Monday, November 25, 2013

counting my blessings - november 25, 2013

number twenty-five

i am thankful for an intelligent god, who created human beings in his image - intelligently. intricately. masterfully. i am thankful for a god who allows us teeny tiny glimpses of his work - a bit of understanding about brain pathways here, a snippet of knowledge about the brain/gut connection there, a peek of awareness regarding how play therapy and listening therapy physically change the brain's "wiring". i am thankful for a god of transformation.

i am thankful for how harrison has been transformed.

he finished therapy in july.

he started school in august. he did not adjust well to school. it was not easy.

in september i was sending full-on panic mode, frantic text messages to his occupational therapists with statements like "should i be seeing WORSE behaviors since completing treatment? he had his worst meltdown EVER today."

he seemed so angry. he did not seem like harrison. i wondered what in the world had happened to my sweet, quiet boy.

i am thankful for rachel ottley who, after deeper discussion, texted back this: 

"he should feel things deeply - frustration, anger - because then he will feel joy and love that deeply too." 

that was all it took. that one comment and i was all in. no more worry or fear about what was happening inside my son. i understood then my task was to help him feel all his emotions deeply, help him identify what each one was and deal with it in an acceptable way. the rest of september, october and even now we are working on this. 

we are seeing transformation!

a couple weeks back jeremy and i picked up harrison from school and actually ended up calling him a chatterbox! my son, a chatterbox? we were astounded!

i was equally as astounded by the number of circles of communication he had with my dad while in iowa. heck, i'm still floored at the circles he has with me. while at church the sunday we were in iowa, harrison and i wrote notes back and forth during the entire sermon. question and answer kind of notes. conversation kind of notes. keep them forever kind of notes. 

the other day i was lying on the couch and he came over to me and held my face in his hands for no reason at all except just to touch. he reached out and touched me and held the touch. it was powerful.

he's asking for hugs. asking for hugs! transformed, i tell you.

last night he and i gave each other zerbert kisses back and forth a few times. it tickled him and he had to "wipe off" the tickle each time, but he kept asking for more. astounded.

last week the boys had their regular dental check up. dental cleanings are hard for harrison but he's always handled it well. my hunch is that he does so well because his body goes into "freeze" mode rather than into "fight" or "flight". the same thing happens during haircuts. the stylists always (always!) comment on how still he sits. little do they know it's because internally his body is freaking out. but...during his tooth polishing last week he actually raised his hand to ask the hygienist to stop (before the appointment i told both boys they were allowed to do that). she gave him a moment to breathe and then he was able to continue on. i was pleased and surprised he was able to express himself by raising his hand. but there was one bigger lesson that came from that dentist visit.

harrison has never been able to have tooth xrays taken. the've tried each time for the past two years. he gags. he can't handle holding the little bite piece in his mouth. last week he was finally able to get one good, non-blurry xray! but it took him four tries. he gagged, he didn't like it, but he kept trying. our sweet dentist, after the fourth try, said there was no need to continue and praised harrison for what he was able to do. 

graham has never had dental xrays taken. they would have taken some last time had he not had the vomiting disaster. but anyway. last week graham was able to hold still for two xrays. he did it perfectly on the first try. it was easy for him.

harrison was not happy about this. while leaving the dentist's office harrison said, "ugh! i'm so frustrated! it's not fair that graham only had to do two xrays and i had to do four!" i explained that "graham was able to hold really still so his xrays weren't blurry but you kept wiggling so your xrays were blurry so they kept taking more in hopes of getting a good picture." harrison replied, "i hate that thing and i keep touching it with my tongue!" i told him that's exactly why the pictures were blurry.

this lead to a good conversation about how every person has different strengths and different graham's mouth is not as sensitive as harrison' god created all our bodies it's brave to persevere even when something is we can do hard things!

but that's not the point of this post. the point is this: do you know how awesome it is that harrison was able to 1) get frustrated 2) identify the emotion 3) verbalize why he was frustrated 4) deal with it appropriately 5) have a conversation about it 6) move on?

i walked away from that moment thinking wow! my son is frustrated because life isn't fair! that is just. so. NORMAL!


in november i am seeing lots of evidence that harrison's body has changed. i feel as though my sweet boy is back. but he's not quiet anymore.

i am so very, very blessed.


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