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The Twos and a preschool meeting

I'm not saying "terrible twos" because there are a lot of cute, fun things about 2 year olds, but holy smokes, Raya has most definitely hit "the twos"! We've seen all her life that she has a strong, feisty, determined personality but she's really kicked it up a notch lately. She gets it into her head that she's going to do something and there's just no stopping her. Or at least not without a giant meltdown. :) Her independent streak has hit epic proportions too. She MUST do EVERYTHING herself, even if she's not quite capable yet and everything is a wrestling match now. Diaper changes and getting in the carseat are the worst of it. She gets mad if I don't let her get out of the car by herself too. Yesterday she stood by the sidewalk and refused to come in the house because I helped her get down out of the car (which is an SUV that I don't want her to fall out of):
After 5 minutes of being extremely patient and nicely telling her it was time to go in the house (her favorite word right now is NO!), I finally picked her up and carried her kicking and screaming into the house. I cringe to think of what our neighbors must think sometimes. :)

She has gotten it into her head that she's a big kid just like her brother & sisters, which isn't entirely a bad thing unless it involves things like drinking out of the gallon-sized milk jug or taking a swig of Mommy's 2 liter bottle of strawberry Crush:

She's also managed to unplug her extension tube a couple of times lately during a feed and I find her sucking on the end of it (while playing with a water bottle on the couch which isn't allowed at our house)
Now don't get me wrong, I get that she's 2 and these are the things that 2 year olds do. If she was my first 2 year old instead of my 4th, I would think that it's all totally normal but she has been taking it to another level the past couple of weeks. She just can't let things go. When I buckle her into her carseat instead of letting her try (and fail) to do it by herself, she screams. Not just for a minute or two, but the entire time she's buckled into the carseat, whether it's 5 minutes or 45 minutes. Yesterday we were driving home from the post office and she screamed for the first 10 minutes and then stopped. I thought she was done, but then she must have looked at the buckle again because she started screaming again and yelling at me. This is how it's been for a week now every time she gets in the car. She has a really difficult time self-regulating when she gets upset about something. Not only is it irritating and frustrating, but it's also sad and a little scary to think of how life might be for her if she doesn't learn to cope with changes in her emotions. I can think back to kids I knew growing up who, for lack of better verbage, were emotionally unstable and would either fly off the handle or cry about every little thing and not be able to recover from emotional upsets the way other kids could. They just weren't able to regulate their emotions or react appropriately to situations that evoked emotional reactions and I don't want that for her.

We had her preschool transition meeting on Wednesday. I thought it would be the meeting where she was evaluated to see if she qualifies for the special needs preschool program but it wasn't. (and OH. MY. WORD. When did my baby get old enough to even be TALKING about preschool?!?) We met with our support coordinator and the school psychologist and all the psychologist did was tell me what the preschool program consists of, tell me we'll be having 2 more meetings for her evaluation & to go over the results, and give me some paperwork to fill out & bring to the next meeting. She was a nice person but it was pretty ridiculous to have to take Raya and go to this meeting when everything we did could have easily been accomplished by phone and email. It seems inefficient and wasteful to me but that's just my opinion.

Anyway, after having that meeting and seeing some of the questionnaires they gave me to fill out and then seeing some of the behaviors and changes I've seen in Raya lately, I really hope that she will qualify. Back to the wanting to be a big kid thing, I can see that having her older siblings to follow is helping her overcome some of her challenges faster than she would without their peer modeling. I think that being able to be in an integrated classroom setting while she's of preschool age would set her up for a successful experience in kindergarten and through the rest of elementary school. She honestly NEEDS to have that kind of peer interaction to be able to adjust to the classroom experience prior to being in kindergarten and she needs to be able to continue her therapies at least until she's of school age. It's hard for me to put it into words exactly why she does, but she does. Raya is one of those kids that started out with early intervention therapy services at a very young age (<6 months) and has done so well with them that she's made improvements in all of her deficits, but now because of the progress she's made, I'm afraid that she's at some point going to lose her therapy services in spite of the fact that she still desperately needs them. Until her preschool evaluation is over with, I'm trying not to stress about whether or not she'll qualify but I can't help but wonder. It's scary to think about so I try not to because worrying doesn't help anything and for now, she's covered.

*Deep breath* Okay, back to the cute parts about being 2. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I think there are fewer things cuter than a peacefully slumbering 2 year old. Especially one that was screaming at you in the car 20 minutes before falling asleep in your friend's back porch baby swing:
She was sweaty as heck when I got her out of there but it felt good to just sit on the porch and push her in the swing while I visited with my friend. A sleeping piggy tailed 2 year old is a beautiful thing. :)

As spunky and feisty as Raya can be, she is also incredibly sweet and compassionate. On Monday we went to the hospital to visit our sweet little friend Whitney who had major abdominal surgery the week before. We had visited her in the PICU the day after her surgery and she was absolutely miserable. They hadn't anticipated the surgery being as invasive as it turned out to be and didn't think they'd be there as long as they have, so we wanted to go visit them again. We walked into the room and the girls saw each other and smiled but Raya decided to be bashful. Eventually they said hello to each other and then we told the girls to give each other hugs. Raya reached down to hug Whitney and Whitney just melted into Raya's arms. It's a good thing Raya outweighs her by 10 pounds because she just kept leaning on Raya. It was the most ADORABLE thing!
Shortly after I took that picture, Whitney just burst into tears for no apparent reason while she leaned on Raya. So sad! I think she just had cabin fever from being there for so long and needed a friend to cry to. Raya looked up at me and didn't quite know what to think but she just let Whitney lean on her until one of her parents picked her up and held her for a minute. It was hard to watch that and not cry right along with her! The poor girl had really hit her limit on being at the hospital and even cried when the volunteers came in to bring drinks. After we'd been there for a few minutes, Whitney calmed down and relaxed and the girls played together a little bit.
Thankfully, Whitney was finally able to go home yesterday.

So if you see me and I look exhausted, it's probably because I spend most of my day wrestling with a 30 pound 2 year old. She wears me out but I sure do love her!


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