Wednesday, June 30, 2010

take me out to the ball game


There's something about baseball that is nostalgic for me; it really goes hand-in-hand with my childhood memories of summer. Maybe it's all the softball teams my siblings and I played on as kids. Maybe it's the Chicago rivalry between the White Sox and the Cubs. Perhaps it's just the fun memories I have of playing pickup games with my twin brother and all our friends at the neighborhood park. Whatever the reason, I do enjoy playing baseball and was excited to attend my kids' ball games just as my dad religiously sat through each and every one of mine.

I signed Danny up for the special needs baseball league through the park district this year. I had heard really good things about the league and decided that it was time to introduce my son to the wonderful world of organized sports.

So far, Danny's first baseball season hasn't quite been what I remembered it being like when I was a kid. I had visions of home runs and fly balls caught, memories of the camaraderie of teammates and high fives after the games, trips for pizza with the team after a winning game.

So far, instead what I have experienced is a lot of whining and complaining.

Though Danny eagerly agreed to join the team, he isn't all that crazy about actually playing the game. Apparently, the idea of playing ball is much more enticing than actually standing out in left field waiting for someone to please, please, please hit the ball to him. In hindsight, I probably should have known that baseball--not a fast moving sport like, say, soccer--might not suit my son who is always on the go and sometimes has difficulty being patient and focusing.

The only inducement keeping Danny at the ballpark at his first game was the promise of an after-game Sno-Cone. Believe me, the irony of bribing my kid with sugar and artificial colors so he will get some exercise does not escape me. Danny was near tears for a good portion of the game and refused to sit with his team. And every time they came in to bat, Danny assumed the game was over and demanded his Sno-Cone.

It was exhausting. Still, as I looked around at the other players, I noticed Danny was not the only kid struggling to focus or having to be bribed by parents. That was comforting, at least.

As Bil and I are not sports enthusiasts, we never really introduced Danny to the game, so he was totally clueless about the rules. When it came time for Danny to bat, he did fairly well considering it was his first time. He was able to hit the ball after a few tries (and with some assistance from the coach) and then ran as fast as he could.

The problem was, he wasn't running to first base; instead he chased after the ball he had just hit. He did this 4 out of 5 times he was up to bat. Despite repeated instruction and explanation, Danny couldn't resist the pull of that ball; he wanted to catch it and nothing was going to stand in his way.

This attitude reigned when he was playing the field. No matter which position he played or how far away from him the ball was hit, Danny ran like the wind to catch that ball. And heaven help the other players who managed to get to it sooner than he did. In his second game, Danny nearly took out a little girl with Down's Syndrome for having the audacity to catch a ball.
Finally, in the last inning, in an attempt to preserve the safety of the other players better utilize Danny's enthusiasm, the coach assigned him to catcher. That went relatively well, except that he still got bored and preoccupied.

The thing is, despite Danny's impatience and frustration at having to wait around so much, he's not a bad player. In the second game, he caught a couple grounders and hit the ball every time he was up to bat with no assistance from the coach. And most of the time he ran to first base rather than after the ball.

While this second game went better, Dany still begged for his Sno-Cone after every inning and still complained at how long the game was.

Despite it being a mere hour long, I was beginning to agree with the kid; it was far too long to listen to his whining and begging.

We may have to rethink baseball next year.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Father's Take on SPD

For Hartley's SPD blog carnival, the theme is Fathers and SPD. In 2008, my husband wrote a great post about how SPD has affected him, so I thought I would repost it. I think this post gives the reader a really good feel for what kind of dad Bil is and how involved he is in Danny's therapy. Also, it gives some insight into how a father may be feeling about his child's diagnosis.

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Hi, this is Bil (Patty's dh)-- honored to be a part of this guest blog on Pancakes Gone Awry..."to those who would suck the marrow from life, come and partake..."

I think what I need to talk about here is how my son's SPD has affected me.

I think Patty has already explained about how she 'figured it all out', and it may not surprise you that she was much more accepting of the diagnosis than I was initially. We would debate it frequently and I kept reverting back to anecdotal information I had heard about children who later became normal functional adults, but just didn't speak right away. You see, the biggest indication to us that Danny had a problem was that he wasn't speaking. At all. An old supervisor of mine at the University of Chicago, was one such example...he didn't speak until about age 4.

