I’m really kicking myself for not posting last week.  All of my kiddos are back in school and life has resumed a somewhat normal, way-too-full schedule. Along with the new routine has come a bit of regression, so…in order to focus on some positive, I’m gonna go back a week.

Labor day was our last day of summer break and thus the last day our pool was open.  I tried to convince the pool manager to leave it open for the rest of the week so the parents could enjoy a few days of peace and quiet at the pool.  I even offered to sign a liability waiver since all the teenage life-guards would be back in school.  She didn’t think my idea was nearly as brilliant as I did.  So…I resigned myself to the fact that we must squeeze in every last ray of exposed-skin sunshine and game of  splash-Mama-in-the-face possible.

After I had everyone tucked in bed that night, I did a little unintentional reflecting.  I had promised Sofija’s teacher that I would type up a translation sheet of the Serbian words and phrases that she is still using.  As I sat down and began to type I could only come up with seven things.  Seven things!  Four months ago this child didn’t know seven English words. And now, other than the seven things I typed on that sheet of paper, she is using all English.  This realization is what led to my reflecting.
I have made an effort to capture each of the kids on video at least once a week all summer.  After typing up the translation sheet, I decided to see if I had actually captured their growth on film.  When I looked back to the first week of summer and our trip to Louisiana and Florida, I realized just how much Sofija has changed.  On July 2nd, we were swimming in Florida and she was terrified to have anyone come near her or to have water touch anything above her waist.  She would let out blood-curdling, I’m-being-kidnapped screams every time we came within five feet of her.  Yes.  People stared.

By September 2nd, she was spending her days begging to go “swooming”.

Taking note of how she’s progressed with her trust and communication gave me some peace about sending her to school.

Kira catches the bus at 6:20am and since the girls share a room, Sofija was up and screaming “Let’s go to school!” before the sun was even shining.  All that reflecting the night before kept me up till after 1am.  The pre-dawn screaming did not amuse me, but it did drag my sleepy butt out of bed.  The teenagers were too cool to have their 1st-day-of-school pictures taken.  Since I hadn’t consumed enough caffeine to operate a camera before they left, I guess it really didn’t matter if they were willing to play along. My two precious little stimmers don’t go to school until 9am.  By that time, I’d consumed a pot of coffee, brushed and re-brushed Sofija’s hair, claimed all God’s promises for them to have a peaceful day, and made myself look somewhat presentable.  (There was no way of being certain that either of them would do okay when I dropped them off and I wanted to make sure I looked decent if I was going to spend my day at the elementary school.)

The stimmers did fine.  The Mama bawled like a baby.  The Tata laughed at the Mama.

In the three hours of waiting for her first day of school, Sofija alternated between demands to leave for school and pleads to go ‘swooming’.  Before I walked out of her classroom, I looked around and realized that a song had been stuck in my head all morning.

I hadn’t admitted just how sad I was about her going to school.  I should have had four years to prepare her.  I was only given four months.  I have felt a little cheated and a little down.  I tried to stay busy all day and reminded myself over and over again to “Just keep swooming.”

The team of people caring for my two babies is absolutely amazing.  I can’t say enough about how compassionate and caring they have been as we all try to figure out how to structure Sofija’s school day.  Their awesomeness made it just a little harder to swallow when I arrived at the end of day one to learn that my precious baby girl had bitten one teacher’s arm, ripped a handful of hair from the head of a second teacher and left a half-dozen nasty scratch-marks across the chest of a third teacher.  On a positive note; the only peer-damage was when she pushed down a boy who took her basketball.  After all the apologies to the grownups, I’ve decided that the boy probably had it coming.

On Friday I met with Sofija’s special-education team.  We all agreed that the day is just too long for her.  On Labor Day she took a two and half hour nap and on Tuesday she went to school from 9am -4pm with no chance to rest.  Before we got out of the building she was begging for bed.  She was asleep at 7pm that night and I had to drag her out of bed the next morning at 8am.  The pattern continued for the remainder of the week.  All the damage she’s done to her teachers has taken place between 1pm and 4pm.  We used that as a cue and agreed to cut her days in half.  For now I will pick her up from school at noon.  If she does well, in a couple of weeks we’ll move it to 12:30.  Everyone at that meeting raved about my children and expressed their excitement to have the opportunity to teach them.  Thank you, God!

I left that meeting with the knowledge that my prayers for my children’s teachers and schools have been  answered.

The weekend was great.  Sofija did tons of socializing, used ‘excuse me’, ‘please’, and ‘thank you’ with no prompting, and even blamed her sister for getting a spot on her shirt…”Mama!  Look!  Kira did that!”.

Then came Monday.

Since I started off talking about her regression, I probably need to document it.  Today has been a bad day.  With no warning, Sofija began speaking mostly Serbian.  She has used new words that I can’t find in the Serbian dictionary and that are clearly not English.  My lack of comprehension in what she’s trying to communicate have resulted in attempted bites and slaps.   Her stimming is out of control today.  She can’t stop shaking her hands or her head or flaring her nostrils for more than a few seconds.  She has squealed, screamed, and cried for no apparent reason.  She tried to beat the dogs again.  She was only at school for half a day!  I was so excited to have some alone-time with her this afternoon and she wasn’t able to leave her little world long enough to even notice that she had me all to herself. 😦

I attempt to apply Galatians 6:9 to the way I live my life every day.

So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. “

I often fail miserably, but when it comes to parenting I just don’t see failure as an option.  I’m holding on to the promise that I WILL reap what I sow into my children.  ALL of my children.  Even the precious little stimmers.

I will not quit.  I will not give up.  Tomorrow will be a new day.  And no matter how long the regression hangs around, I’ll just keep swooming.

7 thoughts on “swooming

  1. Amy

    her swimming is really great. School will come. AV bit her teacher at school too, I had no idea what to say to that. The sensory overload, the new people, situation, she’ll get use to it, give her and you time. The school sounds great so that is good. So ironic, we just keep singing the exact same song, just keep swimming, just keep swimming! School is exhausting!

  2. Julie


    Great to see you today- thanks for lunch. As you were leaving, I was thinking that you have one of the most beautiful generous hearts of anyone I know. God has entrusted you with much because you live such a surrendered life. You are an incredible mom! As always, love reading your blog….

  3. Grief….This is another stage of grief! She had a loss, (life as she knew it in Serbia) had settled into life, and now a whole new change again. The life she just settled into and gotten comfortable with is suddenly gone. It’s another loss for her, and she has to grieve that loss. It won’t last as long as it did, but go back and do what you did the first time around, assuring her that you are there. Make a picture schedule for her, so she knows exactly what the schedule will involve. Go over it with her at night before she goes to bed, and again before she leaves in the morning, have an EXACT copy of it at school so they can reassure her at school too. She just needs to know EXACTLY what is happening in her world right now and that nobody is going anywhere, it’s schedule to the days.

  4. rachel

    she looks so good!!!!!!!!! her little tan and big smile…so lovely… and her swimming is great!! so much progress! you will make it through the regression. hang in there and just keep swimming!

  5. Shelley

    Yes…a long obedience in the same direction, as a friend of mine used to say. That’s exactly where I am with my little “stimmer” this fall. Awana night, homeschool co-op day, they all are kind of like long therapy sessions with me in the therapist position. Exhausting! Yet so worth it.

  6. kim

    Oh my- I understand about the EEg’s and MRI’s and hitting and biting, screaming etc. Our lovely Serb has exhibited these and more. Be brave and see these trials as hard-earned jewels…

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