Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Victor update

Victor is in bed; down for a nap. And this is a good thing. It means I have 2 hours of hopefully uninterrupted time. Time to sew or read or do laundry or make supper or - well, to do anything without Victor. And to do so without listening to Johnny Cash

Yes, without Johnny Cash. I suppose the guy's okay but listening to him all day long can be a bit too much. I blame The Good Doctor for introducing the Little Man with Black Hair to the Man in Black. Now we have to listen to him constantly, identifying when he is singing with a guitar and when he is not. When we hear drums and when we do not. And if it's a song Mr. Victor does not recognize, then I have to answer the question a hundred times or more, "Is this Johnny Cash?" Yes, Victor, don't you recognize his voice? "Is that his voice?" Yes, Victor, that is his voice. It is Johnny Cash. And Heaven forbid that youtube switch us to June Carter Cash!

Don't get me wrong. We love Victor. I love Victor. But life with Victor is unlike life with any of the other children in this house. And yes, I do know that each child is unique. But for the most part, things have been pretty cookie-cutter. And this one is just more unique than the rest.

The other children learned pretty quickly that temper tantrums would get them nowhere. And banging their own head or biting their own arm during a tantrum would hurt so they would do it once and never again. Not this child. He seems to need the release of these self-injurious behaviors. I am open to suggestions but I can tell you that ignoring, reverse psychology, offering a pillow, creating a safe and cushioned area, picking him up, snuggling him, etc. do not work. Well, the last two keep him from hurting himself but then he kicks me so not necessarily the best alternative. Unless we're in public because most other people prefer to see a child hurting his mother than hurting himself. The reaction is far better if I'm being kicked or have a bloody lip than if he is banging his own head. Go figure.

I have potty trained 6 other children at age 2 and have been successful in the process (yay, me!). Yes, 6 of 6 are completely trained. Surprised? 1 came to me trained. Child #8, however, is now on Week 39 (give or take a few weeks and breaks for my sanity) with only an average of 60% success on a daily basis. I have promised my mother, mother-in-law, and the nursery workers plenty of rewards for sending him home trained but obviously no one is taking me seriously. And so I clean the pee off the floor. Again. Happily, of course. No, not happily, but joyfully. Because we do love our Mr. Victor.

We love his smile.

And his sense of humor.

His snuggling and his hugs and kisses.

And most of all, I think I love his conversations.

He used to always tell us he had a question but would usually follow-up with a statement. So Eden told him that he should tell us he had a statement instead. So now he tells us he has a statement. Usually it's something un-profound like, I am going in the den. Great, Buddy, and have fun. But now he seems to know the difference so I'll get a conversation something like this:

Victor: Mommy, I have a question to make.
Okay, what is your question?
Victor: No, I have a statement and a question. 
Okay, what is your statement?
Victor: I am going outside.
I don't think so; it's freezing outside. What is your question?
Victor: Are we going to a store?
No. Again, it's freezing outside and besides, your mother is an introvert and prefers to stay home. Is that okay?
Victor: Yes.

He also uses this tactic to make requests.

Victor: Mommy, I have a statement.
Okay, what is it?
Victor: I am having chocolate.
No, I don't think so but good try and thank you for being polite.

And sometimes he uses our methods against us in conversation. A few months back, he was having trouble with transitions (trouble is not quite the right word here, think: all out knock-down, drag out, self-injurious bang-fest). One of his therapists suggested that we use specific words like "first" (while moving his left hand in a downward motion) and "then" (while moving his right hand in a downward motion) so he would learn that what he wanted was coming but that first we had to do something else. So, it might go like this, "First (moving left hand down) we will put your shoes on. Then (moving right hand down) we will go outside."

It didn't take him long to figure out how this worked so he would use this to tell me what he wanted, "First we go to the pool. Then we go to McDonald's." Umm, no, you have me confused with your father. So he'd try another tactic. "First we put shoes on. Then we go to the pool." Ummm, no, still wrong. I'm not taking you to the pool today.

Cue temper tantrum.

But we're learning. Mr. Victor has some major sensory needs going on. Head banging and biting are obviously sensory releases for him but inappropriate releases so we need to find other ways for him to use his body and his upper body muscles in particular. He does enjoy the pool so we try to get to the YMCA a few times a week. Wearing a swim vest he has figured out how to float and "swim" and would probably spend all day there if we let him. He also now has a sensory area in part of the basement with his own ball pit, slide going into the ball pit, Hippie-beads in the doorway (he calls it his shower), a light switch he can reach and turn on-and-off to his heart's content (until a sighted person yells for light), a cocoon swing, a tunnel, and a rope ladder. Oh, and a padded floor to keep us all from having heart attacks at the sight of him taking risks with his gross motor skills.

So, Mr. Victor, keep on being you. You have been victorious and you will continue to be victorious. Thank you for teaching so much about faith and trust and loving through the hard.

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