Tuesday, March 16, 2021

At last I see the light

A number of interesting things happened today. 

First of all, Benjamin woke up early this morning and immediately went outside to ride his bicycle around the cul-de-sac. He has finally, finally conquered the bike. We have been working on it for literal years. When we pulled the bikes out yesterday (for the first time in months) and Benjamin started fussing and whining and begging me to hold his seat and help me I nearly cried. 

The problem has been, it seems, that he couldn't focus long enough to complete the learning process. We have spent hours out there working on it, and he'll be seeming to do fine, but then he'll suddenly bail off his bike. He'll let go of the handlebars and just walk away from his the middle of riding then he crashes (of course) and then doesn't want to try again because...he just crashed. I don't quite understand why he does it, but I have a strong suspicion it has to do with attention deficit. 

I've declared him a bike rider several times in his life. He learned how to ride a two-wheeler bike (after months of practice) in Spanish Fork. But then we moved out here, leaving all our bikes behind, and it took us awhile to get "new" bikes (like, new-to-us bikes), and by the time we did he seemed to need to learn all over again. We worked and worked at it and he was doing it...wobbling his way along the walking trails at the park. But then he stopped wanting to ride again and when I finally convinced him to pulled the bikes out...

"I can't teach you to ride your bike again," I whispered with a huge lump in my throat.

It's just so defeating. It's not supposed to be this difficult!! It should be a bike. He should just remember how!!

But if it's that defeating for me, surely it's even more defeating for him. So I agreed to help him get started. It only took a few minutes of instruction—"Remember, if you want your bike to turn, gently twist the handlebars. Do not lean to the side because you will tip your bike over. Remember who's in charge of the bike. That's right. You are. You take the bike where you want it to go, not the other way around. How do you brake? Where do you look when you're riding? What do you do if someone's in your way?"—and a couple of "lift-off" well as some tough love ("No. I absolutely will not help you get started again. Walk your bike to the top of the hill and let gravity help you. Just balance, push off, and start pedaling. You can do this.") and he was off!

He even rode his bike around the block on our family walk last night, which he hasn't ever attempted to do (despite much encouragement). We're very proud of him, and just so, so happy that he's finally finding joy in it. 

One day, perhaps, we'll look into medicating him. He has loads of energy, but sports has been difficult for him because he can't focus long enough to figure out the sporting mindset (he loved soccer...but sometimes he caused some frustration from not being able to get his head out of the clouds; it's almost more true that he enjoyed, like, jumping in puddles on the soccer field while the rest of his team played soccer). Likewise, he hasn't been able to focus on so many things while biking (steering, pedaling, balancing, squirrel). I'm hoping that we can use biking to our advantage. I've seen several articles suggesting that exercise in general, and biking specifically, can help manage ADHD symptoms (results forthcoming, but an interesting theory nonetheless)...but have seen quizzically few about whether or not children with ADHD have more trouble learning skills that take coordination, such as bike riding. 

Maybe they don't. 

Maybe it's a comorbidity to ADHD, like dyspraxia. Which would be totally fine. 

We can work with that.

I know googling symptoms is "bad," but how do I know what issues to bring up with our pediatrician without wondering about and researching them first? So, on my list for our next appointment: questions about dyspraxia and dysgraphia (our doctor already knows about the ADHD thing, though she hasn't formally diagnosed Benjamin, and says she doesn't think we need to bother with that until we're ready to try medication, since he's not going to public school and doesn't need and IEP). But it helps me to look up these things anyway because reading about dysgraphia has given me ideas on how to help him feel successful as a writer, so even if it turns out he's simply a late bloomer...using the ideas I've learned about to help him isn't a bad thing at all. Same thing with dyspraxia...if I can use suggestions from occupational therapists on how to help children with dyspraxia to help Benjamin learn things (whether or not he has dyspraxia) then...great.

He just seems to have to work so much harder to learn things than other children do (which I think means he's a pretty cool kid, because it means he has a boatload of persistence).

