Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Unforgettable but Frequently Forgotten Kid Q

Kid O's younger sister, Kid Q, is my magical child. I had given up on the idea of Kid O having a sibling when it was confirmed that Kid Q was growing inside me. I laughed. I was 42. Shortly after my 43rd birthday, Kid Q was extracted from me via a second c section. Kid Q was a propaganda baby. She got up. She ate. She went back to sleep. Quite a change from Kid O's intense babyhood. Kid Q is, in a certain sense my calm child, although that is at times misleading. When I needed to pick Kid O up to take care of her, Kid Q did not get upset when I put her down. Perhaps on some level she understood that Kid O had special needs.

Kid Q was pretty placid. That is, until she got her legs underneath her. Having dealt with a handicapped child, I wasn't prepared for that. She stood up one day and that was that. Kid Q is also very flexible and athletic. When she was starting to really take stairs, she used to pretend to lose her balance. Took me a few times to realize that was a game for her. Even so there was one time when she lost her balance. She was coming down the basement stairs to find my husband and me when she lost her balance and somehow landed in a big, tall box right by the stairs. She managed to grab on the top of the box and held on like the cat in one of those "Hang in there," posters. We raced to her, and she was none the worse for wear. I have no idea how she managed to have the reflexes and the presence of mind to do that. I am exceedingly grateful she did.

Kid Q didn't really talk until she was four. She gesticulated a lot. To this day she will wave her arm in front of my face to request water. Because she didn't really speak and given superficial characteristics, some assumed she was a Down's child. When she was evaluated for pre-K, she was labeled as having a "slight cognitive delay." This label stuck until last January when she turned nine. Now she is labeled as being learning disabled, although, what precisely is that disability has yet to be determined. I am OK with it because Q does have sensory issues. She is also emotionally and socially behind. Doesn't matter to me what the disability is, just as long as she is in a class that is right for her. She is not being wedged into a classroom with 34, 35 other kids, and that is probably half the battle. She is being given age appropriate work, and she is in a regular classroom for her morning reading class.

Back when she was in first grade, they tried to immerse her entirely in a class team taught by both a Special Ed and a Gen Ed teacher. I was told that she started to show signs of sensory overload shortly after lunch, so it was agreed that she would finish up the day in her old Special Ed class. I was disappointed, but I knew we had to do what was best for Kid Q. Then, after five weeks,they switched Special Ed teachers for that classroom. Shortly that the new Special Ed teacher was absent. I got a call I had been dreading. "Mrs. (real last name), Kid Q is in the principal's office with the assistant principal." My stomach lurched. "The Special Ed teacher was absent, and the Regular Ed teacher didn't know how to handle her." Kid Q had had an entire sensory overload meltdown. In front of thirty-five kids and one teacher, she stripped down to her underpants. She was going to to back to her old Special Ed room. No discussion. No passing Go. No collecting $200. It was for the best, I told myself, but I was mortified, all the same.

The following year her second grade teacher tried to have her included in a Regular Ed Reading class. "She is climbing all over the bookcases," I was told. We had a meeting. She was promptly yanked from the class. A month or two later, when it was determined she was more mature, we tried again. Different class. Different teacher. She thrived. I was relieved. This year she is once again in Reg Ed reading, and the rest of the day in Special Ed. Seems to work for her. I am hoping that, in time, Kid Q will spend more time in a Reg Ed setting, but, for now I am content that she is exactly where she needs to be. Overall her behavior has improved, and she is being a better listener.

Kid Q did not have a good start academically. Having Kid O as an older sister confused her. I imagine she reasoned to herself that since Kid O got her needs met without talking, why did she have to talk? Thankfully the principal of the school where Kid O was already attending, recognized that Kid Q would do better if she were in pre-K, and she pulled strings to make it happen. Once Kid Q was attending school, she took off like a shot. There was no holding her back. Suddenly this child who was only gesticulating and grunting was speaking to me in whole sentences. Not over night, but steady progress. She took to reading very readily.

I knew she was a creative kid. Kid Q is a prolific drawer. I have large folders of her drawings and other artwork from early on. A couple of Chanukah, Christmases ago, Kid Q took a toy kiddish cup and placed a tiny Christmas tree basket inside of it. She made two drawings of it. Both look like Art Nouveau. I am still astonished at how she decided to put together things as a model for a drawing. That never would have occurred to me. Technique will come, but no one can take away from her creativity and her innovation.

Kid Q also has rhythm. I would never tell her this, but she is never going to have the body for a ballerina. She has a slight birth defect of a concave sternum that affects her overall structure. Causes her belly to stick out, and, I am told, will later give her quite the cleavage. Her natural athleticism lends itself to a Gene Kelly style of dancing. Not a bad thing. I hope she gets to explore that in years to come. I wouldn't consider her graceful in a ballet sense, but she has a fine sense of balance, and her flexibility has earned her the nickname of Little Houdini. As her yoga instructor can attest to, she is a natural yogini. She could do the sleep pose long before she took a single class. For those who do not know what I am talking about, that's being on one's back with feet up against ears and arms coming through opening where feet are pressed together. (Apologies. Not being kinesthetic, I have difficulty describing physical and spatial things.)

When Kid Q was little she used to make up really elaborate dances. I have always marveled at this girl, who remains small for her age. Her older sister may be Little Comedian, but Kid Q will always be my Tiny Dancer. And she will always be my Kukla, from when she was a baby. Not much hair, bright red cheeks, and a very sweet demeanor. I have since shown her old videos of Kukla, and she loves it. Kid Q also bears an uncanny resemblance to my dad and to the rest of his family. My father died December 9, 2000, and Kid Q was born seven weeks later. She was named for him,and, whenever she makes faces I am reminded of him. Kid Q is truly unforgettable.

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