I've been struggling the past few days after Bowie's 4-year wellcheck appointment. He hasn't gone to the doctor much. I'd say 4 times. We've been blessed with good health and we have a lifestyle that allows us to let colds, ringworm, and ear infections (he had one a couple of years ago) run their course with minimal intervention. But I hoped that going to the doctor at regular times of wellbeing would be a good way to build up feelings of safety in the event that we do ever need a doctor's help. Fear based thinking...should have known.
Well, we talked about it as the day approached. Bowie pretended to be the doctor, looking in my ears and mouth with his flashlight. We got up and had breakfast kolaches (one of his favorites) and all went together to the office, sat in the lobby and looked at magazines. No problem. But when his name was called, Bowie went to hide behind Chris and covered his face. Oh my, I don't know if I can write this all out because it makes me too sad to spell out every sign that Chris and I ignored. But I am trying to go beyond that place of guilt and get to the growth...
Well, he flipped out. He eventually calmed down enough to speak to the doctor for a bit. The exam was a sham. He wouldn't participate at all. As we walked out of the office, Chris and I just said, "We should have just left." We should have listened to him. Why didn't we? Chris and I are both "yes" people. And I take a long time to absorb and respond. So we failed Bowie there. He told us so clearly that he didn't want to be there, yet we stayed. We achieved exactly the opposite of what we hoped for but most disappointingly, we did not keep the strength of our family relationship as our guide.
I've spent three days working through this. Trying to get past the guilt and using this experience to know that I will not ever fail Bowie in that way again. I will listen and know that his trust is worth more than the $65 fee, more than the opinion of the doctor, more than hearing a stranger say that my son is healthy when I know full well that he just perfect.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Oh, there are so many fun photos from Medieval Times. You may have seen it driving through Dallas on I-35. Didn't ever look like much to me. But as Bowie began to develop his interests in knights and weapons, I saw it differently. Magically. Bowie said, "There is a castle in the CITY!" His sweet grandma chose to make her grandson happy for her birthday...and we all had a weirdly wonderful time. Much people watching, beer drinking, shouting and shushing (Chris loved to shout "BOO!!!!!" at the other knights, especially the red knight who I found especially charming), eating with hands (no forks or spoons), flag waving, giggling...
My mother-in-law's favorite moment was when they announced the birthdays, "Sean is 8 years old. Alma is celebrating an undisclosed birthday. And Karen is 62 years old!" When my hubbie set up the birthday greeting he showed that he doesn't really understand some things about women...we whooped and hollered! And again I announce it here, heee heeee. Hey, age is something to be proud of, right?!
The costume...I bought it after Halloween at 75% off from Garnet Hill. Isn't it amazing? I kept it a secret until the right time, and this was most definitely the right place and time. The cape was a favorite gift from Grandma Karen. Everyone was watching Bowie as he walked into the hall. The other kids pointed him out, people smiled and stopped to talk to him. I was expecting him to want to get out of it, but 3 hours into it he was still dressed top to bottom.
Something I love about the way I've changed my life in the past couple of years is that I can see joy and beauty in a place that I previously would have wanted to avoid. I can see it for the amazing spectacle that Bowie sees, and that is so good. This has affected my life in a very profound way, opening my life up to happiness in almost any circumstance. This was an easy one!
Monday, April 14, 2008
Oh what a fun fun weekend with the Grandfolks in Dallas. We were treated to dinner at Medieval Times
I will fill in the details and share more of the heartmelting adorable photos of Bowie all decked out in his finery soon. But this wench is tired from a day's toil and off to slumber I must.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
This water boy...he was born into the water. And then we took him to the local municipal pool when he was 5 weeks old. He seemed to love it from the start, enjoying the weightlessness that must have recalled the womb (though surely those last few weeks in there he didn't have room for any floating seeing as he seemed to be wedged in there pretty well). We dreamed of being one of those water baby families, submerged and swimming newborns. He sputtered and didn't seem to mind too much, but it certainty wasn't instantaneous mastery or comfort. We enrolled in a YMCA class when he turned one and he happily splashed along with the little songs and blew bubbles. But a year later, he wanted nothing to do with the class. All he wanted to do was jump from the edge into his Papa's arms...so that is what they did, the instructor trying to reengage them but they had their own agenda.
The last month of swimming before the cold weather came last October Bowie was beginning to swim. He had spent the whole summer saying that he'd rather be in the wading pools, choosing to float and submerge himself in the 3 feet deep waters while I pined for the cool deeper waters. I saw children forced into the water, crying and trying to climb up their parents and knew that I had to wait for Bowie to be ready, even as I felt like those shallow waters were simmering around me. I could see how much confidence and comfort he had in those waters, wearing goggles and reaching down with his face under water to retrieve diving toys. He would hold his breath and float. All on his own. No lessons or guidance from me.
