Jax: Challenges that make a mom feel like she sucks…

I need to talk about some challenges we’re facing with Jax. I don’t have any trouble at all talking about these issues, I’m almost embarrassed to admit I’ve had a lot of trouble coming to terms with having to do something about them.

Jax has always been a vivacious, happy go lucky kiddo. His energy is never ending and he has the enthusiasm to match. I talk a lot about the great results I’ve gotten from integrating techniques from Attachment Parenting theories, and about changes we’ve had to make or try in order to adjust some of Jax’s behaviors. But what I haven’t talked openly about is the challenges we’re facing with Jax. We re-enrolled Jax into his preschool in Massachusetts. Jax and I were both so excited to have him back in his element with his school.

I walked Jax into the classroom for his third day back when I heard the dreaded words: “Kate, could you take a second and have a little talk with Inga? It won’t take a minute.” Awww, Crap. Its like getting sent to the Principal’s office. Sure, I’ll go outside with Inga and get my ‘You’re a bad mom bitch-slap’ from Inga. Does she have a whip!?

Inga’s ‘very concerned’ about Jax. He’s five, you know, she says. I give a gentle ‘I know what you mean smile’, but I’m thinking to myself ‘I’m not such a terrible mother that I don’t know how long ago I squeezed my son out’…and I resist the urge to tell her he’s only been five for three weeks, but I have to admit, she’s right. I’ve been a little worried too, I just have no clue where to start and how to help him. Or, I have a clue or two, and some ideas on where and how to help, but its an overwhelming can of worms to tackle.

Here’s the thing. A little while back, we took Jax in for a screening for some speech therapy. What started as a simple screening for a lisp and some letter replacements turned into a two hour meeting with an IEP (individualized education program) to address the fact that Jax didn’t want to stand on one foot on the Occupational Therapist’s ‘X’ mark on the floor and ended with them telling me if they enrolled my son, he’d be an easy case to get more funding from. (Incidentally, the assessments the occupational therapist was doing with my little guy oddly resembled a field sobriety test, minus the ‘recite the alphabet backwards’, and he would have failed. Miserably.)

When we were sitting in the meeting to discuss the many ways my poor little guy wasn’t measuring up, the director of the program said something along the lines of adding my son to their program, with his needs being ‘easy to address’, that they get the same funding for any child and our case is ‘great for funding’. Realistically, of course the funding would come to the programs per child, its done through the school system. But really? Who tells a parent they want their child to be enrolled in their school for easy funding?! Duh. Say it when we’ve left the office, please.

Jax needs a little extra help with his grip to hold a pencil, crayon, etc- apparently this will help his teachers’ issues with the fact that he doesn’t want to color in the lines. No Big Deal. (Although technically speaking the ability to color in the lines falls into the ability to write legibly.) He’s clutzy, and thinks its funny to slide into home on his knees on the playground, always wearing through the left knee of his pants. So randomly playing a lousy game of baseball when the other kids aren’t playing is out for this kid too. Heaven forbid. When the Occupational Therapist asked Jacob to balance on one leg, and then to walk on the straight line touching his toes to his heels, had Jax been capable as an almost 4 year old, he would have told her to shove it. (See? Just like a field sobriety test.) Sometimes kiddos just aren’t interested in what the teachers want them to be interested in. Other times, in teacher speak, they say the child isn’t ‘interested’ (fingers in air making quotes) because they can’t do it.

I’m grateful Jax’s needs are simple but need time with special treatments. We are fortunate we aren’t facing the uphill battle of special needs some families are. Some I hope he’ll grow out of or are just a phase, but my deepest worry is that they might be searching for underlying issues with the ones his teachers keep bringing up. It concerns me that parents and some teachers today may have the tendency to jump onto names and conditions and medications instead of relying on simple, gentle coaxing of a child’s natural need to be just that- a kid!!

Honestly I’m happier to keep us trudging along, with faith in our little guy to catch up on his own time, than to have him toe the lines of experts who say he is lacking fine motor skills. Don’t they see him build cars and assault vehicles out of legos!? Obviously we’ll get him whatever help Jax might need, but I love my Jax just the way he is.