Monday, May 16, 2011

Choppers In 'Nam #1

In a post called My Gym Makes My Sphincter Clench, I described the horrible flashbacks that I experienced when Audrey recently attended a My Gym camp, some four years after I tried to take her there as a toddler.  Just hearing the opening notes of their stupid "welcome" song brought awful memories flooding back of me trying to get Audrey to do what she was supposed to be doing along with the other kids in one of their classes.

In that post, I described it as like hearing the "choppers in 'Nam", so intense was my flashback to a really scary and miserable time in my life.  Every phase has had its ups and downs, but the years between when Audrey was about 18 months through 3 years were particularly sucktastic.

Various sights and sounds can take me reluctantly back to that time in my life, so I thought I'd post about them as they come upon me.  Maybe it will be a regular feature...or maybe I will stop after this one if I notice everyone backing slowly away from me.

Installment #1 are these little bitches right here:

Probably not cool to call little toddler girls "bitches", but they're just sketches right?  I can call sketches of typically developing toddler girls "bitches" if I want to.  Look at that one on the right.  Cuz I did, like every minute of every day for months and months as I picked this book up to check on Audrey's milestones.  Look at her ugly little Dutch boy haircut and overalls, and that smug little smile on her face that says "I'm developing totally normally!  Look at my precocious pretend play skills!"

Yeah, you're pushing a plastic shopping cart full of your toys, you bowl-headed ninny.  What kind of a store are you pretending to be shopping at where you can buy your puked-on teddy bear and dirty-ass truck?  Pfft.  You think you're so great.

But the inside of the book pushed me way closer to a nervous breakdown than the cover ever could.  Remember how it went through each month and broke down milestones by 1) what your child should be able to do, 2) what your child will probably be able to do, and 3) what your child may be able to do?

I would try to take heart if she wasn't doing the "probably's" or "may's", but then I noticed that those just got rolled forward into the following months' "should's".  DOH!  And then I kept re-reading the fine print that said she should be doing this stuff by the end of said month, and I would literally be counting days on a calendar from the 19th (her birth date) and not the 1st of the it was ever gonna make any difference.  If I would have known then what I know now...she's 7 and we're still working on some of them.

Here's an example from the chapter on the 13th month, and my editorial comments about Audrey...

Your child should be able to:
  • Pull up to standing - She's not, but it's not the 19th yet so climb off my ass.
  • Get into a sitting position - What do you mean by "get" exactly?  Get from where?  If I put her down into a sitting position, she stays there with a Boppy pillow around her.
  • Cruise - What kind of a sick book is this?

Your child will probably be able to:
  • Put an object into a container - If the "object" is her hand and the "container" is her poopy diaper, then yes.
  • Use one recognizable word - YES!!!!!  Elation subsequently turns into despair when she loses it by the 16th month.

Your child may be able to:
  • Yeah, we're done here.

Feel free to join in on the misery fun and tell me about any of your triggers that take you back to those bad old days.


  1. we went to a baby and child expo when my son was 1.5yrs old, and he still refused to eat a single bite of any solid food and was starting to lose weight. When we sat down to eat lunch at the table across from us was a mom feeding her 4mth old baby boy solid foods, he was sitting up on his own unassisted, clapping, verbalising noises of displeasure at the spoon not being in his mouth fast enough and he ate 2 jars of food and still wanted more. I felt like a total failure because my boy wouldn't even wave hello.

  2. Well I feel like I'm still in the thick of it, with Sam only being 3, and basically not doing a single thing she's "supposed" to do. The thing that really gets me is going to my older daughter's dance performances and seeing the 3 year old girls in their little pink tutus. I've cried more than once during the performance. It feels like they're ripping out my heart and stomping on it with their little pink shoes.

  3. Mostly it's the scenes of the crimes that take me back to my Nam. The restaurants we were bounced from, the bookstore who keeps sending me bills for display shelf damage, Washington DC......

