“The only way to see a rainbow is to look through the rain”
The daycare saga continued. We were into week 6 at daycare and I was feeling defeated. I was reading up on toddler biting day in and day out, they were all saying the same thing. Children bite out frustration and the inability to communicate. (Didn’t really help much) The good news was we had already followed some of the advice which included moving up bedtime to ensure more rest, cut back on screen time, etc.. maybe we just needed time for all this to take effect.
In an effort to be proactive I set up a meeting at the daycare to tell them what we were doing at home. To be honest I was also concerned that we were already at the “excessive biting” point and wanted to see if they felt the same way. I had looked in the school handbook two weeks prior and excessive biting was grounds for expulsion. When I had asked the question at that time what was considered “excessive”? I was told “a few times a day”. At the time we weren’t there yet but now we definitely were. I needed to know how many strikes my baby had left and if I needed to prepare for what would be next. What would be next? Do I ask Mom to quit her job search? I can’t watch him myself and work both jobs. My full time job was a week away from being in full peak season which meant long hours for me and lots of uninterrupted time. Do i look for a nanny? How does that help? I wanted Caleb to be out and social and if he wasn’t in daycare how was he ever going to learn proper interactions with other children? Do I start calling other daycares? How does that conversation go?
“Hi my son got kicked out of his last daycare for biting his friends. Do you have any children that wouldn’t mind being bit a few times a day? Would you like to take a chance on my child? I can’t really make any guarantees”
Can you just imagine?? It didn’t matter what the outcome would be I needed to be proactive and ask the question. That morning I asked to schedule a meeting for lunch time and the Director was very receptive.
When I got to the daycare that day I had knots in my stomach. I fully expected that he’d had an incident that morning already but surprisingly he had not. I peaked through his class window and saw that his teacher was trying to get him down for a nap. He seemed clingy. Everything in me wanted to go in and get my baby and take him home…but I didn’t.
When the Director was finished with her other meeting she came and got me. She asked if his teacher could join so we could all talk and I agreed that would be helpful if Caleb would let her go right now. At that point another teacher went in to snuggle him and we were off to have our meeting.
I started the meeting by letting them know how sorry I was for all the incidents and that I’d been sick with worry not only about Caleb but also for the other babies he’d been biting. His teacher and I talked again about how she couldn’t seem to narrow down what triggers Caleb. One minute he was fine and the next he’d be agitated. He’d get frustrated to go outside and then be upset when it was time to come in. Just before nap-time was always difficult. The director mentioned that during her classroom evaluations she noted that Caleb was a loner, he’d prefer to play alone and sometimes didn’t even want another child to sit next to him during an activity. Initially she had assumed it was because he’s an only child or just because being in a daycare setting was new to him so his teachers were mindful of that and were trying to work with him.
After going back and forth in discussion there was a pause, a moment where we’d all seemed to be at a loss in trying to determine what next and then the director said “I’m going to get personal for a moment and tell you that Caleb reminds me a lot of <insert her child’s name>” I knew she had a son, I’d thought she’d said he was 4 and I remember when we first enrolled she also mentioned that he too was a late speaker. She had been the second person in fact to mention speech therapy. Is that what she meant?
She continued by saying “ Jackson(that’s what we’ll call him) was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder. It means that 1 or more of his senses don’t function the way they’re supposed to when it comes to transporting information to the brain so the other senses are overworked. I’m not a doctor and I’m not diagnosing Caleb but I feel like I need to tell you what I notice and he is exactly like Jackson was at that age.” I will remember these words FOREVER.
In that moment though I can’t remember what I felt…I remember hearing “he was diagnosed” and I actually remember waiting to hear her say she thought Caleb was showing signs of autism. That was a word I was familiar with but this sensory thing I didn’t know about. I tried not to ask her too many questions because this was her child we were talking about and I felt like I’d let her share whatever she was comfortable with. I also didn’t ask because she wasn’t a doctor. In that moment she was just another concerned mama talking to another mama.
She advised me to go home and look it up and then speak with Calebs pediatrician but she also told me what she saw that was familiar. Calebs obsession with numbers and letters and the need for excessive repetition, his inability to switch tasks without feeling agitated, she noticed that Caleb was more overwhelmed on days when there were more kids in his class. When we enrolled Caleb the school was new so his class was barely a handful, over the six weeks his class had tripled in size and as it grew so did the incident reports. She mentioned Calebs problem with food texture and some of the other areas that seemed delayed and said those were all things Jackson dealt with.
As she rattled off things about my child that I’d never told her, I began to cry. I think I was actually sobbing, and she was crying and apologizing. And then I was apologizing and for a minute she let me cry and collect myself. She apologized again for upsetting me and once I could get the words out I finally said “I’m not sad I’m relieved!” I was relieved because I felt like she had reached down into a place that I buried things I could never say out loud and relieved me of all that weight.
The crying continued off and on as we spoke about our boys one mama bear to another. She suddenly asked me how Caleb was in the car and I explained to her what a nightmare car rides had been from birth. She said “do you sit in the back with him? Is that where the iPad started?” It was like I was talking to a psychic and i was crying again….she said I know all of this all too well. How much do you hate running weekend errands? Again I was crying. I explained to her that errands were either a 3 person trip with my mom or 1 of us at home with him and the other out. It had only been recent that I may be able to go 2 places with just me and Caleb, 3 if one was a drive through stop that didn’t involve us getting out of the car. She explained to me that for Jackson it was the motion of the car that made him uncomfortable and the start-stop-start transition of running errands that was overwhelming for him. Since he was a little older now she told me having a schedule and a plan was a necessity for her to get through these tasks. She’d have to say ok today we’re going to Target, the bank and Walmart and then that was the plan. He was fine as long as she stuck with the plan. She too got emotional explaining that some days were still better than others but at 4 it was definitely better than when he was 2. She promised that it would get better. And i believed her. It was all making sense……and yes I was crying again.
We talked a little more with her ending our meeting saying yet again that she was not diagnosing Caleb but wanted to offer her opinion and encouraged me to get an appointment with his pediatrician ASAP to discuss, including forcefully requesting a referral to a speech therapist. We also came up with a plan for Caleb which included a timer at home and at daycare to help him transition between activities. I left there feeling hopeful and exhausted and scared but I knew one thing for sure.
He had chosen me……and with that I was off to make calls, do my research and I was on a mission to ensure that my son was going to be just fine. Things WOULD get better.