Saturday, May 21, 2011

The journey to Manhood starts at age 5...

Well, at least it does for my son...

I think everyone can agree that graduation is a right of passage and even though it was only preschool, graduating to kindergarten is a huge milestone for Phoenix. Because of his speech delay, we weren't sure if he'd be ready for it; he's progressing, don't get me wrong, just slowly. Even though I can understand most of what he says, I can't still struggle sometimes and I can't play translator for him anymore. He has to learn to fend for himself and he's getting there. Honestly, a lot of his WORDS are intelligible; it's when he has to build sentences and paragraphs that everything breaks down.

He's learning the difference between "no" and "don't", "me" and "I" or "mine". The alphabet trips him up and some letters just don't come out right; "h" is impossible. He just completely ignores it, when you put in a word, like the letter isn't there; 'Hulk' comes out "Ulk", "Happy" turns into "Appy", "House" becomes "Ouse". He knows the 'h' sound and when prompted to make it on its own, he'll do it but when you put it at the front of a word, it just disappears... He's easily frustrated by our incomprehension and his own inability to communicate, which inevitably leads to tears, temper tantrums and more frustration.

But steadily, he's grasping it; slowly mastering a sound or a word. You can almost see the little gears turning; his little tongue fumbles around and you realize how hard it is for him to get each word out and how hard he's trying for just that smallest bit of communication. I can understand almost all of what he says but I know if it's this hard for me, he has to be under some extreme stress & anxiety. We have regular conversations every day and I try to ask him new questions along with all the usual "How were your day"s; I'm surprised by his answers sometimes and even more surprised by the random sentences he recites perfectly like, "Do me a solid, Mom and get me some water." NO. SHIT. Those words came out of my kid's mouth, in that order, in PERFECT CLARITY and all I could do was hug him and laugh. 'Moms don't "do" solids', I said, as I tried not to bawl my effing eyes out.

He had a really good phone call with Jay when he was out in Utah; it's harder for Jay because he's out of the house so much and I tend to play translator at home more than anywhere else. Shame on me, I know...Hearing them have a real conversation over the phone was so awesome; Jay would ask him about his day and he would answer. Jay repeated what he heard and Phoenix would say, "Yeah, Dad."

We're still not sure if kindergarten will mean a speech class or a "normal" class but it doesn't matter; knowing his teachers (all SIX of them!) think he will be ready for kindergarten at all is good enough for me. It helps change my perspective; I look more at what he's accomplished and less at how far he still has to go. I realize how important it is for me not to feel rushed because if I'm frustrated, he'll pick up on it and stress out even more. As long as we can keep it light and happy and fun -- much easier said than done, with a five year old -- I think things should breeze along.

Phoenix & Paxton, enjoying a much-deserved post-graduation ice cream cone

So congratulations, Phoenix! You're an amazing kid and I am so incredibly proud of you.


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