Monday, December 11, 2017

The Nutcracker

In utero, Little A was subjected to repeated listenings of The Nutcracker Suite in the first trimester as I drove to and from work. As a former professional dancer, it remains one of my favourites and is a staple on our music deck in the Christmas season. Even the staff at my shops love it, particularly the sole male store manager.

Fast forward to Little A’s boyhood, where he (through nature or nurture) discovers the love for classical music and orchestras. His anxiety and fear of new experiences have kept him from sitting in a darkened theatre, but he constantly watches orchestral productions on YouTube.

Last year, I took him to see an orchestra playing in a shopping mall, a familiar environment (I have a store there which he visits often) and with room for him to be active or noisy if he wished. He sat with eager anticipation for a full hour prior to showtime, and expressed disappointment that the orchestra lacked a harp and a bassoon.

The music was disappointing as they played only popular carols.

This year, The Nutcracker was on, and there would be an orchestra! I booked a box with the best view of the pit, assuming he wouldn’t watch the dancers onstage. He was brave going into the theatre, and made sure I kept an arm around him. But he sat, and to my amazement, thoroughly enjoyed Act I, watching the dancers and rooting for the Mouse King.

In Act II he lost patience, as did I, frankly, as the variations were extended needlessly to show off dancers and choreography that were not particularly stellar. Little A wanted to leave midway through Waltz of the Flowers, so we wandered around the theatre’s gallery section until the ballet was properly done.

Still, achievement unlocked! I was so proud of Little A, as were my parents, sister and niece, who accompanied us. Box 1 will be our seats of choice in shows to come. Who knows, we may end up with season tickets to the symphony in the future.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Life Skills

There are things everyone should grow up knowing how to do, besides being a decent, kind, polite human being. Knowing how to change tyres, light bulbs, and the oil in car are skills I sadly lack in practice, though not in theory. More basic ones, like household chores, are down pat.

Little A is little by little learning these small things, and already enjoys helping me at the supermarket and "cooking" his own favourite dishes. We still struggle with proper hair washing and tooth brushing as I need to do the final once-overs at bath and bedtime, but we will get there, I am certain.

Next up, allowing him to help me load the washing machine. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Puppet Shows, Singing Stints, and Selfie Smiles

Lately my son has discovered show business in a more personal way. His favourite YouTube videos these days are those of children who re-create and video their own shows. He has taken to doing the same, and was especially thrilled when I showed him how the "selfie" mode on the iPad's camera worked.

I may have created a post-millennial monster. Still, if it encourages self-expression, originality, and communicative expression, it is not at all a bad thing for a child with the kind of challenges Little A faces. So for now, we're going for it. He's definitely ready for his close-up. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Animal Adventures, Again

Among the things Little A has long loved are animals and musical instruments. Recently, we discovered that a nearby toy store, one we haven't visited in a long time, has opened a pet section! While at first he was scared to set foot inside the "pet room", by the second visit he was brave enough to take a closer look, and within a few more visits had taken to spending time with the animals, playing them classical music and watching them.

Sadly, in a couple of weeks all the pets had gone, either been sold or returned to the other pet store across the road, and the animal room had reverted to what it used to be - a storage area for pet habitats and furniture.

We will come back from time to time and check if the pets have returned. In the meantime, there are other places to see and things to do in the limited time after school, including the duck pond at the mall where one of my stores is located. No shortage of animals in the city, it seems. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Car Pools and Doggie Dates

Little A's newest "cousin" is of the four-legged variety. While not yet giving up hope on having another child (or two), my sister and her family took charge of a puppy over the New Year, and said puppy is now nearly a year old. He goes everywhere dogs are permitted with his human family, especially on weekends.

One Saturday at my parents' house, Little A and his cousins, plus doggie, got to play together. It was his first time to play with this particular animal, and the photos sent by my nieces show they had a grand time chasing each other around the house. It was very different to his interactions with our cat, and he seemed to enjoy it a lot, as did his new canine friend.

On the human interaction side, Little A now has a schoolmate to share the car with on Fridays after school. One of the mums asked if her son could find a ride to her office a few days a week, and I volunteered Fridays.

All new things require an adjustment period, and this was no different. Little A was used to calling the shots after school, on where to go and what to do. So as expected, there was whining and crying the first two Fridays. By week three, however, he'd gotten used to having to make a drop-off prior to his Friday after-school activity, and on week 4 we took the little boy with us to the shops while his mum was stuck in a meeting.

This little boy is quite the opposite of Little A as he is very, very verbal. I know Little A senses the difference when we are in the car and schoolmate chats nonstop about things we see, and what he is interested in. Still, he has adjusted well and knows he is paid no less attention to simply because I cannot hear him from the driver's seat. The other boy also adjusts to Little A's pace and interests. While I found it physically challenging to monitor two boys in separate parts of a play centre, it was managed, and when the schoolmate's mum came to collect him, we talked about doing it again.

I look forward to more play dates, whether or not the children actually play together. There is awareness, and consideration of the other, which is always a good thing.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Second Trip to Singapore

Since last year's trip was such a huge success, Big A decided the family ought to do a repeat trip to Singapore. This time, Little A was much less anxious, as he knew exactly what to expect.

We added one more day, and ended up returning to the Zoo, his favourite place. This year we skipped Universal Studios, but visited the Cloud Forest, which wasn't a must-see but was a good experience to have ticked off our Singapore lists.

Now that he's a "seasoned" traveller, we are aiming to get him used to longer and longer plane rides. The end goal is Melbourne, London, Hawaii, or even the West Coast. Next up, Japan! 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Sharing is Caring

So, a new school year has begun, and while many of his classmates are the same, Little A has a new set of teachers.

As always, the first few weeks are all about finding a balance. Praying no untoward behaviours crop up or recur, and that the learning continues apace, positively and enjoyably.

It was with trepidation that I opened a very long text message from Little A's main teacher one month into classes. Normally communications from teachers involve issues that need to be addressed as soon as possible.

This message was to tell me something wonderful. One of Little A's classmates, an older boy in an IEP class who joins the Grey Fours for last period, was crying. This happens quite often, and sometimes can be disruptive to lessons ongoing. Today though, it happened during free time, and the teachers saw Little A give this classmate a sensory toy. Thinking he was just returning the toy that the crying boy had dropped, they didn't react.

But then they saw Little A hand crying classmate a second toy, and pat him on the leg the way he did to himself when he needed comforting. And when Little A saw crying classmate mouthing the toy, he grabbed a third toy and made to put it in crying classmate's mouth, since this seemed to calm him down.

The teachers were touched and pleased to see this type of interaction between two non-verbal children, both of whom fall within the moderate to severe category on the spectrum. They might not interact typically, but it was clear that there was awareness, and sensitivity on another's emotional needs.

A+ for my Little A today. I am a proud mama.