Saturday, June 19, 2010

Degrees of Difficulty

As you all know, cancer complicates life. Even after treatment is over, there is fallout for which one could not have possibly planned.

Furthermore, said fallout may not be attributed entirely to cancer or cancer treatment; it just raises the degree of difficulty a bit more.

I realize as we go through our "normal" lives which we are so fortunate to experience, finally, there are a few problems that The Boy has in terms of his behavior and "self-discipline." While he behaves as many other boys his age do, I feel as though the cancer treatment and its restrictions have stunted his social growth and made typical "terrible twos" and "little boy" issues that much more problematic.

One of the major gripes about little kids at this age is that they have a tendency not to stay put. Really, who would want to do that? Why listen to Mom when she says to remain in one location when looking at the neat stuff over THERE is just so much more fun? They do learn, though, that staying with Mom, or staying within acceptable boundaries, is the proper behavior. Mom makes it more enticing to stay nearby, or Mom plans outings in such a way that the boundaries are acceptable for the child, or the child somehow understand that it's better to stay nearby than to screw around. Remembering, of course, that the innate sense of "right" and "wrong" for their own sake doesn't really come about until kids are 6 or so.

Even so, when a child hasn't had the chance to get out and explore the boundaries and test the boundaries and learn that running away from Mom is a bad idea, he needs to make up for lost time. Somehow that "fear of the unknown" and sense of danger is completely missing from The Boy's consciousness. I'm not sure if that's something that he should have gotten already, something that he has yet to develop, or if we've just got one of those kids that will jump off things and over other things and play with fire and all that dangerous stuff.

Physically, The Boy is still behind where he should be. He carries himself like a child nearly a year younger, even though his strong vocabulary gives him away as an older toddler. He seems to fall a lot, which is also typical but is likely magnified due to his gross motor delays. This evening, I saw a child who was almost exactly a year younger than The Boy, and I thought that they were the same age, because they moved similarly. Actually, the other child was a better climber and could jump. The mother was worried about her son's verbal skills, and I reassured her by saying that The Boy at that age was not putting two words together, although he could request what he wanted for breakfast or ask for things, as long as he knew the word.

Even the parental concerns about how our children progress are both augmented and diminished as a result of cancer treatment. As in, there are some aspects of development that we know will be slower or be different, so we don't worry as much and we compare less. On the other hand, we examine certain behaviors or problems and think, "Is this normal, or is this cancer-related?"

Socially, The Boy is awkward and frequently chooses to play alone rather than with others. He is friendly initially with other children, saying "hi" at first meeting and trying to chase them if he sees them running. He never engages in a group activity for longer than 5 seconds or so. He also doesn't EVER stay interested in a concert, a story, or even many movies. Even when other children his age are sitting and listening, or participating, he doesn't. It's the lack of consistency--he was only rarely able to attend storytimes and concerts and such, until coming off treatment. Now that he can go more regularly to things like that, it's still such a chore because he isn't interested and would prefer to do his own thing. Thing is, we can't force him to participate in things. Because then he throws fits.

It's normal kid stuff. With a little extra twist.


The Reluctant Crunchy Mama said...

My daughter is The Boy's age and she does some of the things you described. For example, when we participate in circle time, all the other kids are interacting, playing with whatever toy they are given, trying to sing the song, etc. Mine is simply sitting there. I have wondered why; I have no idea whatsoever, other than kids are different. Maybe our kids are simply on the shy side? Keep taking him to the park! It has really helped Ari and hopefully will help him too. I am starting to feel that being cautious/reserved is just part of her personality. As far as doing dangerous stuff, I don't know what to tell you; I simply hope that we make it to 30 without having a heart attack! I've said it before and I'll say it again; I am so so happy that The Boy is finally getting to do all the things he should have had a chance to do all along!

Sarah R said...

Oh hon, hugs! Don't worry. The Boy has two very smart parents and it's in his genes! He's going to catch up, I am sure of it.

Andrew doesn't like other kids and will only engage in conversations with adults. While it bothers me sometimes, I don't let it get to me because I know that all kids are different. Andrew, who has had basically "free roam" since he could walk is STILL having to be reminded of his boundaries because he has absolutely no fear. We are constantly telling him to STOP when we are out in public because he just wants to do whatever he pleases, including attempting to cross busy streets alone.