I had a great weekend. Nothing truly spectacular happened. I, for the most part, tucked the blog away in my top drawer. I wasn’t on call and didn’t connect into my clinic computer. I tried to be really present with all 3 boys in my house.
I played with my kids. We did the typical things that dress up weekends for normal people: errands, a grocery store trip, naps, dinner, test drove a car, met friends and their kids for lunch, met friends and their kids for dinner, went to IKEA, had dinner with grandma, took out the recycling, rearranged the living room.
Usually, that little “trip to IKEA” sandwiched in there would be a back/mood/weekend breaker. This time, no.
In the midst of this wholly normal yet stupendous weekend, I had mentioned to a friend how F was having a hard time with the concept of single digits forming greater numbers, especially in the teens. That is, he can count pretty easily from one to fifty, but when I point to the clock and ask what time it is, he says “seven, one, three.”
I’ve explained the concept of two numbers forming another, many (ineffective) times. We’ve written out a list of numbers. We’ve pushed them together. We’d watched the clock and counted out loud for minutes and minutes. None of that worked.
Then this morning, inspired by the new house, in the midst of the raindrops, with the husband on call, a trip to IKEA became the center of our Sunday. On the way out the door, we’d measured F & O’s new closet because we’re trying to make it into little reading nook with a chair, rug and lots of books for cozy time. We measured the dimensions with a flexible tape measure. F wanted to hold the tape measure during the drive. Sounded pretty good to me.
Then, the unthinkable for a under-rested mom: discovery and learning with no proper pre-planning. A little ray of wonderment making me feel like a good Mom after all the beat-myself-up moments of the past few tiring weeks. And although it was likely due to auspicious (my favorite word from my college essay) fate, expected 3 year-old development, and good old fashion “time together,” it still made me feel like a rock star. And F too, I think.
Stuck in the car, tripping around Seattle and down Interstate-5, F and I counted together slowly from 1 to 60. With each number he would advance his finger one strut on the tape measure. Poof, it happened. In mere minutes, he got it. That concept I couldn’t quite reach, that 1 and 7 together were an entirely different number than when alone was solved by the sewing kit. Ta-dah. Seventeen really does look different when it fits right between 16 and 18 on a flexible, regimented tape. There was true order for F. When I asked him to put his finger on 23, he could. And tonight, 8:17 had sense.
Inching along and driving south, reshaping my motherhood. The result: the rare, nearly endangered specie, a perfect trip to IKEA. Who knew something so routine could be adorned with such wonder. Goodnight, January Sunday.
you describe such a lovely moment. we underestimate the power of putting concepts into the hands of our children. How much do you think the fact that you weren’t trying to teach allowed the concept to be learned? Is there a correlation sometimes between how much we want them to learn and how closed up their mind may be?
Love this blog!! Thanks. Our son is 15 and we are finally facing the reality of possible learning disabilities. He is bright, athletic, kind and loving and currently an A and B student. His problems are more with words than numbers. When he tries to tell a story, many times gets it out of sequence. His recent essay in english showed the same pattern. Hard for him to know where to start and how to put his thoughts in sequence and then on paper. Now that we have actually started talking about this “elephant” in the room, our son seems relieved and very open to testing. He described to us last night that he sits in the classrooms and sometimes feels like he is not getting anything. I wanted to cry as I had those same experiences as a child. Any suggestions on what doctor would be best for having some testing done and or just your general thoughts on dealing with this issue? We are also aware that each of us learn differently, young and old. Your story of the tape measure is a good reminder of that. So we don’t want to pidgeon hole him, but seems prudent to at least get some testing done. Would love to hear from you. Thanks, Joanne
I think this blogging is fantastic! It gives me better insight into the “normal” life of a doctor. Your story about your kids sounds so much like ones I’ve had to deal with my kids. Keep up the good work, you are an awesome mom.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD says
Well, Cheryl, thanks! You have made my morning a little brighter. This AM, nanny called in sick, took F to preschool and he screamed/clung/clawed at me not to leave him, convinced Grandma to watch O and the Luna (the dog) for the day, BUT forgot my cell phone, didn’t eat breakfast and just realized I think I forgot to brush my teeth. Lovely. Sorry world if that is TMI. I’ll work on finding some mints. But really, I’m going to believe it’s all being held together. Just like every other parent on the globe, this day will have magic bits because of these amazing little boys in my life…once this silly-start-rocky-beginning dust settles.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD says
Joanne, Thanks for your comments, too. In regards to your concerns about your son, my recommendation is, as always, trust your instincts that he may needs some evaluation. You have two great resources: the school where your son attends and his pediatrician. Talk to them both about where to start in assisting him to feel comfortable and ready to learn and perform more easily in school. Having his eyes checked, an eval for learning difficulties and possible developmental cognitive/processing tests would be a great start but both your school and pediatrician can help you determine what is best for him. Sometimes learning evals out of school are not covered by insurance but depends on your area and indication. Speak up and start to get answers for your son, then your fear and worry will likely transform into a plan to make change!