Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: Hypersensitive

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I am unable to determine whether Erik enjoys preschool or not. I imagine he does on some level, but I'm sure if he was asked, he would choose to attend adult functions with me during the day over soaking his fingers in globs of paint and drinking watered down juice from Dixie cups with people his size.

We bundled up today and drove to school. Jeff shouted hello from his perch behind the window of the school bus. Once we were inside, I ran into the EI parent group moderator. She attempted to strike up a conversation with Erik, but he largely ignored her and sunk into silence. I led him to his cubby in the classroom and asked him to unzip his jacket, but he stood there and stared at the floor. I removed his jacket halfway, which prompted him to reach up and pull it off completely. He went through the motions of hanging it on a hook in his cubby with my hand over his, which was impressive to me. At this point, things went quickly downhill. We were fairly early, so there were only a couple of children in the classroom at the little table that held a tiny, wooden train set. Erik's subsequent meltdown was a complete surprise to me. I craned my neck from where I stooped on the floor to see what had caused this outburst. A girl played with a relatively pleasant musical toy, and I could only guess that triggered his hyperacusis. My boy's face turned tomato-red, and his bottom lip stuck out in a fleshy shelf. Tears began to squirt from the corners of his eyes as if he was in agony. I wrapped my arms around him as he continued to sob. The teachers began a maddening but sympathetic game of "Guess Why He's Upset?" I finally speculated out loud that it was the musical toy that pushed Erik over the edge. As the explanation was coming from my lips, Jeannie intercepted the electronic toy and switched it to a lower volume. She then told me I could do what I needed to do, giving me subtle permission to leave the room. I kissed Erik on the forehead, and he reached his arms out for me. That killed me. I said goodbye and walked away. I knew that he would calm down quickly once I was gone.

I wasn't in a fabulous mood to begin with this morning. I'm feeling overwhelmed, and little things are causing me to snap like a dry twig. For once I welcomed the voices in my head when I got back to the Jeep as I tried to sort my feelings out. I thought long and hard about all that Erik and I have been through in that building. In retrospect, it is quite clear that the old days were so much darker. One year ago, he slumped over and was motionless every day he was there. I remember pounding the door open and sprinting to him thinking he was having some sort of seizure when he was just playing dead around the other children. We both cried a lot. Today had a very similar feel to it, but I concluded that Erik has come leaps and bounds from where he used to be and that there will be days like this. Yes, they still suck, but they are better. Satisfied with my own self-help session, I took a deep breath and turned the key in the ignition.

As I drove across town, my cell phone rang. I answered it as if I was Mary Poppins on Prozac, hoping that pretending I was in a better mood would make it true. It was Jeannie. She reported that Erik had calmed down but was silent. One of his goals is to play with other children, so she is pushing him a bit in that area, but he wasn't having it today. She said he watched them intently, refusing to join in and looking like he wished he was somewhere else. Anywhere else. She was honest but strangely reassuring. Knowing he wasn't sobbing took some of the sting away. I said a heartfelt thank you and hung up.

I turned the car in the direction of the grocery store. I suddenly felt like visiting the cleaning aisle and sniffing the new dish soaps and laundry detergents to drown my sorrows.

Labels: , , , ,


Blogger Tara said...

Reading your post today made me want to cry. I sometimes sit at work and wonder how Payton is doing at the sitters or how she is doing at school because of certain loud noises or situations she can't understand. It makes it so hard to leave her everyday. I admire you for telling yourself that it has gotten better than it was a year ago - that is still very hard for me to tell myself sometimes. I hope Erik does okay at home with you this evening - I notice when things are rough at preschool a lot of times our evenings are rough. I'll be thinking about you....and hoping for a better day tomorrow.

12:27 PM  
Blogger All moments remembered said...

OHHHHH HUGS!!!!! That would have so killed me! Sorry Nancy you had to go through that this morning!!! I hope each time he goes to school it gets easier!! HUGS to you and Erik!!