My attitude was that we should never expect children's mental/physical development to fit into a 'linearly progressive' model, the same way some doctors try to fit childbirth into a linearly progressive model. (It just doesn't work that way, you don't dilate to a 3 at 3am, 4 at 4 am...it's more like all of a sudden after 25 hours of no progress, you go from a 3 to a 10 in 60 minutes and it's time to push. It's totally unpredictable.)

I admit, there's something very male about having unreasonable expectations for my first-born son...not as unreasonable as expecting him to master Calculus at age 6 (like John Von Neumann), but I admit I just never expected him to have problems. I think after my initial doubts, what convinced me was meeting and speaking directly with Danny's OT. At the time of the visit, I had my mind open to the possibility of SPD, but somewhere I was still fully armed with mental reservations. If I wasn't convinced beyond a reasonable doubt, I would have to politely refute the claim... it is an unwritten law that I get to default to the "Bad Cop" role when there is an insistent telemarketer or door-to-door salesperson; Patty is sometimes too nice or reluctant to deliver the graceful blow, whereas I sometimes relish the opportunity to do so for an especially pushy specimen.

I was very hopeful that Linda would not make a strong case for Danny having some dysfunction... I would convince Patty of the holes in her theory, and we could go on with our lives and difficulties. Fortunately, Linda didn't even have to make a case: what convinced me was she had such a grasp of the condition, that she could tell us things about Danny, detailing difficulties that we faced daily that no one else would have known about so intimately; she even was able to put her finger on other difficulties that we couldn't even describe in words. To say the least, it was both enlightening and scary; we now had a new dimension of Danny's world to consider that was completely hidden to us before. While it was difficult to accept, I think finally embracing his condition was very liberating, in that Danny's behavior could be understood and we could use this new knowledge to help and empathize with him.

Patty is Danny's champion empathizer. It amazes me how much in tune she is with what Danny needs, additionally evidenced by how he trusts her so much in return. Her ability to calm his shattered nerves, and bring peace to our home in difficult times...Patty is a real blessing and inspiration to me.

So what do I bring to the family? Usually, I bring the Bad--er.. the 'Dad' Cop. The Dad Cop helps keep the balance between Good and Evil, Order and Chaos, Mania and Exhaustion.

1. At a family get-together, the Dad Cop says "Danny has had it, and we need to go home now."

2. Dad Cop says, "We've loved having you all over, but now we need to play with our kids before bed... (Please disperse, nothing to see here...)"

3. He says, "No, you have to eat some real food before we eat Popsicles."

4. He says, "You're acting out of control, you need to stay in your room until you are ready to stop pushing other kids."

5. After Danny has paid his time-out debt to society, Dad Cop calmly (usually) explains to him how society expects him to behave if he wishes to remain a free citizen.

6. During OT Therapy in the home, he helps to push the envelope a little bit at a time-- "Come on, I know it's hard, but I also know you can do it."

7. He initiates some serious 'roughhousing' and impromptu wrestling rematches on the master bed -- duck for flying pillows! Avast Ye! Ooof!

8. Sometimes he has to use tickle torture (to get information) but not too much...

9. Dad Cop has to be a good example of serving the public trust; he has to do a 'time-out' when he gets out of line (maybe too much tickle torture) and has to apologize later.

10. Dad Cop always needs to back up his partner. He jokes, "Honey, you look totally guilty of enfrazzlement. I hereby sentence you to the comfy chair while I finish sweeping/cooking/the dishes/disciplining/insert chore here."

Thanks for indulging me and my little list-- I know... I am a real dork, but I think that's why my family keeps me around. At home, you get us all together and we are a buzz of non sequitur mayhem, and the kids love it, especially Danny. We are so much alike, he and I, we both like to talk in funny voices, we act out movie dialogues, (I catch nearly all of his obscure 'references' and inside jokes, and 'translate' for Patty,) we hate shopping for clothes, and we LOVE putting excessive condiments on our food. As tempting as it might be for me to wish away his problems and difficulties, there's no part of me that could bear to take away any component of him for fear he would wind up any less of the wonderful person that he is... I love how empathetic, protective and kind he can be with his sister and his friends. Danny has demonstrated his sharpness and cleverness, has a near photographic memory, and he outsmarts me to shame continually...I only wish that I could know his thoughts, and know best how to communicate with him at his level. (I'm always trying to reason with him the same way I do with an adult, and it really taxes his patience.)

