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Follow Up to Virgilís Last Blog on Matthew

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Initially I was going to do a follow-up blog from Virgilís blog about Matthew and the pediatrician, then I changed my mind. Fifth and Jersea convinced me to respond from my perspective. I do not mean to offend anyone with my comments (just want that to be clear) after all I am the one that spends most of the time with Matthew everyday (no offense Virgil) and I think I know him best.

Most of what Virgil stated is fairly accurate. At this point in time I am not too disturbed with what the doctor said, puzzled a little, yes, but not to the point where I think she is totally whacked. She happens to be a well known respected pediatrician in the international adoption field. She is also the only doctor in New York State that deals with International Adoption and that is the type of doctor we needed at the beginning. I should mention that Virgil is the one that wants to continue with her. Iíd rather find someone where we live since it will be a lot closer.

Each child is a unique individual and to compare a child to another child is not fair. I realize this is done anyway but it does not make it right.

Language skills: it is true that Matthew really canít vocalize what his needs are. That was what the doctor was really saying. In her mind Matthew is frustrated because he cannot tell Mommy and daddy what he wants. I told her how I go about figuring out what he needs. First I check his diaper, if itís not his diaper I see if he is hungry or thirsty. If itís not any of those I do a process of elimination of what I think it is that he may want/need. Usually itís one of the three.

Matthew doesnít say many words right now. As Virgil stated he can say mama, dada, baby, baba and bye bye. He knows some body parts and can follow commands very well. I am not too concerned at this point.

Tantrums: all depends on how you define a tantrum. Matthew doesnít stomp his feet and scream but he can cry for a period of time if left in his crib or doesnít get his way. The doctor said let him have his tantrums and believe me I do. I do not run to him as soon as he starts his crying or so called screaming. The majority of the times heíll cry or scream when he is in his crib. Most times it because his pacifier fell out of his mouth and he canít find it. Other times itís because his diaper needs changing , heís having a dream or he just wants out. Virgil doesnít always see this side of Matthew which is not a knock against him but Iím with Matthew all day until he comes home from work .

Being too good: this comment from the doctor had me a little baffled. When she mentioned ďNotice how he was just handed to me and he didnít resist. I handled him in all sorts of ways, and he didnít fight. First, that can be dangerous if some stranger lures him away.Ē Iíve known quite a few babies/toddlers in my time and some went to other people willingly and some did not. Matthew is a friendly child, he likes waving to people whether we are in a restaurant, grocery store or out and about. When he is a little bit older and can understand the concept, Iíll explain to him the dangers about people he doesnít know. If the doctor thinks Matthew is too good, she should spend a day with me and she may think differently LOL.

Being passive: Letís be clear that the doctor said ďmay risk developing into a passive personĒ. I donít think that will be the case with Matthew. Is he picked up a lot ? Yes, by his father. I pick him up as well, but I do not carry him around as much as daddy. I try to explain to Virgil that if he constantly picks him up and carries him around, Matthew will expect him to do it all the time and he does expect this. It is my belief that he shouldnít be picked up and carried all the time. Do we do things for Matthew ? Yes, but I am a believer in getting the child to learn how to do certain things on their own early in life. I want him to grow up to be an independent person and not have to rely on other people to get thru life. Obviously Matthew canít change his own diaper or cook for himself as Virgil alluded to (Virgilís shot at being sarcastic!!).

Exploring on his own/being frustrated: I let Matthew explore his surroundings since he is very inquisitive. When we are outside or in the car he points to all the trees, the buses and trucks. When we are inside the house I give him pretty much free reign in exploring while keeping my eyes and ears open. I would say Matthew gets frustrated when he is not allowed to do something, have something or complete a task. For example: my mother has a step leading from the dining room into her living room. For the longest time Matthew couldnít figure out how to get down the step on his own and he would whine a little. He finally figured out that if he holds on to the chair that is by the step he can make it down on his own standing up.

I am still not sure what the doctor meant when she said Matthew is not in touch with his feelings. Contrary to what Virgil said I did not agree with that statement. I even joked about it on our way home.

Eating with a fork and spoon on his own: I know many toddlers at his age that did not eat on their own with a fork and spoon so I am not concerned about this. He can eat finger foods on his own but can get lazy at times and would prefer you to put it in his mouth. I do however have him try to feed himself every day. He just has a problem in getting the food on the fork or spoon. If I put the food on for him, heíll get it into his mouth on his own. If we always do this for him, he will never want to learn to do it on his own because he knows daddy will at least do it for him.

While I guess it appeases Virgilís mind to know that there is nothing wrong with how Matthew is doing based on other peopleís comments, I on the other hand do not seek advice from outside the family circle. If I do seek advice I go to my mom who seeís Matthew almost on a daily basis and who has an open mind and will tell me if she thinks something is not right. As far as she is concerned Matthew is right where he should be.