  4. I just polished off a package of rainbow-colored xanax after reading this. The Gym is also my Nam. I still get flyers from them and when flipping through the mail on the way back from the mailbox, I instinctively fall to the ground and army crawl it back to the house and huff into paper bags. Slow motion music montages play in my head of the group walking in a circle and smiling and singing. Well, everyone else. I spent most of my time trying to peel Ellie off my face and soothe her chihuahua nerves while the other parents and instructors always tried to reassure me that she'd grow out of it. When I look back now, I imagine they all placed bets behind our backs to see how long it would take for this crazed mother to realize her daughter had Autism. We should get purple hearts for serving, Lynn. Or at least dog tags.

  5. Christine, we are part of a homeschool group with other preschoolers, and one of the boys is 4 yrs old. My little man is nearly 6 and this boy just blows him away, his handwriting is perfect, he can spell and is so articulate when talking. I feel the same little stomping on my heart when he is playing around my son :(

  6. Sophie was ahead on most milestones (except she never crawled...went from floor to walk, at 10 and a half months). She was unvaccinated, cloth diapered, breast fucking fed until my boobs were about to fall off, vegetarian diet until three, co-sleeping...perfect, perfect, perfect...BANG...One day, about 6 months into the shit, I actually started laughing at the irony of it: fed formula from a tube in her stomach, throw-away diapers, drugs up the ars (some literally so), had fewer abilities than a newborn. Man, oh man, life has a way of keeping us humble, don't it? Well...we're still co-sleeping!

  7. It was when I thought I was the only crazy one who though a newborn should NOT be hitting her head and pulling her hair to soothe herself. When she gets into those fits now it just reaffirms that I knew something was wrong way back then. It's not even what I think she should be doing. It's the people who see her and go "oh once she starts talking she'll be ok." hmph. Ok DR of nothing let me know how that works out.

  8. I'm still in the thick of it. The cute video of a typically developing child being interviewed by mom then posted on the blog. My 4yo still couldn't talk that clearly or answer those questions in such a concise manner, but yet according to his current school, he's ready to mainstream. UGH

  9. For us, it wasn't the gross motor that tipped us of. Katie was pulling herself to standing at 6 months old and walked full on at 9. I was reading that book thinking my kid was genius. I mean, SURE, she wasn't hitting those verbal milestones, but, really, they were pretty generous with the time frame on those. Or at least that is what I convinced myself. And I could totally fudge that whatever sound she was making was kinda a word. And, who even CARED about the talking?! She walked early! She was working on that and didn't have time for language...right?! That's what everyone told me. Well, everyone apart from our ped who saw problems at her 12mo appt, but I totally blew him off. At 12 mo she was still a BABY. He was expecting way too much. Clearly kids her age didn't have words. And our friends whose kids did? They were still sitting on their asses! So they were just working on speech...DUH.

    I live in flashback central b/c I have an 18mo niece who is typical. She isn't speaking in sentences, but totally is using 2 word phrases and has a TON of words and plays and engages and all that crap. Every time I am around her I feel awful. I mean, I love the kid to death, but she sends me back to when Katie was that age and didn't speak/point/play at all. I can only be like, oh yeah, I can totally remember when Katie started talking like FOUR.

    Nowadays I don't even have the gross motor to cling to. She was early as an infant but now seems to have come to a screeching halt. Whatever 4yo I know with no training wheels...screw you. Oh, what, your kid could actually JUMP ROPE at the jump rope for heart thing?! WHATEVER. And your kid can do shit without huge meltdowns? SCREW.YOU.ALL. Your kid has friends? Done.

    As K has gotten older its gotten worse. I think I'll have flashbacks from lots more than this stupid book as time goes on.

  10. The Boy will be 16 in two months. I hate to break your little bubbles here, but it doesn't end. Now, instead of physical milestones not being met, we have parents bragging about their kid driving, playing on sports teams or cheerleading, going to prom and being inducted in the National Honor Society.

    We must quit comparing our kids to the rest of them - and compare themselves to what they could/could not do before.

    Are they more socially appropriate? Are they getting better at tolerating noise? Are they having fewer meltdowns?

    If you can answer yes (even minimally) to any one of these questions - then your child is progressing!

  11. @Christine: Pink tutus are definitely a trigger when you have a girl.

