Tag Archives: Raising Children

Embracing Christmas

It’s no secret around here that I’m not a fan of a certain December holiday. I make no attempts to hide the fact that I really dislike Christmas. Somehow long ago I thought it was my duty to make sure everyone had a fantastic holiday and the aftermath just meant that I did not. Then, I had my normal pre-Christmas breakdown but I did something that I don’t usually do, I went over to my schedule at work and I took time off. Not because we had therapy, not for a doctor’s appointment or a school function, but just because I needed some time. Granted it was for the week after Christmas, but I took days off work for me. And it felt good.

Then it snowballed.

I found myself saying I couldn’t go to parties. Not because I had something else to do, but because I didn’t want to.

I found myself accepting the Christmas gifts we could afford and not stressing that it wasn’t enough. The kids have plenty.

I found myself not stressing when certain people didn’t provide ideas for gifts. These people will get what they get. And maybe without a gift receipt to return it.

I found myself making the kids chicken nuggets or sandwiches for dinner because Christmas baking or activities made us late for dinner.

I found myself baking less and accepting the fact that a batch of cookies turned out less than perfect.

I found myself not caring that the kids didn’t sit on Santa’s lap. Neither of them, they were both terrified.

I found myself actually living up to my so-called belief that things don’t have to be perfect.

And it felt good.

I didn’t scream “I HATE CHRISTMAS” this year. Not once. Although I did freak out a little and send my husband a text that read “I JUST WANT TO BAKE F%$&^% COOKIES”, but no one is perfect.

I’m completely prepared for the fact that once again my kids may be afraid of Christmas morning. Or maybe just Molly will. She’ll come around and when she does we will be opening our presents under the tree. Then I hope my family is prepared that I will be drinking wine out of a new wine sippy cup Santa will be leaving in my stocking. After all it’s Christmas and what kind of holiday would it be if there weren’t some day drinking involved.

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10 Things SPD has taught me

While I was pregnant I read a lot of books. Books about pregnancy, books about parenting, about sleeping, about feeding, etc etc etc. Then Molly came and I learned that I wasted a lot of time. Molly doesn’t fit into a mold and she definitely doesn’t care about what the latest experts have to say because she has her own game plan. Of course it would help if she could hand over her user manual, but she won’t, so until then I just watch and learn and hope I’m picking up the right lessons in life.

1. Cereal is appropriate for any meal or snack. Also, surprisingly, you can survive on said diet and have rock hard abs. I might make millions one day from marketing it as the newest diet fad.

2. Surround yourself with people and things that make you happy. Never in my life have I met someone that openly avoids things and people they dislike. I think how much better life would be if adults could have the same kind of freedom.

3. The world is a scary place and there is nothing wrong with carrying someone that needs your help or asking to be carried.

4. Headphones don’t need music attached. Sometimes they just block out the world. Maybe I should just buy ear muffs for her.

5.  Sleep is vital. I actually knew this one and am really happy my children agree and get a good 12 hours a night. I can be kind of bitchy and whiny without sleep.

6. Noises are awful, unless she is making it. Apparently loud banging or high pitched shrieking is okay if you make the noise. Anyone else is unacceptable.

7.Sunglasses inside aren’t just for hangovers

8. Pick your battles. This goes for the kids as well as adults or other parents. Sometimes it really is easier to say “Ok” even when you don’t agree and save your energy for the things that matter.

9. No matter what the weather is outside, clothing is optional inside. .

10. Rules are made to be followed. However, feel free to bend them as much as you can get away with. Never in my life have I met someone that can follow rules so closely but then manipulate her way into breaking them without actually breaking them. I need to learn a few lessons of manipulation from this girl. Case in point, we started a house rule about inappropriate touching. After discussing it Molly asked for a hug and then proudly announced that “My chin touched your boobies!”This girl is clever.

Dining with Charlie

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Last night I was having dinner with the kids. A meal I prepared myself, with nut free ingredients in our allergen free home. Charlie started to cough and cough and cough. Now it was the cough that sounded like something went down the wrong pipe and if that had been Molly coughing, I most likely would’ve told her to get something to drink but it was Charlie so instead I started to internally panic. I realized that most non-food allergy parents miss out on this psychosis, so I thought I would share my train of thought with you after I heard Charlie coughing for the next 5 minutes.

Why is he coughing?

Why is he still coughing

Oh God, did a factory cross contaminate?

