Yesterday Julia turned 23 months old, and today is my 29th birthday! I cannot believe that in just a month she’ll be 2. The past 2 years have gone by so quickly in some ways and so slowly in others. Ken & I were looking, just yesterday, at photos of Julia as a newborn and I hardly remember her being that little yet I can barely remember what life was like before she was here. She is such a little ball of energy with such a fun, exciting personality. She is so smart and observant, is becoming very verbal and expressive. She loves to dance, loves to do arts and crafts projects, loves to play with sand, water, play dough, blocks and puzzles. She loves her baby dolls and pretends to put them to sleep and give them milk. She loves putting them in her stroller to walk them around the house. On the playground Julia has no fear: she climbs up the stairs to go down the slide all by herself, loves playing in the sandbox and even tries to go on the big kid swings.
On Sunday we started her in a little soccer class since we figured it would be a good way for her to burn off a bunch of energy on Sunday mornings and it will give us something fun to do together on Sundays that isn’t just sitting around the house playing with the same old toys. Especially as the weather starts to cool off too, it will be good to have a more organized activity to do each weekend. And since I need some time to myself sometimes, to get errands done, get a mani/pedi or just sit and contemplate life, it will give Ken something fun to do with Julia just the two of them (as long as he’s not on call). Julia LOVED it! She got a special shirt to wear to class and she loved running around, chasing the soccer ball, playing with balloons and bubbles, building cone towers, and playing with the parachute.
Julia’s in the “Little Bunnies” class so all the kids are between 18 and 24 months, which is good since none of them have any attention span at all! They all ran off at times to do their own things, none of them were very good at following directions, and they all had random little movements from time to time but it was so cute to watch. Our friends Sam & Mark had their little boy, Lincoln, in the class during the summer months and they told me that by the end of the 11-week session, he was able to do so much more on his own and he had a lot more control over his movements. I’m excited to see Julia progress over the next 10 weeks of the class!
The place where the class is held also holds dance, gymnastics, and other little sports classes for little kids so maybe when Julia’s a little older we’ll try to do some dance but for now I think soccer will be good for her since it allows her to run around, jump and be a wild little kid!
Even though we both know that we can’t take much that she does personally, it still hurt his feelings a little and was hard to see… so we tried to do as much together as we could. We did bath time together, we ate meals together, and we all had a little dance party!
Julia’s most frustrating behavior these days is biting… she’s been biting at school for about 8 months and I saw it myself for the first time on Sunday during a playdate with another little girl. It seems to be mostly when Julia wants a toy that another kid has but sometimes it seems random and unprovoked. We started working with a Clinical Social Worker to try to figure out what’s going on and her theory is that Julia gets over-stimulated during transitional times and that tactile/sensory activities help to calm her down. Yesterday a woman from a state-funded non-profit came to do an observation of Julia to see her in action at daycare. She said she thinks Julia may have some anxiety that comes from not being in control of situations and that she bites when she feels like she’s out of control. She’s going to do a few more observations and help by giving the teachers and us suggestions about how to help Julia figure out her feelings and learn better ways of expressing herself. We are working on using her words and we are also helping by describing her feelings for her: “I see that you’re feeling frustrated/mad/sad/angry/disapointed” etc. I know that this, too, shall pass and that she won’t be biting her friends forever but for now it’s very frustrating because in some ways it feels like Julia has 2 different personalities–at home she’s one kid and then at daycare she has trouble playing with her little friends and turns into a little monster. She has some good days with very few incidents but the bad days are really bad. Friday she had 4 incidents and daycare called me twice about coming to pick her up… I was able to delay it until the end of the day but she had a really rough day. I feel like this situation is starting to cause me some anxiety too… I get nervous anytime my phone rings during the day that it’s going to be daycare calling to tell me Julia bit another kid and broke the skin. I’m scared when I get to daycare to pick Julia up that the teachers are going to tell me she had a horrible day and had several behavioral incidents. And I get nervous taking Julia around other kids… I’m afraid when we go to the playground or have a playdate with another little kid that Julia’s going to bite. This weekend we’re going to one of her little friends’ birthday parties and I’m scared that she’s going to bite the birthday girl. I’m also nervous about Julia’s own birthday… I’m questioning whether it is a good idea to plan a birthday party for Julia if she may bite the friends who come to celebrate with her. And I feel like that’s not fair to Julia.
Ken has also mentioned that anxiety is a lot for a little person like Julia to handle at this age when there’s so much about the world that she doesn’t understand yet. We’ve definitely noticed a correlation between how she does during the day at school and her mood when she gets home at the end of the day. Better day at school = better day at home, so obviously her behavioral problems are affecting her mood and she can tell that she’s in trouble or has done something wrong. When we talk about biting, she doesn’t make eye contact, repeats what we say but doesn’t really talk with us, and looks down as though she feels guilty. That’s a lot for a little girl to process and I feel bad that she’s going through this. At the same time of course I feel horrible for the little kids she’s biting and their parents. No parent wants to pick their kid up from school with bite marks on their hand. One little boy even had to go to the doctor and was put on antibiotics because Julia broke the skin when she bit down and the bite was on the verge of getting infected. That makes me feel just awful. I’ve also heard from a couple parents that at home when their kids talk about Julia, they say things like “Julia, no biting” or “don’t bite me, Julia.” That makes me feel terrible that biting is the first thing they think of when they hear her name. We’re doing all we can to help her and we’re hoping things get better as we continue to work with the Social Worker and the Early Intervention Program.
Hopefully over the next several weeks as we continue to work with the “experts,” we will see some improvement but I can’t wait for a week when Julia has 0 incidents for me to hear about!
On a happier note… today’s my 29th birthday! Since I don’t really care much about birthdays and this one is fairly insignificant, we’re not really doing anything big. Ken & I are going out to dinner just the two of us tonight and I might take an hour this afternoon to treat myself to a mani/pedi but other than that it’s just life as usual. Next year on the other hand… next year for my 30th birthday I might need a huge birthday party! (Ken… you’re on!)