Updated 02-07-2011 at 10:44 AM by pussnboots

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  1. TheFifthElement's Avatar
    pussnboots, I'm so glad you posted this. I feel vastly reassured. It doesn't sound like you have anything to worry about, in fact I'd say that you're absolutely right to trust your instincts and that you sound like a fantastic mother. In terms of development, you're right to say that children are individual and that they will develop at a different pace. My kids were exactly the same. When it came to eating, my son was terrible at feeding himself anything other than finger foods until he was over 2, and this basically came down to the fact that he wasn't really a fan of eating (and still isn't) so wasn't really motivated to do it. We fed him because it was the only way to guarantee he ate something until he eventually settled down to a more regular (or as regular as it gets anyway) eating habit. At 11 he can now feed himself, but not always at lunchtime at school when he often comes home with his lunchbox still full, and when he's playing on the X-box the whole day could go by before he'd notice he had an empty belly! Your approach sounds right on the money; you're encouraging him to do it himself in incremental steps. I'm sure he's learning every day, and eventually he'll be able to feed himself no problem. There's no strict timetable on these things. My son was very articulate from very young, he walked early, but he was slow in developing his eating skills (and still is) and he was about 4 before he was properly toilet trained and it used to drive me mad listening to other mothers whose kids were toilet trained by 2. He still got there, it just took him a little longer. If he couldn't do it now, I'd be more worried!

    In terms of tantrums, I was also wondering whether everyone was thinking of the same thing. When I think about my son when he was a baby, I don't think about him in terms of 'tantrums' on the basis that he wasn't a naughty child, and he didn't throw himself on the floor in the supermarket, but he did lose his rag when confronted with any unexpected barrier to his goal, whether that was because it was forbidden or because he didn't have the skill yet to achieve it. My daughter, on the other hand, had a throw yourself on the floor dickie fit at the age of 9 months and she couldn't even stand up then! That being said, she never stropped when we were out and about either, and her loss of temper was always linked to frustration, particularly around the things she could see her brother doing which she just didn't have the skill to do herself. If Matthew is 'losing his temper' as you say then I would class this as a tantrum. He may never do the screaming ab-dabs in the supermarket, but neither did my kids. Based on what you say here, he has tantrums. Perfectly normal.

    His passivity in being handled is also quite understandable considering his background. He's probably been handled by a lot of different people since he was tiny, and so it is normal to him. I suspect he will become naturally more suspicious of strangers when he becomes older, probably around 3 years old which is about the time when they start becoming much more self aware, and like you say you can have the 'stranger danger' chat with him when he's old enough to take it all in. From the sounds of what you've said here, it doesn't sound like he is 'passive'. I'd say he sounds quite active and inquisitive.

    Everything you've said here makes so much sense pussnboots. It sounds like you're an excellent mother, giving him just the right balance of support and freedom. I think you're totally right to trust your instincts, and it sounds like you've got a suitable support network close by for advice if you need it. It sounds like you're more than capable of working out when to worry and when not. You're doing a great job. Matthew is very lucky to have you. Both of you.
  2. zoolane's Avatar
    I also agree with Fifth. I have 3 girls so I had one throw herself on floor 1 daughter who 13 ,2nd daughter storm off even now she 10 and 3rd will just go sit or go to her room and crying who 6.
  3. qimissung's Avatar
    I thought he was probably doing fine, based on the little I had read about him, but I'm glad you got a chance to tell about him from your viewpoint. That always makes for a more well-rounded version.

    It was far more informative than Virgil's, which doesn't particularly surprise me as you do spend more time with him. It has been my experience that women are often better at articulating what is going on with their children.

    Thanks for the post, pussnboots. Do you feel too busy to blog about your life as a parent? I really enjoyed your blogs about your efforts to become one.
  4. pussnboots's Avatar
    Qimi, I would have thought by now people would be tired of hearing our saga LOL!!

    I'll see what I can do.
  5. The Comedian's Avatar
    I must not have read Virgil's original post, but it seems to me that Matthew and you and the Big-V are doing just fine. Kids have tantrums, sometimes they're passive, other times they're not. Some kids are shy. Others are friendly and outgoing. Some times shy kids get more out going. Other times outgoing kids get more shy.

    Kids Matthew's age -- he's one-ish, right? They're just figurin' things out. Half the the time, when they're frustrated, or "passive", or whatever is because they don't know what's going on. Well, at least my daughters were like that when they were that age.

    My oldest girl is really passive, tentative, not-really a leader, honestly. But that's okay. She's highly empathetic, compassionate, reflective. A deep thinker.

    The little one is hell in boots: she's confident to a fault, assertive, a little selfish, funny, boisterous, and a leader of men, women, girls and boys. . . when she's frustrated, she gets mad. When the older one is frustrated, she gets sad.

    . . . . what I'm sayin' here pussnboots is that you guys sound like fine parents and Matthew sounds like a fine kid.
    Updated 02-07-2011 at 09:27 PM by The Comedian
  6. Buh4Bee's Avatar
    Thanks for the post. I am just so tickled still that you and Virgil continue to share your story. It is such an amazing tale. I can tell what dedicated parents you are. I guess my only complaint to the doctor would be that an explanation about specifics may be appreciated. One idea may be that the doctor wants Mathew's environment changed a bit to force him to express himself more, hence develop his language skills. Doesn't sound like it is a major issue, but maybe it is something to keep on the radar? I have no idea. Mine, of course is perfect! Not! he is in the bottom 15% for height and weight and has a growth in his testicle.
  7. pussnboots's Avatar
    Thanks everyone for their comments.