In closing, I want to let Patty know how glad I am that she trusted her instincts and got help from an OT when she felt something was wrong. I don't think I ever would have come to the same conclusion, or conceded that we needed help with Danny. There's just no telling how our lives would have been had we not taken the path to understand our son's condition better. There's no substitute for good, timely information--Parents everywhere need to be informed about SPD today! C'mon, we could make T-Shirts to commemorate the month! ("ASK ME ABOUT S.P.D." might sound a bit more inviting than "PROUD PARENT OF A CHILD WITH S.P.D." but I'm not picky.)

With your help, dear reader, who knows--maybe SPD could be the household word that ADHD once was; only this time, parents would be running out to buy shaving cream, trapeze swings and Moon Sand(TM) rather than Ritalin. What a wonderful, fun-filled world that would be.

Friday, June 18, 2010

sticks and stones

Last week some older boys called Danny a retard.

It was devastating. At least it was for me. Danny was more angry that the kids were not letting him use the slide; the name calling didn't seem to faze him too much. Thankfully.

But me? Well, I cried for more than an hour that afternoon.

I know no one wants to see their kid made fun of, but there is something extraordinarily painful to me about Danny being mocked for his quirks. I can't quite articulate it. I guess it is just a fear of mine that he will not be able to make friends or that other kids will be mean to him because of his differences.

I know this is a fear all moms have, but truly, this is different. Of course, I would never want Charlotte to be mocked, but I am pretty sure if she were called a retard, I would be able to brush it off much more easily and chalk it up to the stupidity of bullies.

But Danny being called that word hits home. Not because he is slow mentally or because he is intellectually disabled in any way. Actually, he isn't at all. Academically, he is right on target for his age, and above average in some areas.

Socially, though, Danny has some delays. Definitely. And he has quirks which can sometimes put others off. And having kids make fun of him for those differences makes me worry even more about Danny's future social life. I worry that he won't have friends and that he'll be lonely. And having some kid make fun of him for it just highlights that my fears aren't unthinkable.

Fortunately, that afternoon as I cried, I did something very smart. I called my sister. I knew she would understand. She loves Danny as much as anyone could--she has always been his defender.

She was as angry as I was, but then she gave me an amazing gift. She helped me not just see past it, but also how to turn this into a learning experience for Danny and Charlotte. And even for me.

Beth urged me to not allow Danny to become the victim, but to teach him that those boys were wrong. Beth tells her kids that when kids are mean to them, they should say, "You are being mean to me. When you are mean, I can't play with you. Friends are not mean." After that, they are to walk away and play somewhere else.

She advised me to point out to Char and Dan that those mean kids should never have said those things. The mean kids are the ones with the problem, and my kids should seek out friends who are nice. Friends, like A, who stuck up for Danny on the playground that day. In fact, A was the one who told me what had happened, and who actually told the mean kids' mom. A was so angry at what they had done to Danny that she couldn't let it rest.

So, that evening, I talked with Charlotte and Danny. I explained that the big kids were being mean, that they were wrong and that we should never treat people that way. I also pointed out that A, on the other hand, was a really good friend, and that she was the kind of friend the kids should seek out.

I don't know how much sank in with Danny. He didn't seem all that interested in the conversation. Still, it made me feel better. I know that this is just one of many times in which Danny will most probably be mocked for his differences. I also know that most kids get teased and have their feelings hurt many times throughout childhood. I know I sure did.

But now, with my sister's help, I realized that I don't have to just sit here and bear it. Instead, I can use these moments to empower my children, to teach them right from wrong and how to be a good friend. And I can teach them that they don't have to put up with people being cruel to them. They are not victims, no matter how badly their feelings have been hurt. They have the power to walk away and choose to make different friends.

Friends like A.

And friends like my sister.

Monday, June 14, 2010

saving face



There's a phenomenon in Asian culture called "saving face" which dictates that is really, really impolite to embarrass another person. People will go out of their way to avoid humiliating someone in public in Chinese culture. Typically, in Asia, people try not to laugh at others or make an embarrassing situation any more uncomfortable.

Before I went to Hong Kong to work as a missionary for my church, I received some training; we were taught some basic Cantonese language skills and Chinese culture and etiquette. Our teacher taught us about saving face and warned us to be careful, so we wouldn't offend anyone. "Especially be sure not to laugh at anyone in public, as harmless as the laughter might seem," the teacher warned.

I took this advice to heart and began my 18-month stint in one of the most amazing cities in the world. And I learned to really appreciate the differences and uniqueness of Asian culture.