Did I read the french fry label?

Did someone put their hand in the peanut bin and then touch the broccoli at the grocery store?

He is still coughing.

Wait, he has been coughing all day. Is he sick?

Does he need a drink?

Yes, get a drink.

Is his face red? Is it getting redder? Oh, right, he is coughing.

Has he developed a new allergy?

What did I put in the meatballs?

Is your lip swelling?

No.

Is that a hive?

Seriously, have his lips always been that puffy?

Phew, coughing stopped.

Breathe, breathe, breathe

Please don’t vomit. Please don’t vomit.

I should check for hives.

That was seriously 5 minutes. The rest of the evening was keeping one eye on him in case he started breaking out in hives or vomiting. The fun never ends here.

It gets better

When I was first pregnant with Molly and had horrible morning all day sickness, people would tell me just wait til your back hurts or your ankles swell. Then those things happened and I wished for pregnancy to be over and people would tell me to enjoy it while I can because my boobs were going to start hurting while I was breastfeeding and on and on. Then Molly came and was colicky and fussy and had difficulty eating and wouldn’t sleep. Ever. I wished for her to be older so it would be easier and I always got the same reply “It doesn’t get easier, just different”. At each stage where there were problems there was an older, wiser mom telling me it was only going to get worse. “Just wait” they would say. And I see it on Facebook now, a mom struggling with a stage their child is in and her status comment box is filled with “just wait” type of replies. I’ll have to admit, I’ve said those things, I’ve replied those things. I didn’t know any different.

Now I do.

I’m here to tell you it does get better. It’s not fair for us “veteran” moms to warn those coming up the road behind us how bad it’s going to be. That doesn’t make what they are going through any better, it just brings on impending doom. I would think “oh God, I can barely handle this, how am I going to handle it when it gets worse?”. Now, I see that look of desperation in my friends’ eyes. They are dealing with sleepless nights and 2 year olds and we say, “just wait til their 3”. What good does that do? We should warn our friends of things they can prepare for: hemorrhoids, sore nipples, constipation, running out of wipes in public when your child has a blow out, tricks so you aren’t losing the pacifier at 4am, or how best to soothe a cough. These are things they can prepare for. These are the things they should be warned about.

I was scared when I was warned that my crawling baby would become a walker. She did and she got faster, but along with her speed also brought independence. I liked independence.

I was worried when I was going to have to start table food because the kids would throw it every where. They did. It made a mess, but I also could eat a few bites of semi-warm food while they entertained themselves with how far a pea can fly across the room.

I was worried when my ever persistent 2 year old became a 3 year old. Really worried. I had a whole year to learn how to deal with temper tantrums and demanding tempers. Things became easier to deal with because with the extra year came extra patience and confidence. Or at least the ability to know that they will survive if I go into another room and leave them to scream by themselves.

So don’t worry new moms, whatever parenthood problem you are struggling with, that problem will get better. Sure new ones will come along, but that’s life and we can deal with life. Each day and month that goes by, you grow confidence and with confidence comes a much better way to deal with what you are going through. Those first nights of teething will seem horrible, but when the molars come in you will dose with ibuprofen and not even think about it. That first tantrum in the store you will sweat and turn red and be mad, but by the 15th and a year later you will walk out of that store with confidence smiling at people as you go by. Or you will walk out and cry in your car instead of the store. Either way, it gets better. And when you just want privacy in the bathroom, well… I can’t help you there, I only assume at some point that too will get better.

From now on, when your less experienced friend has woes and complaints about a trying stage in her child’s life, instead of filling her head of how it’s going to get 10,000 times worse, try lending an ear and taking her hand and putting a glass of wine in it. I’m sure she would much rather hear “I know what you are going through. Drink up” than “just you wait”.

A Week of Thanks

Every November I try to say what I’m thankful for on Facebook on each day of November. I’m not going to lie, we had a tough week this week but I still managed to start out being thankful for my kids today. In the grand scheme of things, they are pretty awesome, quirkiness and all. However, I feel like I had a lot of be thankful for this week and I feel like I should have started out giving thanks earlier than November first. So, I will share here what I was thankful for this week.

1. Yoga. On top of it’s breathing and relaxation techniques, I’m thankful for the flexibility and strength it has given me. Without out, I don’t think I would have been able to wrestle Molly into her car seat, twice, without all that extra bending ability and core stability.

