When I thought about things to keep Addie busy, I immediately went to crafts. She loves to draw, paint, write. I have workbooks and new pens. Paints and markers.
I have books – she LOVES to read.
We have new puzzles… though I think I underestimated her abilities.
On a whim, she decided purple was her thing… so I played Super Mom and scoured Lowe’s sales until paint went on sale, and we got her a purple she chose. I set up the time to paint (this weekend!).
But then things got weird around here, and it started to go downhill kind of fast. It started with the pieces- all over the house. Little white cotton balls. Pickings of her cast, rolled with such tightness, I could almost feel the tension in her small hands as they were pulled with the stiff fingers of someone whose brain was saying no but obsession wouldn’t stop her. I vacuumed them, and went to ask her what was going on.
And I saw it. Her lip was fat, and there was a whiteness protruding from the inside bottom. WHAT DID YOU DO? I don’t know why, but I was seething. She’s been tearing at her casts, picking her lips, chewing her clothes.
She stopped moving.
There wasn’t trace of movement from her chest, as she’d tightened up so much she stopped breathing for a moment. My heart was racing, and my body melted off the couch and into her beanbag chair. I cradled her head and she started to heave. I’m so bored. This is hard. I don’t want these casts. I’m so hot.
I knew people had been looking at her. Things were just hard. There is no other way to say it. Having casts on both of your legs is hard. So I reached out to a private Facebook group I made for close family and friends… and someone mentioned Legos. And then someone else mentioned them.
And at 7am my phone was ablaze as Auntie M. texted me info on Legos. Hours later, she showed up, arms full of different sets of Legos and Addie was excited. Not content or even happy- excited. And she chose a box to open: Moana.
We headed out for the afternoon to garden at her elementary school with the PTA, but when we got home it was almost a struggle to get her to settle and eat lunch- not typically a problem for us. She scarfed down her PB&J and some penne, and begged to be let down from the table where she quickly dragged herself from and into the living room.
The great Lego layout!
Typically, Sunday is my work setup day, and I really needed this time to get it done as we were heading to a birthday party, but this wasn’t just a thing. This was The Thing. She was excited, and I was, too.
We both laid down on our bellies, dumped all the pieces out, and opened up the directions. Immediately, she was on the ball, turning the book closer to her to pull out the pieces she needed to get started. And so we finished the spit over which a fish was cooking, “you can turn it to roast!” exclaimed my little chef. So we took a break to roast the fish.
Then we moved onto the waterfall, where we hid The Heart of Te Fiti. And finally we built her home, where we accessorised with the included banana and coconut bowl. And we played. So much playing.
And no picking. Or tearing. She didn’t chew her lips or clothes. There were no tears. She was happy. A new element to her was being built, brick-by-brick, literally.
We’d found our thing.
And it only took us 5 weeks… and a blessing from one of our closest friends. It took a woman who’s not only known Addie forever, but taught her, to know her learning best. To know that Addie isn’t 4-6, but 7-10. She read my vent as a cry for help- backed into a corner. Worried my babe was going to end up scarred for life, not just from her surgery, but emotionally from the toll this seemed to be taking on her typically independent little spirit.
A cry for help I didn’t even know must have been screaming from my text right into her understanding heart. From one mama who’s been there to another. Who knew that sometimes Legos are the only things that will heal the hands that cannot stop worrying. Cannot stop tearing apart physically, as the insides feel the same turmoil reflected to the skin.
So, we learned a lot of valuable things during this time, but the most important: easy and simple isn’t always best. It’s not about busy work, but about the challenge. It’s more than staying active, but keeping the mind moving forward. Forward thinking, as I encourage daily, is not just doing what you know but testing new waters.For us, that meant we really didn’t know our girl best. Click To Tweet
To my sister, for sending little things at different times, and always keeping Addie on her toes- but not literally. And most of all, for having the right words through every step of this process. Addie fell in love with the unicorn card that she sent… and that set in motion… a desire to update, not totally redo, her room! An absolutely wonderful distraction!
To RC and SF, for the American Girl doll who not only looks like Addie (and even has her own wheelchair), but really gives her the freedom to create stories using the dog, she named Rocket, and takes up her time. Aside from Millie’s Baby Stella, we don’t have much in the way of dolls with extra clothes or accessories. Our American Girl forces Addie to use fine motor skills with her active imagination and lets the hours tick.
To CT, for never giving up on ways to keep our girl amused- from books to activity chips, that we draw at random and lead us to a new activity… which always keeps her guessing! Knowing there were a lot of new books, adventures to take every week, makes our nights much easier to settle. And how cool it’s been to combat boredom by random, as I call it. Having a way to handle the repeat phrase of, “I’m bored,” is quite empowering in a situation that leaves us all feeling a bit powerless.
To the Dance Factory, for never letting Addie feel left out- even in the hardest hours of watching everyone else dance around her. She was included in the season announcement video, dance camp, and summer session- and has an amazing season ahead… her second of so many left to come!
To RMH in Delaware for having gifts for the kids when they leave. Millie chose a puzzle for Addie. At first, I wasn’t sure what she was thinking- in truth I thought she wanted the Trolls puzzle for herself- but this has not been the case. The puzzle itself is a unique shape and really makes Addie work to complete. It’s fun, with the classic Troll hair sprouting from the Princess Poppy image. And Millie is fiercely protective of this puzzle… as “it is Addie’s from her surgery”. Something about this specific toy option spoke to Millie- and, like I mentioned before, she knew better than me. The difficulty of the puzzle wasn’t a negative hurdle, but a positive distraction. Leave it to a two year old to just get it in a way that a 32 year old cannot.
There’s so much, SO MUCH, more that we’re grateful for. So many other people out there who are continually changing our lives… there aren’t even words for it. (Me at a loss for words?!) But I wanted to highlight, to announce, the things that have been absolutely life changing as we go through the rest of recovery. Bilateral osteotomies are hard on families, but when you have more information at hand as to handle all aspects of it- including recovery- it makes the days to casts off that much quicker! The guesswork as to what will keep her busy has been hard. Busy isn’t typical, in this instance… it’s had to be extraordinary in a way that I simply did not comprehend.Busy isn’t typical in this instance- it’s had to be extraordinary in a way that I simply did not comprehend. Click To Tweet
But that’s what our community is for, I’m learning. We, as parents, always do what is best for our children given the information and experience(s) we have, and then our communities are there to help fill those gaps without which we would inevitably fall through.
So thank you. To everyone out there who follows our crazy journey, from typical day to extraordinary circumstances, and everything in between.