Saturday, July 20, 2013

Early Intervention is the Antithesis of CTFD Parenting

After our unsatisfactory evaluation of LO's speaking abilities with the local school district, J and I decided to get a second opinion. Thankfully, we live a stone's throw away from Purdue, which has an excellent Early Speech and Language program, so this second opinion was fairly easy to come by.

I called the head of the program, and she suggested that I bring LO to a speech-related playgroup for two weeks running, where she and some of her graduate students could unobtrusively observe LO in an environment that he actually had time to get accustomed to before the verdict was passed down.

Already, I had some warm fuzzies about Purdue. Imagine, treating LO like a kid instead of a test subject!

So, last Friday and yesterday, I took LO to a child's wonderland of cool toys and engaging graduate  students, and let him show off his stuff.

The good news is that the Purdue evaluator really knows her subject and truly seemed to see LO as an individual.

The bad news is that my child has trouble with transitions (not a surprise) and is still engaging in "primitive" play. That is, he's still focused on figuring out how to make things work and moving objects from inside one space to inside another. So he spent five minutes placing dolls into a car, but did no pretending about the dolls going to the store or coming home and having to get out of the car, for example. Neither of these things is a good sign.

Of course, as the evaluator is talking to me about this I had my inner Monica Geller shouting, "My kid plays better than all the other kids! He's the best at playing! How dare you describe the best player in the world as 'primitive'?!"

(Thankfully, this was just in my head.)

The Purdue evaluator will be sending us a write-up of the evaluation, along with some recommendations for potential therapy, which would be in conjunction with the school district's recommendation for full-language instruction/therapy.

Yesterday was a tough day.

I've always thought I was a parent with no particular agenda for her kid. It's really easy for me to imagine being supportive and understanding and unconditionally loving if I imagine LO bringing home a boyfriend for us to meet or having him tell me that all he really wants to do with his life is corporate law. Or even if (horrors) he tells us he's planning on voting Republican.

This view of myself as an agenda-free Mom got a shake when I imagined that my child may, unlike me, NOT be good at school.


What the heck will we talk about when he learns to talk?

In addition, getting recommendations for additional early intervention is a great way to become the kind of Chicken Little parent I simply do not want to be. "He needs intervention! What if it means he'll never read Shakespeare? Will I have a 30-year-old gay Republican corporate lawyer living in my basement who is unable to live independently or ever pretentiously quote the Bard?"

As I said, yesterday was tough.

Lately, you may have seen this post going around about a new parenting method called CTFD--that is, Calm the Fuck Down.

There are two steps to CTFD parenting:

1. Calm the Fuck Down.
2. There is no second step.

In general, I try very hard to be a CTFD parent.

But getting early intervention is basically the opposite of C-ing TFD. It's saying, "We don't know for sure if anything is wrong, but just in case, we're going to do all kinds of stuff to make your kid better, and you'll never know if it worked or if your kid would have been just fine if we'd left it alone, which will leave you torturing yourself wondering if you should have done more earlier or if you should have just been more accepting of the differences in how kids develop. Okay, sleep soundly tonight!"

Of course, we are going to take the recommendations made by the experts--and particularly the one from Purdue, because she was the expertiest expert we have consulted. LO is clearly not hitting the developmental milestones we anticipated. That either means Something Is Not Exactly Right, or it means the kid's a bundle of quirks.

And I get to revisit this torture every time I get a progress report that says anything other than that LO is clearly the most brilliant child ever to grace the earth.

I just need to remember the CTFD steps.

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