headache right now, finding a sitter. But it will happen if it's meant to be.
Today I go scope the premises and see what I need to bring with me. Luckily have two kids so I have an unlimited supply of bubbles, play dough, stickers, markers, cars, etc. I prefer not to use my own stuff, but in a pinch it will work if necessary. My company has great resources. Really amazing. I haven't seen this many closets of material since I left graduate school. Hooray.
Well, I need to go eat breakfast and find my paperwork.
Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to Speech we go.....