Thursday, March 7, 2013

Miserable in the Middle

I have been trying to absorb and navigate a recent truth that I must come to terms with.

We care for four individuals with special needs.

Not always in a strictly medical sense, but often in a very intense and immediate and nothing-else-is-going-to-happen-until-this-gets-fixed way.

Most of the above happens primarily in regard to Kit and Grandpa's needs. But Zak has a good handful of moments like that too.

And then there's Grace. Goofy Grace, Grinning Grace, Gregarious Gorgeous Graceful Grace! And lately, Gloomy Grace.

A Little Left Out 

She has a problem with not having enough problems. Yes, I'm being quippy, but it's also completely true.

She is truly upset that Zak gets to see a doctor every week, and gets to answer questions. She literally tears up. "It's not fair! When do I get to go see a doctor?" She feels like she is missing out big time.

And you know what? She is.

Not because she doesn't get to go see a doctor, but because in her eyes, it's just getting to do something special, out of the ordinary, and she's missing out. And she's right.

Everyone else in this house demands, and gets, almost immediate attention from Mommy and Daddy. How many times have we had to interrupt an activity with her to care for someone else's emergency? A lot. And she's right, it's not fair. And when she gets loud or talks non-stop, she gets reprimanded, but from her viewpoint, isn't she just screaming at us: Look at me! I'm here too! I want to be special too! I want to be noticed by myself, just for myself!

Her Cup Runeth Over, and Over, and Over 

She's desperately fighting through the thicket of needs, needs, needs! And she should. Absolutely, she should. But she shouldn't have to fight so hard. It really isn't fair. And that's what makes her needs special too.

She is so busy trying to keep up with her brother, play with her sister, not ever be left behind, grow, learn, play, chores, that we all forget, and she probably doesn't even know, that a lot of days it's just too much for her. Zak and Kit are running full speed all day until they literally crash, either into someone, something, or into meltdown mode. Grace ends up melting down sooner and more often because her system runs in the normal range and they are constantly pushing her to go faster! Some days it's almost as if she has the disorder instead of them, but she doesn't, her engine just can't keep up with theirs all the time.

I admire, truly, how much she can handle before she overflows, especially as often as she manages it. She adores her siblings and wants to be with them all the time, and make them happy, and make them laugh, and sometimes even show them that she can be in charge too. And because of this, I forget that she needs downtime. She needs time and space and quiet to let her system rebalance so that she doesn't end up in tears all afternoon. I need to not push her away when she wants hugs just because the other two have been crawling all over me or hanging/climbing/pushing/pulling on me. I forget what gentle hugs feel like unless she reminds me, and I need to let her because she needs cuddles so much more than I need to not be touched.

While the other two need extra stimulation to get their thinking going, she often needs less. Zak likes to work on math with a radio set to static, but this drives Grace buggy! She deserves to have a work environment that is conducive to her learning style just as much as he does, even if this makes coordinating things more challenging for me. And even though she can't always handle the level of roughhousing that happens with Daddy, she still throws herself into the mix because she doesn't want to miss out, but this sometimes means a teary end to the tickle-fest.

 Meeting in the Middle

So we need to work on meeting her needs, just as much as everyone else's.  Immediately, she needs more one on one time with me. And she needs a special activity or hobby that is all hers. This is my mission over the next couple weeks, help her find her niche.

Here is what I intend to do starting today.

  • She likes to cook so I need to let her help me prepare meals by planning ahead things that enable her to participate. Peeling, shredding, measuring, premixing, anything safe.
  • Designate certain activities on certain days just for her. A game time, story time, and start teaching her the violin again (fight through the tired, it's worth it!).
  • Help her find a hobby/collection that she LOVES! (suggestions are very welcome! but emphasis on cheap :) 
Let's hope these help her feel how special we know she is! (Especially before Kit has to go to her appointment with Dr. N.)

I love you to the moon and back, my Giddy Gracie Girl!


  1. Take a look at Wal-Mart's 50 cents toys in the containers near the front. Also, typing in "kids hobbies" in Google images and looking together might spark some ideas while giving both of you time to dwell on it.
    Just a simple suggestion :-)

  2. Oh, sweetheart, this one made me weep. You are an excellent mother to each one of your "needy" children - keep loving them so well.