One obvious difference between Americans and Chinese people is their stature. Typically, Chinese people are smaller framed than us Americans, and this difference was obvious in the bus seating. Bus seats that are supposed to seat three Chinese people leave really only enough room for one and a half American women, especially if those women don't happen to be anorexic fashion models. And the buses in Hong Kong are almost always crowded, so one is forced to squeeze into those seats regardless of how much more comfortable it would be to hog an entire seat yourself.

Riding a bus in Hong Kong was nothing like my experience with public transportation in Chicago. While the Chicago buses and trains were often very crowded, it wasn't too difficult to remain upright since they rarely took any turns. The bus route is a straight shot going from east to west. If you need to go south or north, you disembark and transfer to a different bus.

This is not so in Hong Kong. The bus routes snake all over the city taking wild turns and scaling mountains at breakneck speed. These double decker monstrosities are driven like they are contestants in the Indy 500. Still, the public transportation system there is amazingly efficient and by far, the best mode of transportation in the city. So, I spent a great deal of time on the double decker buses, trains and siu baas, which translated, means "small buses" or mini vans fitted with rows of seats.

One day, as usual, I embarked a bus with some friends. And as usual, the bus was somewhat crowded. I slipped into the seat next to Collette and tried to ignore the fact that an ample part of my rear end was dangling off the seat.

Because if it was one thing Collette and I had in common, it was that neither of us had the hips of a 13-year-old boy.

But, it was a quick ride to where we were going, so it didn't matter.

I chatted amiably with my friends when all of a sudden, the bus took an impossibly sharp turn without slowing down at all. I felt myself slipping off my precarious perch next to Collette. My arms flailed trying to find something solid that I could grab onto, but I only found air. Collette, brave, loyal friend that she was, attempted to rescue me. She grabbed fruitlessly for my arm, but my sleeve slipped through her grasp. As if in slow motion, I fumbled and remained airborne for what felt like several minutes. I finally landed uncermoniously in the aisle of the bus, at the feet of a Chinese businessman who looked down at me stoically.

And who then burst into laughter.

He was joined by just about every other person--both American and Chinese--on the bus.

Apparently, even Chinese people--who are so polite and anxious to help others save face--have their limits. I couldn't really blame them; the sight of my fat rear being deposited on the floor of the bus probably could have even made the Buckingham Palace guards smirk.


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This post brought to you by the Spin Cycle. Click here for more posts on a mystery topic. I, by the way, was assigned to write about embarrassment. As if you couldn't tell.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Got ADHD? It could be SPD....

I was at the pool the other day where I ran into the mother of one of Danny's old classmates. D was in Danny's preschool class, but is now entering 2nd grade. D's mom informed me that her son was recently diagnosed with ADD, but she isn't sure she agrees with the diagnosis. That's when I suggested she do some research into Sensory Processing Disorder, since so many of the symptoms are similar between the two.

She didn't seem interested, which doesn't surprise me all that much. SPD is not well understood by many childcare professionals and so most people haven't heard much about it. Some experts estimate that half of all kids diagnosed with ADHD actually have Sensory Processing Disorder, which says to me that even the medical professionals, teachers, and therapists don't understand the difference between SPD and ADHD.

I think this is a big problem, because many, many kids are going undiagnosed, which means they are not getting the help they need. How can you really help your child unless you know exactly what is going on with him? If your child actually has sensory problems, but his doctor just medicates him for ADHD, you aren't getting to the root cause of the problem, which I would think would just mean more problems down the line.

Part of Sensory Integration Therapy is teaching a child to cope with his sensory needs and eventually regulate himself. SPD is treated primarily with therapy in the form of fun games that don't have any scary side effects, like medicine can. (Some kids are also medicated, but that is only one small part of the treatment.) These are exercises that help strengthen a kid's muscles and improve his coordination. How could that be bad? It definitely takes time and doesn't necessarily have immediate results like medicine can, but in the long run, it rewires their brains so that they don't have as many sensory problems. This treats the actual problem, not just the symptoms.

I do understand that many kids need medication for ADHD and SPD. I am not contesting that. I just wish more doctors, therapists and teachers knew about SPD so they could help kids get the proper diagnosis and help.

Lucy Jane Miller, an expert on Sensory Processing Disorder addresses ADHD in her book Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder. She even has a very clear and informative chart that outlines how to tell the difference between the two disorders.