    Jersea: while I am not overly concerned at this point about Matthew's language skills, it is on my mind. I hope the growth is nothing to be concerned about.
  8. OrphanPip's Avatar
    It occurred to me after responding to Virgil's blog that the pediatrician may have been looking for signs of developmental disorders, but was hedging her language in less scary terms to prevent panic or worry.
  9. pussnboots's Avatar
    OrphanPip: that is possible
  10. JuniperWoolf's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by The Comedian
    My oldest girl is really passive, tentative, not-really a leader, honestly. But that's okay. She highly empathetic, compassionate, reflective. A deep thinker.
    Yeah, I have no idea why so many people are under the impression that passivity is a fault - using your brain before you use your mouth is a virtue.
  11. Virgil's Avatar
    See, my wife's side matches what I said. I was focusing on the pediatrician visit and she rounded it out with where Matthew stands. The doctor actually said those things and they were silly. She's a good doctor when it comes to medicine. She needs to cut the psychobabble.

    Do I pick Matthew up frequently? Yeah. He likes it and I like it. And I suffer for it. He whines when he wants to be picked up by me whether I want to or not. We walk around and we explore and learn together. But that's our bond. He'll grow out of it. It's not going to effect his development or personality. Not in a bad way.
  12. TheFifthElement's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by JuniperWoolf
    Yeah, I have no idea why so many people are under the impression that passivity is a fault - using your brain before you use your mouth is a virtue.
    I think it depends what you mean by 'passive'. In terms of child development, I would consider a 'passive' child to be one who acted more as a 'receptor' of input, rather than actively seeking input, exploring and discovering the world and themselves. So whilst Comedian refers to his daughter as 'passive' he probably doesn't mean it in the terms I've just couched it. Perhaps what he means is more that she is quiet and reflective which is different to a child being developmentally 'passive'.
  13. zoolane's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by The Comedian
    My oldest girl is really passive, tentative, not-really a leader, honestly. But that's okay. She's highly empathetic, compassionate, reflective. A deep thinker.

    This sound my middle daughter.
  14. Janine's Avatar
    pussnboots, I am also very happy to read this and learn your perspective. I can understand not picking Matthew up when he whines for it or cries but actually my granddaughter is often picked up by her mom and my son says she does it too much; but let her carry on and he will cave in too and pick her up. Brooke is a year older than Matthew, so I am trying hard to recall how she was at his age. Her drs say she is advanced in language skills so I think that Matthew is really right on target with his and even if he were a little slower - all kids are different. Also, as many have said, coming from an orphanage was a bit of a setback for the little guy. I say give this one year old a break. As far as serious problems arising, I don't believe drs can determine that until they are a little older. I know a friend of my son's who's daughter did not talk until she was nearly three - they had her tested extensively at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia; nothing showed up until the found she has some type of low muscle tone; I have meet the child and she is adorable and seems perfectly normal and she talks fine...some kids just take more time to do so. Brooke went through that same pointing stage at 1 1/2...it is natural, I believe...it was sort of like asking 'what is that object?' Should we expect one year olds to know? As far as emotional development is concerned, I don't believe a dr can determine that, until the child is older and also you, the mother, see the child more than she does; so you would pick up on things that were wrong. Awhile back, Virgil posted photos showing how funny and expressive Matthew could be. If that is not being in touch with feelings, I am not sure what is. I read up on tandrums and at 2 they are normal; but they are not desirable behavior and should not be encouraged. I never heard of a dr suggesting you have a child intentionally have tantrums. I will send you the article link to the website. It was quite informative concerning behavior in children.

    To me I believe, as you, that you son is perfectly normal and within normal range of learning skills. I know one thing, he is a cutie pie and he looks to be very healthy and happy. I am sure he has his moments like all children, but that is all part of the deal of parenthood. No kid is perfect. For that matter, no parent is perfect either.

    Oh and by the way, my granddaughter who is a year older is still loving someone to feed her. She can do it herself quite well, but they all have their baby moments; and sometimes it's the only way to get them to eat - playing a little game with them. She started with finger food too; but she made a mess of course...and still does sometimes. Last time I babysat her, I gave her a paper towel and asked her to clean up her own spill on the floor; which she was quite agreeable to do. I figured that would teach her not to be so messy next time. They all have trouble putting food on a fork or spoon. Are you using the metal ones or the plastic ones? My son finally switched to part metal kids tableware and now she can handle it much better. Also, they love to eat ice-cream, like Dixie cups, with those little wooden flat spoons.
    Updated 02-09-2011 at 01:13 AM by Janine
  15. 1n50mn14's Avatar
    I have to admit, when I first read Virgil's blog, my first though about the doctor was 'What a nut-case!'. Having read your perspective, however, it seems a little less extreme. I don't know anything about children, but there is no doubt in my mind that your son has the best home he possibly could, and will become an out-standing individual.