    @Kara: Hi hi, how do you do, welcome to My Gym, we're here for fun and some games, now it's time to begin. Just trying to drive you to more Xanax. "Chihuahua nerves"...that is perfect. I just had this convo with a friend about how all of our therapists probably knew long before we did and talked behind our backs like "oh yeah. totally. for sure."

    @Claire: Total effing bait-and-switch. You don't strike me as someone who needed a lesson in humility, so WTF universe?

    @Jen: Yeah, we were actually lucky in retrospect to have the gross motor delays to flag us that something was awry. I stay away from my niece at all cost.

    @June: Thankfully there's no "What to Expect, the Teen Years". I think the comparing to other NT kids gets less and less as kids get older, but I still have these flashbacks to the bad old days.

  12. Man, I can so relate! I hated that damn book with a passion! My daughter was a mixed bag, though. Some milestones she was doing years ahead of schedule. They should warn you could be an indicator that something isn't right also!

    Stupid book!

  13. Swear to God, I don't remember how I felt reading that book. I remember vaguely feeling like Jen that my son was ahead in his gross motor - he took his first step at like 8 months (big boy) but never crawled. He could always get out words. I more distinctly remember the pediatrician asking if he used at least 20 words at one stage and then I wrote down each word with a marker on some folded paper every time I came across a new one so I could show her he was meeting milestones - what an idiot I was! Anyway, I must be repressing those flashbacks - I can't deal with it yet, so I guess you've actually made more progress!

  14. Same here, life between 18 months and 3.5 years was particularly sucky as well.

    Even now, I must be careful not to fall into a hole, when I see a normal developing child of that age.

  15. You forgot book's #4) if your child is not doing these things RED ALERT refrigerator Mother, get off the crack pipe! Well, maybe I'm just reading more into that than I should.

    Before "diagnosis" I was in a Mommy and Me type {hell} class. A dozen typically developing kids playing and engaging, loving the songs, sitting in their Mommy's laps, actually painting and coloring, not throwing paint...then there was me and my guy. I honed my skill of averting dagger eyes from other Mother's during said class because my son was wailing and wanting to find the quickest escape route. The class' educational facilitator made me feel much better when they just constantly reminded me that the problem was just his "sour temperment", which was the nice way of saying I had given birth to spawn of the devil. Hate Mommy and Me, just sayin'.

    Lynn-This might be an idea to give BD a run for his money. Your book...if "What to Expect" is WAY off course, you're screwed, put the book down and read this. I think you should go for it!

  16. Ahh, Lynn, I so love your blog and all the comments if not for just the awesome lingo. "Sucktastic" and "chihuahua nerves" have now been added to my vocabulary.

    I'm so with you on those "what to expect" books. I got about 1/3 through the toddler one when I promptly donated it to some other mother- it made me mental.

    My one Nam moment was descending the stairs to the basement of a friend who was having a group playdate/happy hour for our 2 1/2 yr olds. We all bonded when our kids were born within a month of each other. Of course we arrived late (mistake #1 of #34) and all the moms were happily chatting on the couch, glass of wine in hand, occasionally smiling at their kiddies across the room. I was trying to get an inch of air between my daughter and my body (I called her the barnacle back then), trying to talk calmly to her and faking smiles to the other kids for over an hour until I came to my senses and made a break for it. Thankfully that family is in a different house now so I don't have to walk those particular stairs again.

  17. Joey was always a few months behind on all of those wonderful milestones. Oddly enough his sister was ahead. Sadly, she's average. Here I thought I'd have a prodigy that would cure cancer or something big and make me a millionaire.

    Joey is (according to those crazy books) about 2 years old in many areas......Screw Them!

    But you asked about flashbacks, my big trigger is when I see that vein in his forehead and how he was 9 months old and the vein in his hand broke (it took 30 minutes to get that one and it broke after a couple of days) and then they tried his feet and it didn't work for even a second and then they put the vein in his forehead. The whole process took over an hour. It was terrible so anytime I see that vein I about lose it.....and when people say it's so horrible to let your baby cry it out (assuming the kid is fed and has a clean diaper and the house is at a comfortable temp) in their cribs because mommy needs a solid 8 hours of sleep without getting out of bed for just one godforsaken night.......I go a little batty.