And then we discovered the amazing outdoor pool at one of the suburban YMCA's. As soon as he saw the water slide, he was more than willing to go deep. The life guards allowed us to wait down at the end of it to catch him. Initially, Chris stood right there catching him up nearly immediately. I suggested he pause a second or two. We continued to gradually increase the time he was in the water before scooping him up. We went again the next day. I stepped a few steps back. And I saw that he could kick himself up to the surface. So I paused and stepped back, and he would get his head above water on his own. And then in ever so tiny increments, I'd extend the time before pulling him to me, both of us laughing and smiling, him shouting and coughing out, "Again!" Within that week he was swimming up to me and then to the ladder. I was always in arms reach, always reached out if I saw his hand searching for mine.
And when we moved into our house in the fall, we swam here in our very cold pool for about 2 weeks before things got frigid, even for a little boy that loves to swim. He must have leapt into the deep end and swam to me then over to the step at least 200 times. I remember seeing how hard it was for him, how he'd sputter and spit and gasp, yet it was so joyful for him. I really connected this to unschooling. I was seeing how none of it was scary, none of it needed to be coerced out of him, none of it was even encouraged and all of it was his own desire and my willingness to observe and support him.
Twice Bowie fell into the pool between swim seasons. The first time I was right beside him and pulled him out right away. The second time I was gardening and he was on the other side of the pool, watching the pool vacuum. He leaned too far over and went in head first. It only took a moment to get over to him, but he was treading water, his face above water catching his breath. He cried about his gardening boots that had slipped off and were on the bottom of the pool. I stayed calm and we talked about how he had been able to keep his head up, how he had been close enough to grab the edge, what he could do if he fell in again. It was is favorite story to share for days.
Late in the winter we stayed at a hotel with a pool thinking how much fun Bowie would have. Well, he was wary of the deep end again. Chris kept trying to lure him, playfully, but Bowie wouldn't bite. I reminded Chris that it might take him awhile to build up his comfort again. We couldn't assume that he's in the same place he was a few months ago. Our first few swims at home this spring, Bowie clung to us. He held on with his hands and feet.
I held him and reassured him that I wouldn't let go until he told me he was ready. I told him that he should only be in the water when and where he feels safe. He started to enjoy the steps and floating on rafts. He fell off a raft twice one afternoon, again able to keep his head above water and this time grabbed the raft to steady himself while Chris got to him. Chris smiled at him, reacting in a joyful, calm way.
And then we got a noodle at the pool supply store on Saturday. He immediately seemed to feel so confident with it. He jumped into the water, would get completely submerged and then, in his own words, "Pop up to the surface!" I had read and heard that noodles weren't too hindering to the process of learning to swim, unlike arm bands and life jackets ( we never used any of those items..if he had wanted to I guess we would have tried them but I never wanted to impart that he needed them to be safe). And I could see why the noodle was recommended. It didn't hold his full weight. He held it under his arms and his body would float in a horizontal fashion, rather that the vertical flotation of other swim devices. He loved it and felt totally safe with it and swam across the pool with his noodle tucked under his arms.
The past 2 evenings he put his snorkel on and swam over the steps to the shallow end, noodle free. Tonight, after swimming with the noodle all day, he spent the last hour swimming all over the shallow end with his snorkel and mask. Initially he sort of jerked himself around, legs dangling down. But he seemed to understand that if he raised his legs up behind him that he'd make more forward movement, and by bedtime he was really looking like a swimmer. Chris and I grinned ear to ear, cheered him on, swam near him but he was adamant that he did NOT want to be touched while he was swimming.
I am so thankful to him for constantly giving me the lesson of trust. There can be a lot of fear associated with water, for parents perhaps more so than children. But over and over again, he shows me that I can trust him, that I can trust the world to unfold and for us to grow and learn as we live in it.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Two days ago Bowie said he wanted to get his hair cut, to get it out of his eyes. I told him we could go where I go, Birds. I couldn't bear the idea of going to a place and them cutting it so short again, and I knew that the stylists there would understand what we wanted. And they did. Vanessa is a mama of a boy herself and she was great with him as he sat through his second haircut. He made silly faces at himself in the mirror and tried to stay still though forgetting occasionally. Afterwards he "played" on their awesome circa 80s arcade game...donky kong, galaga, and pac man. On our way to the car, he held my hand and happily chirped, "Everytime my hair gets long in my eyes I will come to this hair cutting place and cut it."
When I posted the first picture on flickr, I got an enormous amount of interest in his adorable shirt (which yes I chose with exactly the image of him in front of the neon in my mind). It is made by ramonster, an Austin based clothing designer. We can't leave the house without people asking us about it. It's size 2T and I am still saying it fits...