A bit belatedly, we had our son’s fourth birthday party today.
Ethan, our son, has been nicknamed ‘Monster’ since two days after birth. He was born perfectly normally, beautiful and healthy, at eight pounds, ten ounces – being so large, it seemed only natural to jokingly refer to him as ‘the monster’ at the time, and the nickname stuck. (Admittedly, he is still a large child – at his latest checkup, he’s still weighing in at the 80+ percentile weight, and 90+ percentile height.) If that method for referring to him bothers you, think more of the Sesame Street type of monster, soft and lovable, and you still have a pretty good idea of our son on his good days.
Turning four brought with it a host of issues. Given our state’s funding for these things, he has to transition from the infant-and-toddlers programs offered by our city into the school system for his special education, a process that we’d been dreading for a while and postponing for as long as we were able. Until his fourth birthday, he had been getting his services in our home, around his schedule at a mainstream, private preschool – as of his birthday, those services were cut off until the school year starts in August. We don’t qualify for extended school year – ESY – and we preferred to not cause a greater disruption by yanking him out of his preschool with four weeks to go. Maybe deciding to postpone everything makes us bad parents, but I’d prefer to think of it as trying to work with his personality and his ability to absorb change rather than against it.
Turning four means getting ready for new beginnings. He’ll be going to a speech program for the summer, three mornings a week, run by a local university. The other two, he’ll be in a mainstream morning summer camp to keep him interacting with normally-developing kids for a chance at social interaction with his peers. We’re also going to be – heaven protect us – trying to start toilet training him finally over the summer and moving him into his ‘big boy’ bedroom. None of these things are going to be easy, and I think we’re both praying that it won’t be as hard as we can imagine in our nightmares.
Turning four… also means the occasional surprise, still. He’s a very picky eater at times, and we’ve gotten used to offering him new foods, only to get rebuffed. Tonight, though, after the party, after hot dogs and cupcakes and brownies and whathaveyou… when we turned our back for two minutes and got concerned when he was so quiet so long, we found he had picked up a strip of green pepper and was happily chowing away on it without complaint. No badgering, no pushing. I don’t think either of us even offered him one today, since its been met with failure before. But there he was, eating a vegetable without a fight.
He’s four now, and for everything that we struggle with, for him, he’s still growing up bit by bit…