I got on the phone with the head of the occupational therapy department at Max's school. I'd reached out because I was concerned that we hadn't yet found a firm solution for helping him pull his pants up and down. Max has made amazing potty progress, most recently staying dry overnight. But the fine-motor challenges make manipulating his pants tricky for him. Not being able to handle them on his own is impeding his toileting independence.
I've had ongoing conversation about the pants situation with the OT at school and the one who sees him at home. It's sometimes fallen off the top of my to-do list because....to-dos. Recently, at the suggestion of the school OT, I bought Max a bunch of sweatpants one size too large so sliding them down and up would be easier. He's mostly using his left hand (his dominant one) and managing to yank his pants down and then kinda-sorta up, but it's a struggle. His private OT recommended sewing on loops on for him to grasp. None of the adaptive clothing I've seen online has been right for him.
I strolled down the block, people hustling by as I said things like, "Maybe it would be a good idea if he had a loop to grasp just on the right side of the pants" and "I think the physical therapist should weigh in too." I listened at she noted how long it takes for someone to pick up a fine-motor skill—up to 5000 times of doing an activity.
To me, though, this wasn't a matter of Max needing time to ace a skill. He needed the tools. Specifically: a pants solution. "I want to be really clear, I know that it takes a long time to learn skills but what I'm saying is we need to come up with a definite approach," I said. And she said she'd check with the team and get back to me.
I hung up and felt the sun on my shoulders. I looked around at people on their iPhones and doubted that any of them were trying to figure out a pants approach. Or that they'd ever known from pants challenges in their lives or, for that matter, fine-motor skill challenges.
Mostly, I don't have have time to consider the volume of things I deal with for either one of my kids, and that's good because if I did I'd promptly keel over. Like most moms, I just go go go, do do do, make it happen happen happen. Those of us parenting kids with extra needs take comfort in knowing that a team of people are there to help guide both us and our child. And: COFFEE. We take comfort in coffee.
Then suddenly, you're walking down a busy street in the middle of New York City and having A Moment. Doubts swarm your mind: Why has this taken so long? This isn't fair to him. What about shirts? He can't put those on himself, either, and you haven't even given that much thought. Are you on top of things as much as you should be? Are you doing enough to enable him? What else could you be doing? What are you not thinking of?
But you can't go there. You will not go there. Because the answer is: You're doing the best that you can.
And you take a deep breath and head back in to work.