The Space-Toddler Continuum

The Space-Toddler Continuum

Let’s get one thing straight: This post is not about science. I don’t do science. Tried it once; didn’t like it. So if you came here for science, please talk to my husband instead. That guy knows science.

If you came here for cute pictures of my kids, here you go:

Don’t be ashamed if that’s the only reason you’re here. They are pretty adorable.

But if you did, indeed, come here for a blog post, please keep reading. However, I feel obligated to warn you that this isn’t one of my funnier posts. I will post a funny one later to make up for it. Just for you. Kisses!

**Disclaimer: I am super proud of Joshua. Like, super proud. He does amazing things. He works harder than anyone I know. I know his delays are only temporary and that he will catch up. He has come a really long way in his short little life and I admire him for his tenacity. Even on days when he is giving me toddler ‘tude, I am reminded that it was this same stubborn personality that got him through the toughest days at the NICU.**

I put that disclaimer up because this post is, more or less, a big, long whine and I just want people to know that I know those things.  So – on to the show.

I wrote before that recently I had found myself starting to resent Josh for all of his issues. I knew (and know) that none of this was his fault, that it wasn’t anyone’s fault, but I was angry and I wanted someone to blame. So I picked my toddler. Classy. But, honestly, I don’t resent him anymore. Once I realized that was happening, I started to figure out why I was angry, why I was looking for something to blame, why our situation suddenly frustrated me when it’s nothing we haven’t dealt with for (almost) the last two years.

And as I’ve watched Jenna grow and change, I think I’ve solved the mystery: I am stuck. I am stuck in a time warp of sorts, where things and people and circumstances progress at a regular rate, all except for Joshua.

It’s kind of like taking a trip to Narnia. You guys know I love me some Narnia and look for pretty much any excuse to work it into this blog, but in this case it really, actually applies. In case you haven’t read the books/seen the movies/have done both and still think I’m reaching, let me explain: In the story, four kids travel to a magical land called Narnia by means of a closet in a stranger’s house. Yet another reason you shouldn’t go through strangers’ closets, but anyway… The kids stay in the magical land for years and years. They start out very young when they arrive and by the end of the book, they are adults. When they decide to go back home, they are surprised to realize that almost no time has passed at all in the real world. Maybe a few minutes at the most. They have become children again and no one is the wiser.

That is what I think of when I think of our lives with Josh. Daniel and Jenna and me, we’re all living in Narnia, living our lives and progressing at the “normal” pace. But Josh is still in the real world, and every time we go back to check on him, not much has changed.

If you have kids or nieces or nephews or ever saw a kid once at the mall, you’re probably familiar with the most common piece of parenting wisdom in the entire world: “Enjoy it; it goes by fast.” This makes mothers everywhere roll their eyes, even the ones who say it to others, because, really, is there any statement that’s more obvious?

But lately I find myself discovering that it doesn’t go by fast for everyone. With Josh, for instance, it hasn’t gone by fast. I mean, yes, the days and weeks have passed so quickly it’s hard to believe that he will be two soon. But looking at his development, where he is in therapy, well…it’s hard to believe he will be two soon.

Recently Josh was evaluated by a team of therapists and tested at about a 12-month level for development and skills. This was progress from his last eval, which was great news! But I think my frustration comes from the fact that it took him nearly two years to get to this level. Two years of hard work for him to still be behind. And that is just difficult to deal with a lot of the time. Because it doesn’t mean that in another month, he will test at a 13-month level. He just doesn’t follow a timeline like that.

Does that make any sense at all? I don’t want to sound like I’m disappointed in Josh or that he is doing something wrong. Neither of those things is true. But one of the perks of being a parent is the joy you get from your kids and the way they grow up. Joshua will be two in February. He doesn’t walk yet, he doesn’t really say much, and, honestly, I don’t get as much interaction out of him as I would a “typical” two-year-old. Do I enjoy him and love and cherish the interaction we do have? Absolutely. I freakin’ love that kid. But because of the way he progresses, it’s like he’s growing up at half the regular pace, and that gets hard sometimes.

For babies born prematurely, doctors and specialists and parents adjust their age for milestones and expectations. This means that since Josh was born a little over three months early, he isn’t expected to meet the milestones of his actual age, but those of the age he would be if he had been born on his due date. So right now he is 21 months and gets evaluated as an 18-month-old. However, that all stops when he turns two. In theory, preemies catch up by then and there is no longer any need to adjust their age. Obviously, Josh won’t be caught up, but they will still stop adjusting his age.

I have been looking forward to Josh’s second birthday ever since they told us that he would probably catch up by then, way back when he was still in the NICU. I didn’t wish my time away but I was excited about being able to give a simple answer for his age and to be able to pretend that he was just like every other kid. That won’t happen, and while that isn’t the end of the world, it still bums me out. His therapists say that when he turns three, he should be much closer to being caught up. So now I guess we wait for three. Unless it’s four. Or five. Or never.

Toddlers are supposed to toddle. They are supposed to run around and climb up things and push over the baby gates and flush things down the toilet. Those things are frustrating and I don’t think other parents have it easier, but I really want Josh to flush something down our toilet. Not because I relish the idea of either going after or missing whatever he flushes, but because it means he will have walked in there by himself. He will have figured out how the toilet works. He will have had the wherewithal to sneak around, find Daniel’s watch (I’m just assuming…), and use his planning skills for evil to create a mini-disaster. All things that he should be able to do right now. It’s weird to want that, but I do. I want him to yell “NO” at me and say “uh-oh” when he drops something. He has a few words but he rarely ever says Mama or Mommy. And I know he loves me, but I just wish he could tell me. He’s almost two. That is how it should be.

And please hear me – er, read me – when I say that Joshua “should” be doing something, I don’t think he’s doing anything wrong. I know he is really trying hard to learn and grow. I know that all kids develop at different rates and that Jenna could struggle just as much in spite of being born on time. I know that this will pass, and it won’t be our lives forever. I know that I will look back on this post and laugh about how dramatic I am and how much of a Debbie Downer I can be. But right now, I am here, stuck in some kind of space-time continuum where everything changes but it doesn’t change. And the more I see other kids his age or younger progress and then pass him up, the harder it is to keep up with our little time warp.

I almost didn’t write this post. I didn’t want to bum people out, I didn’t want people to think I am super depressed or upset, and I didn’t want to have to justify my feelings to anyone. But one of my greatest comforts since Joshua was born has been reading blogs or articles by people in the same situation and knowing that I’m not the worst mom in the world for feeling like this. So I am going to post it, and tell people about it, and hope that maybe it will help someone else who is dealing with this. Maybe not exactly this, but something close enough that you can relate and know you’re not the only one.

And since this was a bummer post, I’ll end with something hilarious: A joke!

– Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
– Interrupting cow!
Interrupting cow wh–
– MOOOOOOOOO.

Huh. I guess that one doesn’t really translate in print. Oh, well.

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4 thoughts on “The Space-Toddler Continuum

  1. Get out of my brain! With Sophia turning 4, I was excited to be out of the toddler years. Nope. In fact, she’s more toddler-ish now than ever. Doesn’t help that I went on facebook the other day, and a friend posted a pic of his kid (same age) zip-lining. Zip-lining!!! I was happy to just survive her wellness visit without her completely destroying the room (it was close). And yes, I know I’m 2 years behind on your posts, but give me a break–I just met you, like, 2 months ago. :)

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