Yo soy La Lay

adventures in family, faith, and Down syndrome


7:00 AM, Sunday morning

I wait.

Behind that blanket-draped gate, Tessa is babbling away, playing with some toys stolen from her sister.

I’m waiting for her to want to come to the other side.

This could take awhile.

Maybe a week ago, our physical therapist said that we were being a little too easy on Tessa.  She has encouraged us to seize the moments when she is most motivated, like when she wants to get out of bed or up into our arms.  Tessa knows that we will pick her up if she cries enough, so her motivation to develop her standing skills is kind of low.  She is a lightening fast crawler, so there is no strong urge to stand and walk and run.  After all, she can keep up with the other kids by crawling.  Yes, she is really that fast.

Yes, I do believe we will be here for awhile.

The fine line between being a kind parent and an enabler is ever-so-blurry sometimes.  At what point is she just not going to put in the effort?  At what point are we beyond a learning experience and into “well that’s just mean” territory?  And when do we just let it go in the name of our sanity?

And when we let it go, are we failing?

Special needs parenting is parenting on steroids.  These issues happen with all children, but the degree… the degree is different.

Motivation: the missing puzzle piece to solving my own impatience.  It’s a tricky one to find.

Especially when it is so hard to say no to this little face:

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On trusting one’s intuition

Sometimes, I’m really good at listening to my intuition as a parent.

And sometimes, there are moments like last night.

I should have heeded our sitter’s warning when I picked up the children.  I always love the moment when I arrive to get the girls after a long day of work.  All of the kids come wobbling toward me, a little bit like Children of the Corn, babbling some nonsense about their day, all at once, none of it the least bit coherent.  “They are wound up today!” she tells me.

I got this, I think to myself, with no concern over my impending night of single parenting.  Ellie had been asking us to order pizza all week.  I’d pop in a movie, call up Vita Bella, and put the girls in bed a little earlier than usual.  No problem.

In this moment, I made my first fatal mistake: when Ellie wouldn’t put her shoes on and I was anxious to get home, I told her that I had “secret, fun plans” for us.

Through a series of unfortunate events, mostly due to the fact that Ellie had given up on her burning desire to eat pizza and still wanted “secret, fun plans,” (which I didn’t actually have), we ended up at Red Robin.  I knew it was a bad idea.  Every little voice in my head screamed “No!  Not tonight!”  and I ignored them.

If you aren’t familiar with Red Robin, it’s a hamburger joint that has generally been a really family-friendly environment (read: it’s incredibly loud).  Recently, our Red Robin has gone through a little remodel… they now have three “unofficial” sections: the adult (bar) section, the section for Parents Who Have It Together, and the Frazzled Parents and Loud Parties section.  There is a glass wall that separates the latter two sections, most certainly so that the Parents Who Have It Together can enjoy the show on the other side of the wall.  I’ll let you guess where they sat us last night.

Frazzled Parents, unite!!

In the instant that we sat down, Tessa decided that she was starving.  We have entered a phase of life where she can’t well communicate her needs, so there is a lot of growling.  Yes, growling.  Loud and forceful growling.

Three seconds later, Ellie told me that she needed to go to the bathroom.  Now I, as a parent with great foresight, knew that Ellie loves to check out public bathrooms and not actually pee, so I made her go before we left the house.  So, when she asked, I calmly told her that she would have to wait until we got home, feeling confident that she had just emptied her bladder.

Even after three portions of dinner and several soft pretzel bites (which I later found stockpiled in her cheeks and the roof of her mouth), Tessa continued to be starving.  She had had enough of the crummy, unsupportive high chair.  Ellie’s crayons were dropping all over the floor.  There was a lot of ketchup everywhere.

Before I knew it, Ellie was standing on her chair, announcing to me (and what felt like everyone in a five-table radius) that she needed to go the potty right now or the poop was going to come out of her butt.

I really need to listen to my intuition more often.

Our rockin’ night wrapped up soon after we go home… a lot sooner than Ellie would normally go to bed, in fact.  Later, I dozed off on the couch, only to be awoken by chubby little fingers poking at my cheeks and nose.  Tessa had been sitting on my lap, drinking her last bottle of the night, and was looking for more.  She smiled up at me with those little crinkly eyes and for just a moment, the events of the Great Red Robin Fiasco were a distant memory.

I can’t wait for tonight’s round two adventure….