W's Busy Weekend

I guess it was a busy weekend all-around, but we did take W to more events than he's been used to. Come to think of it, it hearkens back to the good old days when he would sleep in the sling, and we could take him anywhere. The difference now is that we have to be home for both his naptime and bedtime for his little life to run smoothly. He'll only sleep in the sling when he's completely exhausted, so it's a last resort; it's better for everyone if he's home (or at the very least in our quiet car) for his nap.

Saturday morning I took W to the UVA Children's Hospital Walk-a-Thon. We left the house around 8:30am, and arrived just in time for the walk at 9am. I started down the path for the 1/4 mile "Wee Walk" with him, but he was so distracted by the toys scattered along the side of the path along the first 50 yards, that we pretty much just stayed in the grassy area within 20 yards of the start. It was fine with me, I went to help raise awareness for the hospital, but I brought W since I thought he'd have fun, and I didn't need to be motoring along the walk to make a difference, I just had to be one of the hundreds of people wearing T-shirts. T was at the farmers' market for all of the walk, but joined us later for the NICU patient reunion. W and I ate our lunch back around the Wee Walk play area since I didn't recognize any doctors or nurses elsewhere, there were no signs indicating where the reunion was, and it was both quiet and shady near the Wee Walk. Plus, the volunteer organizer gave us a baby hula-hoop and beach ball to take home since the kids from the walk had all left. That was nice, W liked shaking the hoop to make it rattle, and was fascinated with the beach ball. The beach ball is a real-life incarnation of a ball he loves to find within the pages of the book One More Bunny.

After we ate, I took W to get his face painted, since I saw a table for that behind the food tent. As it turned out, the face-painting was part of the reunion events (which were separate from the walk events, it was not clear to me from the invitation that that would be the case). W sat surprisingly still as a teenage girl painted a little blue fish on his cheek. But then, W sat surprisingly still for his haircut earlier that morning, too (I used the graduated comb to trim up around his ears, and W was sitting still enough I took the guard combs off completely to trim up the hair at the nape of his neck). T came directly from the market to join us at this point.

There were quite a few different things for W to play with at the reunion picnic. Plastic pools filled with balls, a fishing game, a modified ring-toss. W didn't really play anything, but he would pick up various items and wave them around, which is for the most part, how he plays with most toys. Oh, or he'd take things out of their containers and/or put them back into their containers, or sometimes into other nearby containers. He does a lot of that, too. Terry saw one of W's doctors and had a short chat, although I never did run into him. Neither of us saw any nurses we recognized, despite having been through quite a few shift changes and having met over a dozen different nurses last year. I dropped off a photo of W from his time in the hospital and one from his first birthday for the reunion scrapbook. That's a nice thing they put together, I guess it's to lift the spirits of the nurses and doctors who couldn't come out to the picnic. All they get to see are sick kids all day every day-- as soon as the kids are well, they go home. I'd say about half of the kids at the picnic looked like completely normal kids, and the other half like they might have some developmental issues (yet it didn't seem to affect their moods, they seemed as cheerful as the other kids). We didn't stay too long, as soon as W started fussing, we took off. We didn't see the couple with the preemie twins who were at the hospital the same time as we were, but I'm not sure I'd recognize them a year later, out-of-context anyway, even if they were there.

After W napped, I took him to Mint Springs. It's our local beach, a nice swimming lake just 10 minutes from our house. W loved swimming! I haven't taken him swimming anywhere since last August, so I'm not sure he remembered, but he found it deligtful now. When I carried him into the deep water and held him so he could "float" through the water in circles around me he just laughed in delight. That was going so well, I re-trained him to go underwater.

I say, "ready, set, GO" and at the same time take an exaggerated deep breath, close my mouth and hold it, then shut my eyes and go underwater. It took W a few tries to remember what he was supposed to do, but he never cried or anything despite me dunking him with his mouth and eyes open. Personally, I think it makes a big difference that we go to a lake instead of a pool, because there are no chemicals to sting one's eyes or lungs or anything. By the third dunk or so, he was holding his breath and shutting his eyes before going under.

Floating on his back was not as comfortable for him. The first time I tried, he squiremed and thrashed to get upright. The next time we went in and I tried, he relaxed enough to lay flat, but he was still very tense and not enjoying himself. It could be also that lying on his back puts the sun shining right in his eyes, and he doesn't like that, and he's too nervous about floating on his back to relax with his eyes closed. I wasn't concerned, we've got all summer to work on this, but I bet he'll be fine the first overcast day without too much sun.

