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After being told I would never be able to have children, I am now a stay-at-home Mommy to Maddie who happens to have Down Syndrome. I've been married 16 years to my best friend, having the time of my life. Thanks for stopping by and sharing in our little journey through life.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Building Blocks and Other Foundations

Did you guys know there are developmental stages of block play?
I vaguely remembered something about this in college.

When I watched Maddie playing with her blocks the other day, I was curious so I looked it up.
Who knew?!

She's at stage 3, in case you are wondering.  
And according to this very-scientific-truth-because-it's-on-the-internet blog post, Maddie is only a year behind her peers! :)
Stage 1 - carrying them around

You know me, I've never been too concerned with keeping up with developmental stages.  
I trust Maddie will do everything that's expected of a growing child, she'll just do it in her own time.  
But I have to be honest...
Sometimes I think she's so much like the other kids, I fear I may miss something.
Like overlook an expectation that may be just beyond her reach.  

Stage 2 - linear building
For example, 
is it normal for an almost five-year-old (well ok, we'll say almost four-year-old because that's where she is developmentally) to have trouble flushing the toilet? 
We've been working on this for weeks.  
My first adaptation in helping her accomplish this task was to use a fist rather than her finger, because I knew her finger wouldn't be strong enough.
I taught her to push down with a full fist.
But it's like she's not understanding the meaning of the word down.  
When she's attempting to flush the toilet with her fist, she's tense and I know she's trying with all her might but it's as if she's pushing towards the wall.  
Like pushing hard...this girl is strong, I tell you!
How is it that she doesn't understand the concept of pushing in the down direction?

In my mind, I guess I assumed all kids nearly 4 would have trouble, but I think the reality is this is one of the expectations that may be just beyond her reach.  

And I don't know how to process this.
I want to have high expectations for her.
I believe she's perfectly capable of rising to the occasion, no doubt in my mind.

But then as I take a step back and put things in perspective, 
I have to remind myself Maddie might have other issues going on. 
What if she needs an occupational therapist to work with her?
What if she doesn't have the fine motor control to finagle flushing the toilet?
What if there are things sheer determination and believing in rainbows and optimism just won't fix?

Proverbs 12:11
"A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense."

I'm not sure if expecting that she can do anything is fair or fantasy.

Of course she will eventually learn to flush the toilet.
Of course she will eventually be fully potty trained.
Of course she will eventually learn to dress herself.
But is is fair to assume she will learn to tie her shoes?
Is it fair or fantasy to assume she will learn to read and write her name?
Is it fair or fantasy to assume she will be able to live independently, have a job, and be self-sufficient?

It's tough because I want the very best for her and I want her to succeed and hold her own.
But I have to be careful not to project my dreams and desires unfairly on her.  
I have to accept and love her for who she is, and not always focus on who she will become.  

Proverbs 27:12
"A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions.  The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences."

I think in building this foundational value that we set high expectations and hopes while carefully recognizing limitations now, we will hopefully parent her in the best way possible.  
It's hard, and honestly sometimes I wonder if I'm up to the task.  
But we stretch ourselves and grow for the benefit of our children, so that we can build the best life for them.  

I wonder if there are stages of development for parenting as well as block building...

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