Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Nolan: escape artist extraordinaire!

I think if you have a child with special needs, you will inevitably be faced with the following dilemma: when your child accomplishes something that is difficult, but naughty or dangerous, should you be proud or angry/worried? Nolan recently did something he's never done before, that involved both motor planning and physical strength. Things to be praised, indeed. However, his actions were dangerous and we have since had to put a stop to repeat performances.

What did he do, you ask? While I was not home, and Adam was not watching (he was in the next room), Nolan managed to open the front door, climb down our porch steps, walk through our yard, up our neighbor's driveway, climb her porch steps, and knock on her door.

Fortunately, our neighbor was home, heard the knock on the door, and answered it. Upon discovering Nolan at the door and realizing he was alone and barefoot, she returned him to an oblivious Adam. In fact, the only clue Adam had that anything was wrong was our dog, Jetta. She was urgently scratching the kitchen door, near Adam, because she had likely witnessed Nolan's escape from the front and knew he was outside alone. Since poor Jetta can't talk, Adam was just confused by her behavior. In the future, I think he'll pay more attention to a sudden change in her like that. Now that we know she's a reliable alert system for Nolan-danger.
Pretty sure they were enjoying the view together like this when Nolan decided to ditch his digs (and his dog) and venture out on his own!
And, then just today, I allowed Nolan into our breezeway, that has doors (that don't latch well, mind you) to the front and back yards, while I grabbed my shoes before heading to the store. In the 30 seconds it took me to get my things, he had let Jetta into the backyard (which he's done before) and followed her (which he's not done before). At least our backyard is fenced in! Apparently he's getting really good at not just pushing doors open, but also holding them open while he climbs out -his newest skill.

Yep, I looked out to see him climbing off the deck to throw tennis balls for Jetta.

 I think because Nolan develops skills more slowly than most kids, we sometimes lose our edge as parents. We should be one step ahead of him all the time, anticipating his next move. But we never know when his next move is going to be! That's my excuse anyway! :)

Needless to say, we will now be very attentive to keeping all doors latched and locked. Fortunately, Nolan doesn't know how to turn knobs yet -the front door he opened was the outer glass door that only has a lever handle he pulled down. We knew Nolan loved to be outside, but we didn't realize how desperate he was to get out there. He was obviously very motivated to overcome obstacles to get what he really wanted. I'm happy to encourage his perseverance and independence -but in a safe manner.

I fear that teaching Nolan safety limits may be a challenge. He definitely struggles to understand new concepts, especially abstract ones. If he does something that hurts him immediately, like pinching his fingers in a drawer, he learns quickly how to close the drawer while keeping his fingers out of the way. But teaching him not to do something he wants (like go outside by himself) because of a consequence he can't comprehend is a different story. In fact, just following simple directions in general is something we're working on a lot right now. Fortunately, Nolan's a pretty cautious kid, for 2 and a half. He doesn't like to get hurt and if we tell him "be careful!" or "you're going to fall," he usually heeds our warning. But, outside is fun! It's not scary or foreign to him, so teaching him limits on it will be difficult.
I wish I could put up gates and a moat to keep this kid safe!
I'm just thankful Nolan's big escape ended positively and we learned a big lesson from it: if Nolan can get outside, he will. Now we know. After I learned of Nolan's solo trip outside, I was tempted to dwell on the "what ifs," but that would have been pointless. God was watching out for Nolan and kept him safe. That's it. No point in considering otherwise.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter Everyone!

Please excuse my temporary absence from regular posting. As some of you know, Nolan recently bumped me with his head and fractured my front tooth. A few days ago, I had oral surgery to extract the tooth and am recovering at this time. I hope to be back to normal soon!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 11, 2014

My Little Running Buddy

Before I had Nolan I was what I would call a casual runner, having run a few 5K's. When I became a mother, though, I began to run more. Running took on new meaning for me as a new mom, and I took Nolan right along for the ride. 

I was very fortunate to have received a jogging stroller as a shower gift before Nolan was born. My aunt, a fellow-runner, bestowed the very thoughtful gift upon me and it is probably the only "baby gift" I still use! I believe Nolan was around 7 months by the time I was able to use the stroller (because he was born in August, I had to wait until the cold weather of Fall and Winter had passed). But his trusty chariot is still going strong in it's third season now.
One of Nolan's first rides in the jogger. I think his grumpy old man face was a result of being tired. I'm sure he fell asleep as soon as I got going.
Nolan has tolerated riding along with me to varying degrees at different ages and stages. When he was really young, he would sleep in the carseat carrier, which was nestled in the jogging stroller, while I ran. As he got older though, I was forced to find ways to entertain him if I wanted to get past a mile. Last summer, when he was almost two, I remember having to pause every mile to give him something: a drink, more Cheerios, etc. I recall getting through one longer run with him by filling his tray to the brim with Cheerios. He spent the majority of the 4 miles tossing Cheerios to the ground one by one. I think he was leaving a trail in case I got us lost in the park!

Last year, he got really good at wiggling out of the harness if I didn't secure it well. Maybe he was looking for his Cheerio refill...
Even though pushing him in the stroller makes a run significantly more laborious, it's definitely not without it's rewards. Nolan's a pretty good running companion. He isn't a talker so I don't have to worry about keeping up a conversation while I huff and puff. And, he loves to look back and watch me, and seeing his little face always makes me smile. I don't take him on every run, and I don't race with him, but I do enjoy the shorter runs I'm able to take him on when the weather suits him.

Nolan doesn't realize it, but running has helped me deal with a lot of the stress that comes with being his mom. Being a mom is stressful. Being a mom to a child with special needs can be especially so, as I recently described. Running, with or without Nolan, helps me to think through and process challenging events, like his surgeries, and disappointing therapy appointments. I strongly believe running helps me be a better mom to Nolan. 
After my half marathon last October.

Nolan even gets involved when I foam roll post-run. He's just giving me some extra pressure.

Running is so important to me, and I'm so glad I get to share it with Nolan. I hope someday my running inspires Nolan to value physical activity. After all, kids live by example, right? I've never really heard of people with Down syndrome being "runners" and I've never known or seen anyone with Down syndrome running an organized race like a 5K. But I'm sure it's possible. Even if Nolan decides not to be a runner when he grows up, I hope he'll take something away from all the miles we logged together -even if he just enjoys knowing how much I loved having him with me while I ran. I know I will always treasure sharing that time with him.

Thanks for reading!