W also loved playing with all the sand. He loved it so much he ate a handful and I had to drag him into the water to clean out as much as I could with my finger. He ate a little more later that I just scraped out dry, and after that he didn't attempt to eat any more sand. Lesson learned, I guess. Sand is not food.

He got a kick out of wading through the wet sand into the water, now that he's walking. He did fall several times, and his face went in the water when he hit the ground. But he instinctively got himself up out of the water (kneeling), and never cried. Although after the falls, he did toddle over to me and cling for dear life, and I held him tight to make him feel secure. I'm very glad he's handling himself in water without much fear, and is not freaked out about getting his face wet. T was terribly afraid of the water as a child, and is still not really comfortable in water, so it's important to him that W not inherit his phobia. In this case, I think it's immensely helpful that T does not generally go to the lake with us, since I predict he'd act all nervous with W in the water, and W would pick up on that and associate water with fear. With me, it's just a fun place to hang out in the afternoons. I really enjoy getting in the water. I'm not much of a swimmer, technique-wise, but I'm competent and can get where I want to go. And I have no fear of diving head-first into the deep-end and swimming in water over my head. I do get tired, but I can tread water pretty efficiently if I need to catch my breath, and I also have an appropriate amount of body fat to float pretty easily, I just lie on my back on the water and hardly have to move at all to stay afloat.

I don't know when it will time to teach W to dive, but I'm pretty sure we don't need to do that this summer. Maybe next year, when he's two. This year I predict I'll be able to teach him to do a little dog-paddle, or whatever the first stroke kids should learn. I'll need to contact my friend who runs a swimming school in California. She told me during W's lesson last July, but I've since forgotten. I vaguely recall the doggie-paddle is NOT what you should teach them first, there is something better but equally simple. Maybe it's swimming underwater, I'll have to find this out. I've got a few weeks, it will take some time to get W comfortable enough with all the "parts" while I'm holding before he's got to do it on his own. You know, I'll have to teach him to kick his legs properly, move his arms, etc. And he'll have to master the holding-his-breath thing.

Most of our time in the water is just playing, so I just fit a few minutes of "swimming lesson" in here and there. Plus relatively little of our time at the beach is actively in the water, I don't let him get too cold before we go back to the hot sand to dry off and warm up. My personality is well suited to this very slow type of micro-teaching. T would probably get frustrated with the pace and try to teach W faster. Another reason I'm glad to spend beach afternoons with only the baby, leaving T at home. T doesn't know how to relax very well.

Today W was terribly active during Mass. There was no real fussiness, which was a plus, but he was restless and didn't want to sit in a chair. So I walked with him in the back room THE ENTIRE TIME. His little legs didn't get tired until the very end, which was fortunate since I prefer to go get communion wearing him in the sling, and by then he was just tired enough to rest in there for a few minutes. Still, after a short rest, he was able to walk halfway up the big parking lot to our car.

He napped reasonably well at home, then it was time to head over to T's friend S's house for lunch. Some friends of ours were in town for their college reunion, so we met them at S's. Plus another woman was there, must be the latest chickie S has his eye on. She was nice, but we never can tell how long each of S's new women will hang around.

W was a little less well-behaved at S's. Which is understandable, since it must be totally dull for a baby there, since there really isn't much baby-safe for him to play with. Once a storm started approaching, it cooled off enough outside we all could sit comfortably on the porch, and there was plenty for W to do then. He busied himself playing with a bucket of compost, and also a pile of dried leaves and twigs that had blown onto the deck. And I also kept him on his toes by squirting him with water from a water-bottle, and towards the end we let him eat two cookies, which W highly appreciated. Mmmmmmm, he said.

But there were no meltdowns all weekend, and relatively little fussiness. W is getting more robust about handling busy events-- he used to get overwhelmed easily, but that doesn't happen as much anymore. It could be partly due to the fact that I'm better at reading the signs and knowing when he's getting overwhelmed and I get him out of the situation before it gets bad, but I think a greater part of it is that W is becoming more worldly. As we take him out and he spends time with more people in more varied situations, he's gaining experience with how to behave, and probably more importantly, what to expect.

I've got both a dental appointment AND neurofeedback tomorrow, so I don't know that I'll have an outing with W until Tuesday at the earliest, so I'm glad we went a bunch of different places over the weekend. He'll probably be fine staying home tomorrow.