1:49 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

That really stinks. My heart really goes out to you. I just started leaving Noah for 2 hrs 3 days a week for my job. He goes to my mom's or my mother n laws. Tomorrow he is going to my friends house. I have never left him with anyone but my mom or m n l. I may see a different Noah, usually he doesn't care. Hopefully things will get better for Eric. Maybe he will make a friend.

2:29 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

Oh Nancy, its so hard to leave them upset like that.
As Eric gets used to the routine he will probably slowly start pushing himself to try new things like friend-making.
We are 3/4 of the way through the school year here and although we still fight the tears and tantrums they have improved dramatically - at the beginning of the year the EIU kids all seperated like opposing magnets now they will actually play together, not always well, but they will take a few minutes together sharing or playing alongside, they just got comfortable with the routine i guess.

3:43 PM  
Blogger Lisa R said...

Oh Nancwe you are crazy...In the best way possible, most likely the same way I am....I bet he gets used to school, we all go through adaption time... I am hoping for you all he needs is the mean time a bit of vodka in the club soda is wr=eight watcher friendly and it may help..." Mommy Juice"lol

I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

8:34 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I hope he settle in to the routine and enjoys playing with the other kids. It's so hard to leave them when you're not sure how they are feeling about being there.
Hang in there!

4:49 AM  
Blogger Every minute counts.... said...

The days like you described are very tough on you and on Erik. It is hard not to jump in and protect them. That is your job. I hope that things start getting easier for Erik to adjust too. There always seems to be a "honeymoon" period, then it gets bad, and then it gets better.
Hope the "better" gets here soon!


5:28 AM  
Blogger kathi said...

It is sooooo hard being a mom, but you're so good at it. I wish you could see yourself from our point of view. It's a great view.
Erik will have his good and his bad days, like everyone only multiplied. He's a smart kid, he'll figure this out, and routinely seeing that you will pick him up will set the routine. Try to have 'you' time when he's in school, knowing he's being taken good care of and that you're being kept in the loop. Sounds like his teachers are good people.

6:01 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Nancy, he will come around at school. He really needs to be there. I can't really pretend that I know how you feel though. Caleb has never had an issue with leaving me or being at school. Sort of sad though knowing he could care less if I'm around or not. Hang in there and don't let it get to you. He will overcome.

6:05 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Progress comes in mini dollopes, and it never seems to come easy, always smothered with a heaping dose of sadness. This day wasn't great, it was crap to say the least. But another day will make up for it(: Like when Erik says hello to his shadow, how wonderfully special is it that?

7:20 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Darling said...

I dont know anything about williams syndrome. I came to your site through a link on my site meter for theraputic listening. My daughter has a sensory integration disorder along with Oppositonal Defiance Disorder. I finally had to pull her out of school. At the end of the third grade she was reading at a beginning first grade level. The calssroom was to much noise and she couldnt understand a thing that was going on.

I homeschool her now but our days are often rocky. If you're interested in reading about another mothers struggles and therapies that have worked and not worked for her you can go to my blog and use the label Tink or Sensory Integration Disorder.

Just wanted to let you know that you are not alone!

8:59 AM  
Blogger Teresa & Shawn said...

It's tough to walk the line between protecting your child and helping them "grow up." I am sure it's incredibly hard to think of Erik crying and you not being there with him. Remember - he is in good hands or else you wouldn't be sending him there. It's a big scary world out there, and Erik will need to navigate it in his own time. I'll be thinking of you for sunnier days!

10:39 AM  
Blogger Kerry said...

I hate doing things that we know are right, know is good for our children, that we're doing it for "their own good" when it makes us feel miserable! I DID NOT sign up for that! I know it'll get easier for Erik, and you, and he will probably have more crappy days, but then he'll be fine... This is when ignorance is bliss and you get really busy and forget their pathetic little faces and then when it is time to pick them up you give them a big hug and take them to McDOnal's for fried and a chocolate shake. :)
love you~

7:23 PM  
Blogger Rosemarie said...

As a mother, our instinct is to protect, but there are times in motherhood when we must let go even if it's only for a few hours a day.

8:24 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home