2. Wine. This should go without saying, but I’m extra thankful for the nice people at Bota for putting it in box form. And making that box slightly classier than Franzia.

3. Radio. Nothing drowns out a child kicking and screaming than Top 40. To be honest, I don’t even know what I was listening to, I couldn’t hear it over the screaming.

4. Swedish Fish. I’m thankful to whichever neighbor gave us Swedish Fish in Charlie’s bag on Halloween. That way at every other house when he handed us a Snickers and said “open this” we could give him a fish and subdue him until the next house.

5. Sleep. I cut my coffee intake by half this week and although I feel much better physically and seem to have less brain fog, I can’t sleep. I’m thankful for it and hope it returns soon.

6. Preschool. Especially the aide in Molly’s class that peeled her out of the car kicking and screaming as if it was nothing and she was happy to see her. Let’s face it, we all know she was thinking “oh Jesus” or maybe not since it’s a Christian preschool but I’m sure whatever her thoughts were, they weren’t great. No one could be excited to have that child in that state being handed to them. I’m her mom and I would run the other direction.

So, there you have it. What I am thankful for this week. I wish I could be thankful for Stampy bringing home some food from his happy hour, especially a cheese plate, but I know that won’t happen.

When you don’t have food allergies

WHEN FOOD ALLERGIES EFFECT THE NON-ALLERGIC

When I started writing several months ago, I had little plans in mind. I knew I wanted to write about Molly and our struggles with her Sensory Processing Disorder because it takes up most of our energy every day. I wanted to include our journey with food allergies as well because they definitely play a roll in our family dynamic. Sometimes the food allergies are why I am going insane. I mean who wants to bake cupcakes every time you go to a birthday party?? What I didn’t expect is that people would read what I wrote and change their behaviors. Seriously, I am humbled. In the past 18 months our lives got turned upside down, but in the journey I have seen how our family has effected other people. I have witnessed a 4 year old hold off on taking peanut butter and jelly to his new school because he wanted to find out if any of his new friends were allergic. A 4 year old that put someone else first, that’s amazing to me. Moms have come to me and asked about taking snacks to public places and told me that they are now conscience of how their children eat on public spaces such as playgrounds. I’ve had educators reach out to me and ask about safe classroom snacks for special occasions or parties. I had no idea that Charlie and our family would raise that much awareness, I don’t think I could ever express how touched I am by people’s concern for Charlie and other children like him. I wanted to find an easy way to help those that don’t have food allergies and want be considerate of those that do. So I put together a list of what do when food allergies effect others.

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1. Ask the mom. If there is a child attending a party or in a class that has a food allergy, reach out to the parents. We are more than willing to help and answer any questions you may have. But don’t ask Stampy. He told a Charlie’s classroom parents that home baked goods are ok to serve. It will be years before I let him talk again to other parents. Other than Stampy, we can tell you what food could be avoided and food alternatives could be served.

2. Eat where you eat, not where you play. If you are at a public venue such as a playground, story time or a pool and you want to have a snack then sit and eat, clean up and return to play. Easiest way to avoid an accidental contamination.

3. Read labels. If a food contains an allergen it will be listed. This gets tough when allergens can come listed in many forms. A gluten allergy for example has to read for many types of grains and even “malt” so it does get complicated. Occasionally, food companies are nice and will list the allergen content separately. For cross contamination, I usually will pick up several packages from a similar manufacturer to see if it has a “may contain” allergen statement. If it does and your package doesn’t, you can be pretty certain that your food will not have cross contamination issues.

4. Save the packages for the parent. Honestly, I do not have all labels memorized. I barely have my name memorized most days. I read labels every time I go to the store to make sure ingredients or manufacturing methods haven’t changed so I wouldn’t even trust my memory if it worked.

5. Use clean surfaces, dishes and utensils when preparing food and keep prepared food separate. This may sound like a no-brainer, but not everyone wipes down their counter tops 24-7. I know I don’t. But I have a nut-free kitchen. If I had to cook for a milk or wheat allergic child, I would need to scrub my counter tops down first.

6. Be understanding. When a parent of a food allergy child still wants to provide their own food even when you’ve taken the allergy into consideration, don’t be offended. It’s not that we don’t trust you, but we don’t. There’s a lot at stake with one simple mistake and it’s a mistake even we can make.