Here are some of the differences, according to Miller: (See Sensational Kids for a complete list of differences and for a very clear and comprehensive explanation of SPD.)
Acts Impulsively
SPD:
Can stop impulsive behavior if sensory input is sufficient
ADHD:
Cannot stop impulsive behavior regardless of sensory input

Extraordinarily Active
SPD:
Crave activity that is specifically related to sensation (usually vestibular and sometimes proprioceptive
ADHD:
Craves novelty and activity that is not necessarily related to specific sensations

Seems Disorganized
SPD:
Looks more organized after receiving intense sensory input
ADHD:
Does not become more organized after receiving intense sensory input

Lacks Self-Control
SPD:
Touches, pulls, and/or pokes people or objects; frequently seems to need more tactile input than most children
ADHD:
Tends to talk all the time, impulsively interrupting; has trouble waiting turn in a conversation.

Has difficulty focusing attention
SPD:
Often in a daze; seems not interested in material enough to focus on it
ADHD:
Interested, but makes careless mistakes; focus gets diverted easily

Does not follow directions well
SPD:
Unaware of directions being given; has trouble discriminating sounds or has difficulty with motor planning and thus appears to be not following directions
ADHD:
Gets started, but has difficulty remembering or following through on a long list of verbal directions; no motor component contributes to difficulty with directions

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I highly recommend reading this book, especially if you suspect your child might have sensory issues. And if you wonder whether your child actually has ADHD or some other disorder, this book might be a good place to start.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Family Ties

My kids get their good looks from their dad. Their big brown eyes, blondish hair, and giant, winning smiles all scream, "Bil is my daddy!" One friend even went so far as to ask me if I was in the room when the kids were conceived. Looks-wise, they didn't inherit much from me, save the boys' wide feet.

Still, I think my kids have definitely inherited some of my traits, such as my bad temper, my intolerance for perky people first thing in the morning, my sweet tooth, and my propensity for tripping over a dust mite.

There is one positive trait, though, that my kids have that I take some credit for. It's their goofy sense of humor and exuberance for life. Bil, of course, deserves credit, as well; this is one gene we contributed equally, I think.

Bil and I have always been nerdy. And we aren't afraid to get excited about things. We both know we aren't cool, so we have no reason to pretend we are and act aloof or dispassionate. Sure, we may look like idiots when we are dancing around our family room, but who cares?

When Bil and I were dating, we spent much of our time having picnics, riding our bikes, taking walks in the rain, and making homemade ice cream (we made up some really cool flavors, too). We cooked up strange meals and wrote each other crazy emails filled with inside jokes. We watched kids' cartoons together. Bil even designed a pie with my picture on it made entirely from black, grey and white M&Ms.

Seriously, we are totally weird.

My kids have inherited our sense of adventure and goofiness. They get super excited about all kinds of great things, like going for a ride in the wagon, looking for pumpkins on people's doorsteps in the Fall, and passing school buses on the way home from school. They spent much of December and January staging concerts for us, performing Muppets and Charlie Brown carols with their maracas and castanets. They sang "The 12 Days of Christmas" loudly, joyfully, and dissonantly multiple times a day. In the summer, they dress up in snowsuits and hats and build snowmen out of pillows and blankets, and in the winter, they don their swimsuits and jump into lakes filled with couch cushions. And they love every minute of it.

If they see a caterpillar, Danny and Charlotte will be totally entranced and talk of nothing else until they happen to spy something else fascinating. Last night, the kids were spellbound in the living room when they spied a rabbit in our front yard. They concocted a whole genealogy and life history of this rabbit, who we then spent many minutes naming. The kids came up with all kinds of great names, and then we dissolved into giggles when someone suggested we name him "Puppy." Thus ensued a game of picking the silliest name for our little bunny.

I know that these types of silly games are normal for kids. That's what makes childhood so great. Still, I do believe my kids have a level of enthusiasm that is special; not all kids are as excited to see two geese with their six goslings as we did today on the way home from Meals on Wheels. Not all kids' faces light up when I suggest making and decorating sugar cookies. The excitement my kids show for so many everyday activities, like going to the swimming pool or the library is wonderful. And their ability to be silly and laugh at crazy things is a tremendous gift.

I like to think that Bil and I have contributed to this gift and that we encourage the kids to cultivate it. That maybe we set a good example for the kids when we play hide and seek with them or when we laugh at their crazy jokes and join in. Or when we tease them--as we so often do--by suggesting we make broccoli ice cream or meatloaf cake.

Let's just hope they don't morph into straight-faced, eye rolling teenagers anytime soon.