  18. .....I don't think I ever clarified that the IV son had IV's for a MRSA infection he caught. Had surgery, IV antibiotics, it was a nightmare.

  19. ill always be grateful for the woman who led the childbirth class we took when pregnant with Avery. she asked the class "how many of you own a copy of what to expect when you are expecting?" when 2/3 of the class raised their hands (myself included) she promptly said "put that book away and never look at it, it's crap". love that woman.

  20. I never read this book for two reasons: (1) The first one scared the snot outta me when I was pregnant, and (2) My postpartum depression was so bad I didn't have the attention span to read a post-it note.

  21. This makes me strangely uncomfortable. "I will not remember, you can't make me, I WILL NOT REMEMBER!!"

    Any-hoo, where are we? Oh yeah. Mine would not transition to solid foods until almost 18 months, and even then, mostly very soft "solid" foods.

    And he didn't point or wave. Not until about 2 years old, veeeery late.

    My main trigger is driving past the daycare that kicked him out at age 3, because he started his "biting phase" late. A$$holes.

  22. I'm still in the miserable, can't-stand-other-kids phase. So, in a weird way, it makes me feel better that you were miserable once too but now can write funny posts about it.

    I sold my What to expect books to some sorry sucker on craigslist. But this reminds me, did you ever read the "Girlfriends' Guide" books by Vicky Iovine? There's pregnancy, 1st year, and toddler year books. They are SO funny, and her writing style reminds me a lot of yours. I really think you need to write the "Girlfriend's Guide to Autism." Seriously, read these if you haven't. You could do it and it would be a huge bestseller.

  23. yeah that book always made me nervous every time i paged through it. Now, silly me, I never knew that was a girl! I lookd at it 1000000 times and I always thought that was a BOY! LOL. thank-you for pointing it out to me that it was a girl, i think you are right...LOl I must be blind or something.

    anyway, my sons were always advanced with most things but they were just "odd" if you kwim. So the drs always asked about milestones and never asked about the overall picture. I kept telling them something was amiss but they kept saying well, he is talking! if he wasn't talking then maybe I might agree with you-- so its crazy.

    anyway, certain places make me sick to my stomach. the places that my son flipped out and had meltdowns at mostly. not good memories. I never went to MY Gym or mommy and me classes etc with my boys since I knew it would be instant doom just by their personalities. I wanted to go I am sure but knew i could never go with them and THAT made me sad. Even just going to the library was stressful, they would pull books off shelves and scream etc...i was pretty much home bound and avoided all social situations for years with them.

  24. I'm laughing too hard to remember any of those triggers. Thanks for a great post on a Monday morning!

  25. I tossed the book out on its ear with my daughter since she didn't walk independently until 15 months (and is completely NT--well, she's freaking nuts, but other than that). Screw you, book; screw you and your pages!

    By the time my son came along we had BABYCENTER. Oh, boy. When I was pregnant with him, those weekly "This is what you're experiencing" emails were awesome. By the time we got to the "Here's what to expect this month" around a year-and-a-half, it made me sick to open the emails.

    Now they go straight to the trash folder. I don't need to read that crap, he's doing what he's doing and doing darn fine at it, too. Keep your thoughts to yourself, BabyCenter.

  26. Maybe I blocked these days out or maybe I was too busy hating my EX-MIL to remember that I had a baby and I wanted a happy marriage LMAO.

  27. Those were the worst years of my life. At one point I remember crying and cussing out the little bitch on the front cover. And then I started laughing because who thought it would be OK to publish a book with those horrible haircuts and clothes?!? Not someone I was looking to for advice.
    I threw it out after that and never looked back.

  28. My son is 26, so the early years melt together into a painful lava mess. But the worst of all was turning around one night at work and seeing my son's classmates dressed up for formal senior prom. My heart was stabbed. Yet I knew the kids well enough that I had to force a big smile and wave at them. I hadn't even known it was prom night - much less ever expect my son to go. Prom clothes still remind me...

  29. @Cari @Christy: I would so love to write that book!

