19 July 2011 (evening)
It was hot today, although I heard through Ed, my contractor, that there is plenty of heat in Wisconsin.
From Ed: The furniture is out of the house. The movers ripped the leather on my leather chair. I suspect we will figure that one out but they are insured, so a fix is in order. The floor is sanded and staining tomorrow. Depending how that goes, the floors will be finished Thursday or Friday. Painting will begin Tuesday of next week. It will be Ed’s task then to get the bookcases built and in before we return. Can’t wait to see it all!
Early this morning Julia and I worked. We did strong sitting, and I vowed to do it ever day possible for the journey. She has much more control over herself with the sitting as a basis. Then we did some math work. She arranged her tiles up to 60 today and counted by 1’s and 10’s by herself. She is getting better at 2’s and 5’s. We did morning parade and she seems to get “between.” I am ready to introduce before and after. I had a few workbooks to do a third activity and she picked the word book and did two pages of beginning sounds.
We picked blueberries this morning and early afternoon. It was pleasant, sweet, quiet, work. No overseer or owner to even check on our work. We took pails out of the box, filled them, put the money in the same box, put the berries in the plastic bags provided. We picked two quarts to take to Lisa’s. We ate along the way -- sweet and tart, just lovely. Julia helped with the picking for a good deal of the time and then went to the end of the bush row to catch grass hoppers. She caught a green one and a white one. Was the white one a grasshopper? I am not sure.
Julia has eaten a good lunch for the last 3 days. Farm living? Also, tonight at supper at a Chinese restaurant, she ate like she was off medication.
We visited Karen and Bob, old time family friends from Jersey days, who are very friendly with Barb and Steve, and who now live in Virginia. I brought Julia’s clay which she has not touched since we left home. She had a good time playing with it for a few hours. Leeanne was with us again today -- she is a dear girl, attentive to Julia and sweet to the grownups. Still, not a creative bone in her body. She had no interest in the clay although she watched Julia in amazement.
Karen has become obsessed with her family tree and has been willing to share what she knows with me. She also translated some of letters written to my grandmother from the 1920 to 1959. There are not that many but they have been a mystery to me as they are written in Ukrainian and French. Karen has the ability to read in both languages which is lovely for me. I have long wanted to work on a family tree and as I go through the remaining boxes of the past, I can put things aside to help me with this project. It will not be quick work.
Interesting thing about Leeanne spending the time with us. Barb asked her to come with us for company for Julia. But to watch the two of them, you would not think that Julia cared much that another child was along. And a sort of almost ambivalence went on during the entire two days, and yet when it came time to say good-bye tonight, Julia effusively told Leeanne how much she was going to miss her. After leaving Leeanne’s house, Julia again told us that she was going to miss Leeanne and that she didn’t want to say good-bye. And then I wonder what Julia sees, what she imagines or understands about her time with other kids. Clearly, she wants relationship and in some way she imagines relationship. God, I hope she learns how to do it.
This is our last night in Virginia. We leave for Maryland in the morning. Back to internet service which I have missed. Yes, I am tied to the communication. But we leave this sweet and quiet place, appreciating the pleasure of spending time with Barb and Steve and their Virginia friends. A good time in the country, away from all that we are comfortable with, but certainly in luxury. And now, time for a late night soak in a very deep bath. Did I say luxury?
19 July 2011 (morning)
Elaborating on how Julia flounders at times during our days on vacation.
At the little natural history museum, there was a very interesting volcano exhibit complete with some sound. The sound was not overwhelming or even loud, and Julia had her ear plugs in her ears. Still, she planted her feet, covered her ears, leaned hard against me so as not to have to move, and squealed. It was behavior from two years ago (but without the tantrum which would have accompanied the fear). She would not move through or past the exhibit without a lot of coaxing and would not look at or learn about the exhibit. We were stuck time. All I saw was her terror.
We had a little girl of 12 with us yesterday and will have her todays as well. She is the daughter of Steve and Barb’s friends. Leeann is a sweet girl, very country, very sheltered, a bit spoiled in the manner that her parents have been very careful with her, kept her young, and she is not adventurous. She is very kind to Julia, and Julia accepts her company and companionship. Julia adds little to the relationship. She must be told to offer Leeanne a coloring book or to consult with Leeanne about a tv show. The relationship is one sided. I am rather awkward at these times. I am grateful that another child will deal with Juila. My impulse is to thank the child profusely. I want to do something to make the circumstance more entertaining for the other child. Juila appears to be pretty oblivious to the kindness and the friendship offered.
I am so used to urging Julia from activity to activity at home that I forget how reticent she is about moving out of her complete comfort zone. Left to her own devices, Julia would watch tv, play with her leapster or video games, play with clay or draw all day. I (and her line therapists) are constantly pushing her into different activities, and she pushes back a little bit and then transitions to the next activity. This is the reason for schedules, the reason we talk about transitioning all the time. This basic behavior, this desire for sameness and non-involvement, is exhausting. I can feel that I am driving this child on, controlling every move she makes, and her lack of initiative is frustrating. My eternal hope is that she will find the activities outside of herself stimulating and fun and will eventually want to do them herself, without my prompting. And sometimes, it appears that she is moving backwards -- I’ve had to help her get dressed all summer if I want her ready for our morning therapy. I renew my resolve to direct her each day, but wonder if I will have to do this her whole life.
On one hand, I am searching for the path to walk for the next years, my new life, and I proclaim that I am not looking for some ego gratifying task, not the glory road. I say I will be satisfied with the mundane if that is my lot. If I can find some joy and meaning and a means to deepen my spirit. On the other hand, I worry that Julia will always need me to push her through her days towards some learning, some experience, and to bed at night.