As a parent we are always trying to protect our children and it’s nice to know that I have friends helping to protect mine.

The Lake and The Water Tower

I hate the lake and the water tower. Especially today, after a rough evening home with the kids, I remember why I hate them. The lake and the water tower are 2 things that we pass on the way to OT and these 2 things can make or break our day.

The first time we went to our OT’s office, I had to map to find out where it was. Now, mind you it is a block away from where I worked for 5 years, but I still had to navigate my way there. Of course we went the shortest mileage, but longest time-wise way. It took 3 trips for me to realize there was a faster way. That’s right, 3. 3 trips to realize I was going the wrong way. I obviously need help. In those 3 trips Molly fell in love with a reservoir (the lake) and a water tower that we passed along the way. I suppose in her mind they are significant, but so is a tiny piece of string she finds on the carpet so I try not to actually comprehend her object’s importance. Trip #4 my brain returned and we took the faster, 1/2 mile longer way to therapy and it was a big mistake. HUGE. Molly realized that she hadn’t seen her beloved lake and we were going a different direction and the tears started. Not just any old tears. Full. Blown. Sobbing. She sobbed for 10 minutes then refused to cooperate with her therapist and she persevered about the water tower and the lake. For an hour. A week later for our next appointment she reminded me to go the right way. Now I always go the longer way to OT now and point out like a stark raving lunatic when we see each because God forbid she misses them because she’s distracted by something else.

These 2 things symbolize pretty much everything during our days. The inability to cope with the different and our need to over stress to keep her balanced. Every Monday I have a struggle as we drive our 20 minute drive whether I should point them out or just see what happens. Usually “seeing what happens” means “keeping your cool while your child screams” and a lot of days I just can’t bring myself to do it. After working all morning and having the kids by myself until bedtime, I just can’t add extra stress. Today, I forgot. I actually forgot about them. We were listening to music and I had 50 things running through my mind and I missed the lake. Aaahhhhh…… she didn’t notice! Oh, wait, she did. 2 minutes later she realized that we were passed it and she didn’t see it. The next 10 minutes she bawled. She missed the water tower because she was crying. She cried more. I wondered if I had wine in my purse. I did not.

You can bet on the way home I became that over zealous mom, “LOOK!!! THERE’S THE WATER TOWER!!!!! ARE YOU LOOKING??? LOOK AT THE WATER TOWER!” If I wasn’t seat belted in I probably would’ve done more gesturing and jumping.

And if it’s not a lake, it’s waving to people as they drive away. Or sitting in the exact same spot on the couch. Or brushing teeth before going to the bathroom. Or waiting at the top of the stairs for me to say “good morning” or one of her 10,000 other external rituals that keep her grounded, I have to know them all or face the consequences. I should probably start writing them down. Although chances are, I would never find time to read the list anyway. Instead I’ll just keep dealing with each tantrum and routine as they come in hopes that one day they just might phase out and I can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Until that day, I will just have to invest in my wine purse.

I am important

I have enjoyed over the past week reading why a bunch of moms can’t find the time to work out or don’t have wash board abs, toned muscles and gorgeous hair. It’s taken me awhile to get to my excuses posted because I have a gazillion reasons why I don’t look like a super-fit mom, but I’ll keep to the short list.

  • I gained 60 lbs with my first pregnancy, 45 with the second
  • Nursing did not lose the baby weight
  • I work full time
  • I balance my work schedule with Molly’s OT and Counseling sessions
  • Charlie had surgery at the age of 1
  • Charlie has been in the ER 4 times for falling off furniture, a blocked urethra, and 2 allergic reactions
  • We have “homework” for both therapies and for Pre-K
  • We have to eat, so I have to make it and shop for it
  • I LOVE to sleep
  • I LOVE to eat cake, ice cream, cookies, pie…
  • I’d rather sit on the couch and eat at the end of the day
  • I want to relax and drink coffee in the morning
  • I have to manage shopping, cooking and planning for Charlie’s allergies

This list could go on and on. Here’s the deal, DESPITE all of these excuses, I eventually lost the baby weight and even just ran 7.3 miles for a race. Because that’s all they are. They are excuses, not reasons. It’s about priorities and I have to make myself a priority. It took almost 18 months after Charlie was born to lose all the weight and I still don’t have wash board abs. Why? Because I don’t need them to be a good mom, but I do need the physical activity to make me a better mom. I can hold Crow in yoga, but my arms aren’t perfectly sculpted. I’m pretty sure at some point someone replaced my armpits with that of a 300 pound person. It’s not about what I look like though it’s because I function better with the physical outlet. It’s just how I relieve stress. I also find that it’s more excusable to wear yoga pants everywhere if at some point I have worn them for yoga. And I do wear them everywhere.

