Sometimes, I feel so guilty about D. From the moment he was born, all he’s ever known is a life that revolves about his sister’s therapy schedule. Every afternoon, starting at around 2pm, he is cooped up with me in our house (or sometimes our backyard) while E receives in-home ABA services. I think back to E’s toddler years when she was the same age that D is at now and I remember we’d spend entire afternoons at the park or at a baby-friend’s house for playdate. We’d go run errands together or just enjoy being outside with our toes in the grass. Sometimes we’d stay home and have a lazy day, watching cartoons in our jammies and spilling Cheerios in the crevices of the couch. They were blissful and sweet days we spent together and I feel like D is getting a little bit robbed of that.
Of course, we do still spend tons of time together and when the weather is nice we go out into the yard almost the entire afternoon so as not to bother his sister. We have the option to go out with E’s therapist and go somewhere fun (which we have done) but you know, it’s just somehow not the same when you’re being accompanied by someone else. When winter with its colder weather hit our area last fall, I resorted to iPad & cookies to coax D into staying in his room during E’s therapy sessions. Our house isn’t very big so it’s really easy to distract E if we’re out in the common living area (living room or family room). The one place we could be without bothering her was D’s bedroom – which isn’t exactly the largest room in the house.
After a few months of iPad & cookies, iPad & cookies, iPad & cookies, day in and day out, I realized that I’d set up a horrible routine for D. He would wake up from his nap screaming for the iPad and for a sweet treat to accompany it. I decided right then and there that we needed to break the habit, cold turkey. He’s 2 years old now so he’s entering that age that I used to teach back in my preschool days; I should know how to engage him and keep him busy. His mind is a sponge at this stage and it was irresponsible of me to be filling it with Mickey Mouse and sugary goods every – single – day.
The weaning process was rough, I’m not gonna lie. He screamed and threw tantrums, and it was overall a pretty miserable experience for I’d say a good week or so. But now, I think he’s officially been rehabbed from his habit. He loves to build legos and play with his train table. Books and puzzles can hold his attention span for longer than anything on the iPad or TV. I’m working on teaching him the alphabet, colors, shapes, etc – all the things I’m sure he’ll be working on when he starts preschool later this fall. And there are of course still days when we pull out the iPad and cookies but those days are few and far between and definitely are seen more as a luxury than the norm.
I’m so excited to see his curiosity blossom as his learning grows. Even though this portion of his childhood may look different than his sister’s did, it’s still precious & unique to him. And I’m trying to soak up as much of it possible because he’ll never be this adorable, chubby, little 2-year old again. <3