I apologize in advance for this long winded post.
Last week Friday I went with Lisa to Smiley's parent-teacher conference. The good: Ms. Heidi seems to genuinely adore him (a mutual feeling, as Smiley is smitten with her). She says he tries hard, is nice to others, and is a very caring and loving young boy. She even commented on his smile :) The woman would form a Smiley fan club if it wasn't for professional ethics getting in the way.
The bad: the speech is not progressing very fast, although there has been improvement. She was also very unhappy with the sign language I taught him, saying it hampered his speech. I guess the first week of school was spent un-learning the signs and encouraging him to vocalize.
More troubling is his attention in class, which is noticeably below the age appropriate level. If she spends one-on-one time with him most of the time will be devoted to keeping his attention and/or repeating tasks that were hampered by him (mentally) wandering away. She's even modified a few classroom activities to keep Smiley involved.
I am well aware that ADD is over-diagnosed in this country and that some of it is a lack of modern understanding of how boys and girls differ in the classroom. BUT . . Lisa suffers from non-hyperactive ADD and her father has a fearsomely bad case of ADD, so chances are good he's inherited some of that genetic mix. We're not taking this too seriously yet and will let it ride for a few years to see how it all shakes out.
All of the above put me in a sour mood, from the critique of my well meaning sign language to the whole question mark about ADD. Even at the time I was thinking 'hey, this isn't the end of the world. There are far worse things out there,' but I was also thinking 'F this. Just once I want some good news about my kid.'.
So I wanted out of there. I didn't make a scene or say anything out of line but I'm afraid it was readily apparent that I was pushing us out the door. I did drop one line about Smiley being my 'only son', which in context painted the girls as second-class castoffs. Not good.
Lisa was royally pis*ed at me and let me have it, and rightfully so. Ah, everyone can have a bad morning.
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Then on the 13th I went alone (due to a lack of a babysitter) to the panel hearing on the need for speech therapy for LuLu. In their professional opinion she does not require it. She tested above average in intelligence, comprehension, and vocabulary. Her speech is behind (a 37 out of the minimum 40 if I followed correctly) but they think that given her age and the other skills she will adjust it by herself if given time. If in a year she still has the same problems, well, then they'll re-evaluate.
* * * * *
Then a minor miracle. This past Monday I picked Smiley up from school and he greeted me with a big smile and a 'Hi Dada', and Ms. Heidi said he did very well that day. Then we noticed he was babbling a lot more - maybe it was just that we were paying attention, but I don't think so.
Thursday a minor epiphany; Smiley went home with word that he'd done exceptionally well that day and had talked more than he ever had before. 'Boat' was said for the first time, among other words.
When I was putting him to bed that evening he showed me a book and grunted a request for me to read to him. "Not tonight," I said. He scrunched his eyebrows in sorrow and said 'pu leece da da'. I was floored!
"Lisa, come here! Lisa, now!" I said. Smiley happily repeated the word for Mama several times, although its clarity, as usual, diminished with each repetition.
Today the word 'bu lu' (blue) was used, and again congratulations were in order. To be honest his vocabulary is not very advanced from Lump's (who is saying 'dada' 'mama' 'uh-uh' and 'bye') but there is progress.
And that's a hell of a lot more than we were expecting only a week ago.