Saturday, October 4, 2008

Day Care, Part 2

Both Sun and Raine are now attending “school” part time. How did that all come about and how much does it cost? How is it working out so far? Today, I’ll blog about Raine, and the next blog will be about Sun.

Raine is a Lake.

I’ll answer the last question first. So far, so good. Raine, who is now 20 months old, has shown great physical and mental growth in the last several weeks. She stands up, she cruises, she walks with help. She still scoots but she's starting to crawl. She's actually doing this wierd combination of the two. She's communicating better, saying more words, and using sign language. She can say “eat,” in both English and sign language. She can say "more" in both. Raine likes to eat, eats a lot, and eats just about anything. She’s like Mikey. On the daily report from her teacher, under snacks it says, “Ate it all." So it's not surprising she's mastered those two words.

Raine is attending an Early Intervention Program at a school run by
Easter Seals. She goes to "school" four times a week, for two and a half hours. She is in a classroom with a half dozen other students who are all slightly older. She hardly ever cries, and she plays well with (or around) the others. She gets speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy from specialists who come to her classroom. The school is housed in a beautiful new facility, with a youthful and friendly staff.

And it is all paid through the local "
Help Me Grow" program, which identifies children with delays and helps get them enrolled. The goal of the EIP is to help children with mental or physical delays overcome as many as they can before age 3. It’s a wonderful goal, and it's made possible, believe it or not, through the "No Child Left Behind" legislation. (However, there are massive waiting lists because of insufficient funding.)

I used to wonder if Raine was mentally delayed. Not just because she wasn’t walking and talking, or that she was an extreme preemie, which increases the chances of a child having mental retardation. It was, also, a certain expression she showed sometimes, a look in her eyes that said, "I'm just not getting it. Life is confusing. I don't want to THINK about it!"

Raine’s eyes are so expressive and dramatic. They are big and brown, and her lashes are thick, long, and curled. When she first came home from the hospital after being hooked up to oxygen, feeding tubes, and monitors in a NICU for the first three months of her life, she looked at us with mistrust. As if she were saying, “Okay, how attached do I get to you before the next shift comes in and takes your place?” I would tell her over and over that she was home now. She could relax. But Raine definitely had a “wait and see” approach. I thought she had a problem forming emotional attachments.

Gradually, though, she began to trust us. Gradually, she began to know she belonged to us and we to her. Her eyes no longer showed suspician. Instead, sometimes, I found a look of incomprehension, that vacant look you get when you're asked a question and you don't know the answer.


I no longer see that look in Raine's eyes. Since she started school (actually, a couple of weeks before that), that vacant look has been replaced with curiosity , discovery, and devilment. Her expression says, “What is that? What can it do? How does it taste? What happens if I push that button? What happens if I push it again even though Mama said not to?"

Her teachers report, "Raine had a wonderful day." Perhaps they say that about every child to keep you coming back. But I see the “wonder” in Raine’s eyes now.

One morning I was still sleeping when Sun came to my bed and said, “Raine is a lake.”


“Sun?” I said, through my sleep fog.

“Mama.”

“Yes, Sun.”

“Raine is a lake!”

“A what?”

“A lake.”

Sun pronounces his W’s as L’s.”

“A lake. Raine is a lake,” he said.

“Ooh,” I said, “awake. Raine is awake.”

“Yes,” Sun said, “a lake.”

That’s what I see in Raine's eyes now. She’s awakened from her preemie fog. It’s exciting to see, and I can’t wait to be a part of what’s to come.



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