Thursday, February 19, 2009


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.


slouching mom said...

Oh, hon. Every kid grows in his own time. He won't be eating baby food when he goes to college. You are a good mom, you really are.

(And my Ben is EXACTLY the same way about food. We just got his BMI from the school nurse. He's at the EIGHTH PERCENTILE.)

Lynn Stallworth said...

Us moms tend to beat ourselves up...A LOT! With the boys transitioning out of BCW, I find myself thinking "what next" quite often. Just when I think I have it figured out, I start questioning it. I wish I had a dollar for everytime I thought "what if we'd done this or that" and "should we do this or that." It just never ends. All you can do is your best and have peace in that. Nothing is perfect with this world, why do we expect ourselves to be? Just love Ben, that's something us moms tend to do perfectly!

Scott Gibson said...

I don't know Ben personally but I am familiar with the feeling of helplesness which comes with a child who is not in the 50th percentile of some description or another. I would strongly recommend the book Bringing Up Boys by James Dobson. While there are a broad range of issues discussed in the book, one imparticular about holding boys back a year, had a big impact on our anxiety about whether Andrew was ready for Kindergarten. I am certain there will be a day when you will be telling Ben about buying baby food for him at 5 and laughing. Your love and God's grace will overcome all obstacles.

Anonymous said...

Do you think maybe there is a connection between knowing he's going to Kindergarten next year and the refusal to eat food and the accidents? Maybe it's stressing him a little and that's why he's regressing to baby behavior?

I agree with the other moms. Don't blame yourself. Dobson's book is excellent. Since I home school I haven't experienced this issue firsthand, but my SIL and I talked about it a lot regarding her two boys. She and her husband decided to wait on kindergarten for their boys. For one reason or another they just knew they weren't ready.

You're the mom -- you'll know what's best when the time comes.

Chaotic Joy said...

You guys are very kind. If we do make the decision to hold Ben back, which hasn't seriously been discussed except in my head, telling Ben will be the hardest part. He is beside himself with excitement at going to kindergarten next year. When I asked him if he was scared he said "Mom, kindergarten isn't scary, it's awesome! And I get to ride the bus!"

Kyla said...

This makes me so sad for you. I know exactly what you are talking about and it DOES eat at you (no pun intended). The tube has relieved so much of it, allowed us to step back, but still control things. She eats or she doesn't but we can give her what she needs. I didn't realize what a weight that was until it was lifted, I hate that you are under it. I just want to say, I know. I get it. It is genuinely difficult.

KayTar is in public school, though not kinder yet, and it has served her well. She is in a mixed of sped and mainstream classes and doing well in both venues, much to my initial surprise. I think it might be a good thing for Ben, especially if he is excited. I think you'll know the right thing to do when it is time.

InTheFastLane said...

I spread my worry among my kids too. The worst days are when I am suddenly worrying about all of them at the same time.

What a hard decision. It seems to me that if Ben is excited, that is half the battle. The step up to kindergarten seems soo huge, doesn't it?

Lori said...

His excitement only adds to the turmoil doesn't it? The possibility that he won't go, or that it won't live up to his expectations is so heartbreaking to imagine. I know.... I still can get weepy when I think back to the conversations we had last Spring with our boys about changing schools. It was terrible to know that we had a hand in causing them pain.

There is still a lot of time between now and September. So much growing to do in the months ahead. Oh, if only there were a crystal ball!!

I'm sorry you are worrying so. I know that mommy worry. Mine is over a different age, stage and issue right now, but I hear you.

spaz said...

I'm sorry that you are so very worried about Ben. I, like most mothers, worry constantly, even though I know God doesn't want me to. He must have designed a way that we can live life without worrying. We have to figure out a way to lay these burdens at His feet and allow Him to take them from us. If you want, I'll be on a mission with you to seek God about it. How, O Lord, do we live without worrying about our kids?

Lori said...

Hugs my friend. I do know that I pushed my youngest son to begin Kindergarten, when I probably should have held him back (I wanted to but hubby did not). What happened with us is that his reading was never where it should have been.

This began to really show in 2nd grade, then he fell behind even more in 3rd. We began Sylvan Learning Center, did all we could. Ended up getting him tested. Which proved he was a bit dyslexic. Then we moved on to private tutoring.

All of this was done with much guilt as a Mother and many tears of feeling like I did something wrong.

He is now in 5th. He is in ESE, (meaning he has extra time to take tests and he receives special tutoring). He is finally "catching up." He will always struggle with reading. But there is a nagging thought that if IF I held him back and he was one of the older child in the class instead of the youngest, maybe none of this would have happened.

Who knows we only can guess. And what slouching Mom said, "Every kid grows in his own time" is very true.

But I also take stock in a Mother's intuition!

Hugs my friend. (sorry so long_)

Lisa writes... said...

Having a passel of kids myself, I totally understand about the perpetual state of worry. Currently it's my #3 boy. Sometimes we just have to do the best we can and hang on through the rest!