    @Deanna: The words "play" and "date" are not allowed to be used together in this household. Ack. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

    @Rebecca: Holy crap, that sounds awful! It sucks when something right on their FACE gives you Audrey's dog bite scars...sorta hard not be reminded when it's right there staring back at you every day.

    @Erica: Love her too. I did not have that woman for my teacher unfortunately.

    @Kim: He/she/it is a little androgynous. Let's call it "Pat".

    @Christy: Ew. At least I had to consciously choose to look at the my email inbox? No thank you.

    @OZMO: Yeah, I can see where you can still have pangs even when they're into their 20's. Prom *sniff*

  30. Really, it bothers me that I have a hard time being around normies Sam's age and younger. I don't want to be like that! I want to be happy for them, but it just hurts. At least from reading all of these posts it sounds like it's "normal" for me to feel that way.

  31. NO NO NO!!! That is a little girl!! It has to be! Everyone knows girls develop faster than boys! This is why my nearly 5 year old functions like a 2-year old. I hear Einstein hooted like a dinosaur until he was 14!

  32. I love this post so I hope this becomes a regular feature on your blog!
    We also had really hard time with Diego at that age (really birth to 3 years old) and a few triggers for me are airports and haircuts. We had a rough experience at an airport when we flew together as a family in December of 2009. For some reason the TSA agent thought Diego should have to walk through the metal detector in the security line by himself! Then after watching him throw himself on the floor and scream and cry since he didn't understand and had just watched his mom go ahead of him, he relented and let us escort him. I was pretty mad to say the least...
    Plus haircuts continue to be one huge meltdown for him and I dread those days...

  33. This is one of those situations when your awesome attention to detail was kicken your ass everyday. I was even stressed out about the milestones when I read this stupid book and as you know I'm 67% oblivious. It didn't help that my husband was in my ear with "What delay?! I didn't point to anything til I was 14 years old!" *sigh*

  34. Well, I guess I'm still kind of in the trenches. But I once took Moe to a mommy & me type class at the community center. I dropped out after just two or three classes, I was so discouraged by how different he was. This year, I started taking Jelly there, and it was a totally different experience, but I had to compose myself when I first walked into that room.

    I also recently ran into a mom who I used to know from Gymboree. I hadn't seen her in 2 years, because I quit everything when we started in-home ABA. I told her what was going on with Moe and she kind of said "yeah" like she could have guessed he was autistic. It broke my heart and made me want slap her.

  35. we didn't get a diagnosis until my son was 3 years old. It seems to only really be effecting his communication and social skills. This of course makes watching him at the park hurt...

    Little girl "come with me!"
    my son (silence)
    Little girl "You have to come with me, we are playing house."
    my son (silence as he offers the little girl a pine cone)
    Little girl "What's wrong with you?"
    my son (starting as a quiet moan, it turns into a yell of excitement) Elephant!!!

    ya, those are awful moments.

  36. I hated this book with a passion and my kids aren't on the spectrum. It's just a hateful, judgey make me hover and push things at my kids kind of book. When I found myself taking actual notes on Violet's development I threw it out.

  37. I read all those books but I usually figured my son was a little behind because he was born a month early. Now my son with autism is 11 and it does bother me to take him to Boy scout meetings and watch the other 11yr old boys playing and doing things that my son has no interest in at all. But they accept him for the most part and last night, one of the boys even asked him to play tag with them, (even though he didn't really know how!) - he just ran and followed them around the playground. At least they didn't make him "it"!

  38. I had totally forgotten about that! You just took me back!!! I remember breaking into a cold sweat over those should, could, may sections. I tossed that book and never used any books for Xavi, even though he was NT, I just didn't want to go through that trauma again.

    Oh and I think Dutch Boy haircut kid is actually a boy.

  39. Ok. So. An actual Chopper is my biggest trigger. The first time it happened I thought I was going to end up in the loony bin.

    After Owen was born I wanted to shove that What to Expect book up someone's ass. Up everyone's ass. And write my own;

    "What to expect when your kid is born mostly dead and if he actually lives he still won't ever do anything those fucking books say he will do