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For more posts about family ties, visit the Spin Cycle.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Tommy-boy and lessons on humility

I have to admit that when Bil and I decided that we would have a third child, I was filled with much trepidation. I worried whether I would be able to handle it all; feeding and caring for three kids, while also continuing to do all of Danny's therapy was an extremely daunting prospect to me. I worried that I was already neglecting Danny and Charlotte, did I really have the right to add another kid to the mix?

While it has been extremely difficult, the adjustment to having three kids was actually much easier than I had anticipated. We were fortunate in that Tommy was a very easygoing baby. He didn't cry an awful lot and when he did, it was relatively easy to ascertain why. While he didn't sleep through the night until almost a year, that was mainly due to my own inability to keep a schedule--we had many disruptions in those months including a trip to Nevada which messed him up. Once we finally stuck with it, the kid was sleeping soundly by the end of a couple of nights.

Weaning Tommy was a piece of cake, and even teething, though very painful because Tommy always seems to cut at least 3-5 teeth at a time, was manageable.

He was one of those mythological babies that I swore were an urban legend just to make new mothers everywhere feel even more inadequate than they already did.

Tommy was, dare I say it, an Easy Baby.

So, after 14 months, I think I was getting a bit complacent. Over confident. Maybe even a bit cocky. I started thinking that perhaps I had finally--after three kids--gotten a handle on this whole mothering thing. I had, at long last, figured it out. It wasn't so hard, after all. What was the big deal?

I had arrived.

And all that confidence and cockiness has come crashing down on me the last couple of months. I so should have known I wouldn't get off that easy.

That quote "pride goeth before the fall" comes to mind.

Lately, my sweet baby boy has been giving me a run for my money. First off, he has taken to protesting when I do something he doesn't like. Boy, that kid can get really infuriated when I take away a choking hazard, like nuts and bolts. That has gotten a bit annoying, though not at all unexpected. I mean, he is supposed to protest when he doesn't like something. It even says so in What to Expect the Toddler Years. It's a milestone, a developmental marker, proof that my kid is progressing on schedule, right?

Yeah, that's not really making all the squawking and flailing and gnashing of teeth any less painful to my eardrums.

And it doesn't help that it appears that Tommy, my normally bubbly, sweet, friendly, happy little boy, morphs into a cantankerous, dour, and sulky old man in the mornings.

My mother must really have had those super powers she claimed as her own when I was a kid. All those times she proclaimed this curse, "I hope you have a kid just like YOU!" have finally borne fruit. I now have my ill-temper made incarnate in my little boy. Every. Single. Morning.

Let's just say I am not a morning person, and it would appear that neither is Tommy.

As I have said before, Tommy is a super sweet baby. He smiles a lot and giggles and squeals multiple times throughout the day. He's chubby and soft and wonderful.

Still, a couple of weeks ago, he inspired terror in me that far surpasses my fear of roller coasters or Norman Bates. How could a cute little toddler possibly scare a grown up that much?

Well, he ran out into the middle of the street when I looked down for approximately a millionth of a second. I have no idea how he got that far that fast, but my heart was arresting as I raced to pick him up.

A few days later, he did it again. But this time? Yeah, this time, he looked at me the entire time. He was watching to see what my reaction would be, and when I started towards him and told him "NO!" do you know what that little demon child did?

He looked me straight in the eye and smiled the biggest sly, knowing grin I have ever seen.

Yesterday really sealed the deal for me, though. What I witnessed yesterday left no doubt in my mind that the easy life was over for me.

I walked into the kitchen and beheld Tommy on top of the kitchen table. He had finally--after weeks of attempting--figured out how to climb up on the kitchen chair. Then, it was a small hop over to the table and he was in baby Paradise. On that table was everything that had been verboten. All the newspaper I didn't want him to tear up, the Legos Danny didn't want him to swallow, all the drinks I would have preferred he not spill, all up on the table.

After all, until that moment, I had assumed the table was the safety zone. I stashed anything of importance on the table confident that it would be safe from Tommy's sticky clutches.

No more. Now, I will have to find much better hiding spots.

The problem is, Tommy is evolving. And he's smart. It won't be long until he realizes the potential of extrapolating this newfound skill. Soon, he will realize that if he can use the kitchen chair to climb up on the table, the same can be said for the kitchen counters, the stove and any other previously off-limits area.

I was not ready for this. I thought I had more time. Danny and Charlotte were much older when they acquired these skills. Which says to me that I am so, so screwed.

Of course, it is all my mother's fault. All of it!