I spend the day making sure everyone’s needs are met. From my family to work, I am constantly answering the complaints of others and making them better. I would count on Stampy to make me feel important but this is the same guy who took costume jewelry out of his pocket and said “I got you something” to propose. Seriously. So, I make the choice to say “I am important”. I make the choice to take care of myself and occasionally put my needs first. I take care of myself so I can take care of others effectively. And if nothing else, it gives me an hour to myself. When I can’t even take a shower or pee by myself at least I can get on the road and run by myself. And as much as I can (and will) complain about Stampy, he gives me the opportunity to better myself week after week.

That being said, maybe yoga and running isn’t your thing. Maybe physical activity isn’t your thing at all. What the activity is isn’t important, what is important that you do what makes you happy. That you give yourself some time to be healthy and to praise yourself (Look what I can do!). Make yourself a priority, take time to take part in your hobbies, just get a breath of fresh air with some friends that doesn’t include a playground. I think if we can put ourselves first once in awhile, we can find happiness and the ever important message that “I am important”.

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It also helps to surround yourself with people who love what you do…. whether we are running, doing yoga or drinking wine we always have a great time.

Bedtime or Bust

I’m sure every family has a time of day that just seems to cause stress. Maybe it’s the breakfast and out the door to school/work rush, maybe it’s the afternoon when a toddler has stopped napping but still needs one, or maybe you are like our family and it’s the time between dinner and bedtime.

From 6-7 pm every night I’m pretty sure someone has taken my children and replaced them with caged monkeys that look like my children. They are wound up, their listening ears have long since shut off and I seriously find myself wondering how I haven’t downed an entire bottle of pinot in this hour. 

I get it. Other than school in the mornings, the kids don’t really leave our house. So from 12-7 they have the same toys either inside or outside to play with and see the same faces. I get a little stir crazy too and I have stuff I should be doing. It’s also the time where we don’t really have enough time to get involved with anything (especially anything that makes a mess) but they are bored and dying for stimulation. Only, I’m at my witching hour too. I’ve been at work all day and have come home to make dinner and am brain dead or I’ve already been entertaining them all day long and am fresh out of ideas. And fresh out of patience. 

I try to keep it to a simplified routine, but Charlie somehow thinks that alligator wrestling pajamas on him is part of his routine and Molly thinks draining our entire city of water by playing in the sink for 10 minutes is part of her routine. Just once I would love to brush everyone’s teeth without someone biting down on the toothbrush or sealing their lips like they’ve been super glued. And I’m not sure exactly but I’m pretty sure that there is a game of “hide the lovey” that the kids have created in order to extend bedtime by another 10 minutes as we search high and low for someone’s favorite stuffed animal. I think Charlie’s beige puppy dog shoved into my Ugg boot wins the prize of the longest search. Tonight like a crazed maniac I forced the kids on a death march to search for said puppy dog then realized that a 4 and 2 year old are probably the worst searchers ever. I don’t know what I was thinking, these kids can’t find me hiding under the dining room table while we play hide and seek, how are the going to find a stuffed dog the size of my hand? (and why can’t their favorite stuffed animal be those ginormous ones you win at carnivals???)

We finally make it to the bedrooms only to not be able to agree on 1 story to read, so we read 2. Or 3. Or I put my foot down at 4. Technically I could do it earlier but I hope if I give them lots of attention before leaving they will be less inclined to exit their rooms looking for more. I’m usually wrong. With Molly, she was content with us kissing her goodnight and leaving, we had that part in the bag. We were home free once that door shut. Then Charlie decided that he wanted to sleep in a double bed and needs us to lay down with him, lest he cry like we have broken his heart. So we lay with him for a couple minutes. BIG MISTAKE. That leads to Molly wanting to cuddle and why not? We cuddle with Charlie, it’s only fair. Bust, we let that good thing fly out the window and added an extra 10 minutes to bedtime. When we finally do get to evacuate, we are only at a 50/50 chance that Molly won’t wander from her room and whine for me at the top of the steps to tell me that one last pressing item before going to bed.

