Thursday, January 21, 2010

An Ordinary Day

We don't have too many of these--days where I feel productive, get things done as planned, and actually get to add in something "fun." After getting through my list of things to do this morning, I realized both of the older kids were diligently working on their schoolwork and might actually get through today's work. By the time we had to pick up Pollito, Two year old Milagro was also playing nicely by herself  and had asked to go to the park no less than half a dozen times:

"I go to park mom?"
"Mom, we go to park today?"
"Mom, get in car and go to park?"
"I take my ball to park today mom?"

What was melting my heart was that each time I said "not right now" or "I don't know" she would sweetly respond with "ok, mom" and go off to entertain herself. The last time she asked she said "Mom, you want to go play in the park with me?" How could I resist? Well, actually I could think of countless reasons why that wasn't a good idea for the rest of the crew but I really wanted to do this for her. It was a beautiful day with 70 degree weather and the sun was shining.

So after picking up Pollito and dropping off his classmate I got into a conversation with the mom and mentioned we might go to the park. She quickly asked if they could join us and I thought "why not?" This mom has been the only person in Pollito's class who I have "befriended" and I have ducked out on invites to her home a few times  mostly because of the reasons most of us avoid public places with unpredictable kids. We met at the park and the kids all did extremely well. She and I got a chance to talk and it turns out her 5 year old has sensory issues and she (the mom) spent a good part of her formative years in foster care. I had an absolutely wonderful time getting to talk with another adult and although Corazon worked pretty hard to get into our conversation a few times even she managed to relax and let us visit. I was really struck by how young developmentally Tortuga is. He spent the bulk of the time playing with Pollito and his classmate, plus his 4 year old brother. The 5 year olds taught him a game they made up and Tortuga couldn't have been happier!

As we were getting into the car he smiled and declared "Mom! I have two new friends!" I smiled back and once again marvelled at how much this kid has missed out on. I also realized just how little difference there had been between the boys' behaviors despite Tortuga being twice their ages (he will be 11 in a few months!) It's so hard to balance the gaps sometimes. He is emotionally/developmentally at their age yet academically he is closer to a 4th/5th grader and cognitively probably somewhere in between although he has many of the "experiences" and language of a "bigger" boy. He doesn't have any of the filters other kids would have to recognize that these were "little" boys and not peers. I had already checked him in the car several times when Pollito's friend gets in after school because I immediately have the three of them in the back of the van playing around like 5 year olds with no regard for safety or size or sense of appropriateness.

Anyway, I have to think more about how to help Tortuga bridge these gaps. We ended our evening by meeting up with my sister and going out to dinner at one of the kids' favorite restaurants. It was a nice end to what turned out to be a pretty ordinary day.


BT said...

It sounds like such a lovely outing that made everyone happy!

Know exactly what you mean when you describe Tortuga's happily playing with much younger children. Know. all. about. it. No idea how to help him and P "grow up" to same-age peers. For P, it seems to take a lot of playing with toys for toddlers and slightly older (he does not find these kinds of toys at all boring, though he also enjoys toys/projects for his own age (newly 10)). Also playing with the younger kids seems to be helping. He interacts with them appropriately (rather than trying to control everything or be the loudest so all attention is on him, etc. etc.), and just seems to relax into actual play. Veeeeeeerrrrrrryyyyyyy gradually, the age of kids he's successful with is increasing.

Lee said...

Let's hear it for ordinary! (smile) I see those gaps sometimes with Rob as well. Not to Tortuga's intensity but just experiences he missed out on so there are things that just do not come naturally to him, and he still very much enjoys "little kid" play.

Dia por Dia said...

BT & Lee,
Yep I agree. The hard part is that he can be "appropriate" (e.g. don't let little kids run into street, etc) when playing with them but then he feels and acts like one of them so if they say ("do-do head" was something the 4 year old called his brother) or do (such as pushing) something he joins right in and can't seem to recognize that they are smaller than him. But yes, progress...

J. said...

We have similar issues with Calvin, we have found that having him play with a friends son who is a few years older than him and is super patient helps out. It gives him a reference point for what play with other kids his age should be like and then we can cue him, remember when you play with R, this is the same kind of play. I think the biggest problem for Calvin is tht he is just intrested int he stuff other kids his age are into because he is still catching up to them but playing "boy"(running through the woods playing cops and robbers type stuff, nothing I want to do with him nor does R's sister) games one on one with R has helped him see what other kids his age do.

Hartley said...

My son Gabriel, although he will be 9 this year, comes across as "immature" even to my Kindergartener's friends (Gabe cries easily, argues, can't play cooperatively, or plays parallel instead, etc.). It is really hard. But, Gabe just isn't at the same level as his chronological peers. Let me know what ideas you come up with the help Tortugua, I might just steal them!


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