Next up: we're going to officially learn how to tie shoelaces, another skill we've been working at for what feels like an eternity and another "clue" that he might have dyspraxia or dysgraphia (or both...or none); perhaps now that he's learned some needlepoint he'll be able to figure out his shoelaces!

A quick story about Alexander before I jump to our second interesting thing of the day... 

Last night when we were getting ready to leave on our family walk, Benjamin was on his bike and Zoë was on a scooter, so Alexander felt he needed to ride a scooter as well. But Andrew didn't know this, so he grabbed the stroller and said, "Come hop in the stroller, Alexander!"

Alexander's eyes welled with tears, but he put on a brave smile, and using his best negotiator's posture (waving his little index finger in the air) said with a quavering—but firm—voice, "You know, Dad, I wuh planning on widing my tooter today!"

So we let him ride his scooter.

As he was zooming along (going almost walking speed), he said proudly, "I feel better when I'm riding!"


Second of all, Andrew got his first dose of the COVID vaccine (the Moderna one)! He's feeling rather sore, but is otherwise fine. He'll get the second dose in a few weeks. It feels...hopeful. Like maybe we'll eventually get out of this.


Third of all, 365+ days after the world, for lack of a better term, turned upside down, our Relief Society has finally realized that maybe we should be having virtual activities. All year long (by the COVID calendar, that is March to March) they have been trying to gather in person. I felt like the activities were a little more frequent than what happened in reality, but here are the activities they have held in person:

June 25: gathering in park (no masks)
July 23: gathering in park (no masks)
August 27: gathering at the church
November 7: "Souper" Saturday craft and luncheon, inside the church
December 10: Christmas dinner at the church

They have hosted no virtual gatherings, which would be fine if they weren't making such an effort to host in-person gatherings. Especially when I remember how desperately I could have used some socialization when we first moved here...but after attending one meeting with our old ward, we didn't have another activity until Christmas 2019. And then we had an activity planned for February, which was postponed because of stake boundaries shifting. And then we couldn't have it in March, for obvious reasons. 

I am not sure why they've felt so strongly about meeting in person. It seems (from pictures and sign ups) that only a handful to a dozen people attended each activity. Everyone else, it seems, prefers to stay home. Because we're in the middle of a pandemic. 

But I've felt a little neglected, I'm not going to lie, that they have made such an effort to meet when they previously made little effort to meet. And I don't understand how it took them this long to think about doing a virtual we can see each other and meet the new people who've moved in. I mean, I guess we could be planning things on our they're making the effort to meet in person you'd think they could also make an effort to meet virtually. 

So today they ask for input on what kinds of virtual activities people might want since "many of us are still not vaccinated or not yet feeling comfortable with certain types of activities, but still want to socialize in the safest way possible." Like...I...just...can't believe it took them this long to recognize this as a viable option. 

Haha. Oh, wait. 

I completely misunderstood the email (I do that sometimes when I'm excited and I was excited because this was the very first time my feelings the virus had been validated not been downplayed). They don't want ideas for virtual activities. They want input on future activities that will allow us to be "as safe as possible" and my brain interpreted that to mean NOT BREATHING THE SAME AIR as everyone else.

Silly brain. 

So it's possible they were not expecting the suggestions they just got, which were lovely, kind suggestions (a "Sit and Stitch" hour over Zoom where we just bring a project and chat while working on our projects; an "Indexing Party" where we work on transcribing family history records either on FamilySearch or BillionGraves while chatting about things on Zoom; any number of Zoomable are some links for y'all). Haha. Oops.

But at least I took enough time after reading that email to vent my rage about "how are they now realizing that people just want to be safe?! It's been a year!!!!" so that my email was sweet and calm. 

I think the Christmas party scared them.

And it should have.

They met for dinner. And just a couple days later the bishop announced he'd been diagnosed with COVID. The bishop's wife had been at the dinner. Some elderly sisters had been at the dinner. The bishop got really, really sick. He didn't come to church for, like, a month. So I think that scared them some, as it should have, and we haven't had a meeting yet this year. But maybe...maybe...they'll consider doing a virtual activity now that I've mentioned it's possible?

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