An hour later, everyone is maybe asleep and I flop on the couch only to realize that it’s only 7:30 and the night is still young for this mama in need of doing dishes and cleaning up and all that other fun household work that doesn’t get done while I’m at work. But what I really want is some cake and a glass of wine so I compromise and drink while I fold laundry then eat cake. Which reminds me, I’m out of cake.

So, what is your stressful time of day? Are you a morning, afternoon, or like us, a bedtime monkey show?

Teacher Susie

When Molly was 9 months I expressed some concern to our pediatrician that she didn’t respond to us when we talked to her. She seemed lost in her own world a lot. He asked if she responded to sounds, I said yes, he said he wasn’t concerned.

When Molly was 18 months I expressed concern that she seemed to be bothered by things such as her hair being too long, her sleeves being pushed up or wearing clothes. The pediatrician said she was starting to express her individuality.

When Molly was 2 1/2 and again at 3 I expressed concern that she was having a lot of behavioral issues, more than I deemed “normal”. I was told by our pediatrician that she was bored and not to worry, she wasn’t autistic.

We are no longer with this group of pediatricians.

In the fall that Molly started 2 year old preschool I was at my wits end. She was almost 2 1/2 and having tantrums at every little event. I read parenting books, articles and blogs. I read anything I could get my hands on and talked to other parents for advice, but nothing worked. I was failing as a parent, I was failing my child and I felt like I was failing my family. Depression doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt.

“Give you child choices, so they feel empowered” I would read. I would give Molly choices and she would pick something else, like ice cream for breakfast and then throw a 30 minute fit because I wouldn’t give it to her.

“Ignore the tantrum, it will go away”. After 45 minutes it gets easier to ignore because you start to become numb to the the screaming, but after about the 4th one in a day your nerves are shot and you end up giving them some attention during the tantrum. Now, I have failed, she has broken me.

“Don’t overuse negatives like No, Don’t, Stop, etc”. Even though we still try to do this, I can only say “we sit on the couch” so many times before I go insane.

Enter Teacher Susie.

Teacher Susie came to us through the Parents As Teachers Program in our local school district. (I highly recommend this program if it’s available in your school district). She would come week after week with her tote of fun stuff and play with the kids. I would discuss our behavioral issues and she would supply real life solutions, then she would see them fail and say “hmmm, we’ll find an answer”.

Oh, how our family loved her totes though. The kids would be diving into them before she even took her shoes off and for an hour everyone was happy. There were new toys, challenging toys, sensory toys, fun crafts, those totes were awesome. Then there were Teacher Susie’s folders and in those folders were my goodies. There was information on development, on behavior, and new solutions to our problems. Finally, our concerns were falling on open ears. Teacher Susie worked with us for almost a year and then came the day that she witnessed Molly in full Molly form and me on the verge of a nervous breakdown and it was finally said “I think you need professional help”.

I blinked away tears and said “yes, that’s why you are here”

Teacher Susie: “I think it’s time our behavioral counselor came to talk to you. I can only do so much and you guys need the help”

I honestly just sat there and cried. I left to go back to work and cried some more. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach but I knew she was right.

A week later Marie showed up. I had taken notes over the weekend (Molly made it quite easy) so I could have everything I wanted to say easily at my finger tips. Then she had Stampy and I fill out a questionnaire about Molly’s behavior. Apparently we filled it out pretty quickly and without much discussion with is rare.

When Marie returned with our results, she had met with Teacher Susie first who informed her that we would be relieved. Marie still showed up with a look on her face like she was going to tell us that someone died. “Normal” is considered a child’s age + or – 2 years, Molly came up with a behavioral and emotional development less than an 18 month old, she was 3 1/2. Not only that but scored in the 99th percentile and off the charts for most categories.

We weren’t insane and we weren’t failures, we had a child that had difficulties and now to start therapy and find out why.

A year later we have lots of answers and lots of smiles and little mental breakdowns and we have Teacher Susie to thank for that. Without her, I don’t know where we’d stand today. She has since left the Parents as Teachers Program and often I want to email her or send her a card but how do you thank someone that gave you so much. How do you thank someone that finally listened and stood with you and helped? No card or email or gift seems to do justice what she did for us. I don’t know if there is ever a way to truly have her understand our gratitude. Teacher Susie gave us our family and she gave us our little girl back and for that I am eternally grateful.