The thing about having a passel of kids is that at any given point I will be bogged down with worry about at least one of them. I guess it's possible that even if I had only one child, I would still fret constantly and by having four I simply have managed to spread my neuroses about. Ah well, at the least now they can qualify for group therapy. I hear it's cheaper.
For the last couple weeks the primary object of my worry has been Ben. Oh, not just Ben, of course. His two older siblings, just by nature of their ages regularly provide fodder for my angst. But Ben is the one who has been keeping me up at night. Some of his old nemeses that have refused for years to go quietly into the night have once again taken a front row seat in our lives. Any eating progress he may have made in the last two years seems to have virtually disappeared in the last six months. He has grown weary of the handful of table foods he would accept and his diet has returned to primarily crackers, applesauce and babyfood. Yes, babyfood. Just when we thought we were nearly free of the stuff, it's made it's way back onto the grocery list.
And I loathe it. The quiet embarrassment of defeat just at piling it into my cart, as if some acquaintance may happen by, forcing me to confess that the food is not for a baby at all, but for my almost 5-year-old. The glass jars lined up in rows on my kitchen counter. Dumping the sludge into the same tiny plastic bowls long ago stained orange like Ben himself was for years. Even his triumphant cries of "I ate it all, mom!" ring of failure. The failure of years of therapy and pleading, bribing and punishing that has somehow only managed to bring us right back to where we started.
And then there are other things. Smaller, probably even insignificant, things that seem large in the light of that one glaring failure. A sudden onslaught of bathroom related accidents- underwear and clothing found hidden or stuffed in the hamper. Handwriting that seems noticeably behind that of his classmates. Tears, still, every time we wash his hair. These things collectively giving me a nagging feeling that somehow we haven't done right by our sensitive, kindhearted boy.
Lately, he has taken to singing a new favorite song, "Kindergarten, my hearts on fire for Kindergarten" to the tune of Elvira. An adorably funny and happy song they are working for his preschool graduation. It cracks me up every time. But at the same time it makes my heart catch in my throat. Kindergarten. Next year, he is going to kindergarten. And I wonder if he is ready. I waver on this decision daily. Will he thrive outside of the comfort and familiarity of his tiny preschool? Will it help him to take the necessary steps forward or will it only make him more conscious of his differences? Will he become frustrated? Will he feel less?
Logically I know that this is just what we do. It's part of our wiring as mothers to worry about our children. I know that I was concerned about this step for the older two as well. I know that it is normal for us to wonder how how well we have done our part to prepare them, to fear that that it hasn't been enough, to wish for their success. Logically I know that to want to lock their hearts in a box to keep them from ever being stepped on is normal, but unhealthy and ultimately imposible.
Logically, I know that just because he doesn't eat doesn't mean he won't be just fine in school. That one thing doesn't in any way predicate the other.
I know these things. I say these things. My mind even believes them to be true. But, this mama's heart, it's just not convinced.