I haven't said much about Pumpkin lately. Figured I'd toss out an update of sorts.
Things haven't changed much. Despite my best efforts, Pumpkin isn't all that different from the first day she arrived. Her dirty diapers still frustrate me more than they should. She's still fickle about whether or not she will feed herself. She doesn't talk much at all – it's still baby babbling for the most part. Almost all of her language is echolalia and doesn't have real meaning. Every now and then she will communicate a need or a want. But those moments are few and far between.
She has made progress. But the differences are so small that I struggle to get excited about them. Actually, that's not quite right. I get excited right away when I think Pumpkin has mastered a new skill. But because the skills don't always "stick"...and because the growth is so damn slow...it's hard to stay excited for long.
For example, I have been working with Pumpkin to learn the command "roll over" since she arrived in January.
Doesn't that sound awful?! It sounds like I'm treating her like a dog.
I'm not treating her like a dog though. I needed her to learn how to turn over on to her tummy so I could wash her bottom in the bathtub. Have you ever tried to wrangle a 42 pound naked little girl in the bathtub who won't turn over for you? And honestly, she has to turn over or else I can't get her bottom clean. I never really feel like she's clean after she has a dirty diaper until she has a bath.
For months I tried to teach her "roll over". I would say it calmly and then roll her over myself. This was usually met with resistance. Then I would get frustrated and...well...not so calm.
I tried to do it outside of the bathtub on the floor of her bedroom. It was usually met with confusion and then crying.
A few weeks ago I tried to get the littlest cherubs to model it for her. In their bedroom, after a bath where Pumpkin cried when I rolled her over, I played with Dude. I told Dude to roll over on the floor. Dude gave me a funny look but then rolled on to his tummy. Pumpkin completely avoided what was going on and literally looked the other way. I praised Dude like crazy hoping that Pumpkin was secretly paying attention. Of course Dolly wanted to play the game to so I had her roll over as well. Pumpkin just looked ticked off.
But I kept on trying. Three baths ago I asked Pumpkin to "roll over". I stayed calm and waited to see what she would do. I nearly dropped over when she complied! I quickly washed her backside and praised her over and over. She didn't acknowledge any of my reaction and just sat there in the tub while I finished washing her.
I didn't allow myself to actually think she learned the skill. Pumpkin will do things once and then...never again.
But since then I've given her two more baths. Each time when I told her to roll over she did!! (happy happy rejoicing!!)
Tiny amounts of progress. But progress nonetheless.
So, that's Pumpkin in a nutshell. She's been in my care for over 10 months now and she learned how to roll over on command. I have my days where I'm not sure I can continue to care for her. (She still gets mad and screams my name over and over like she did when she returned to care back in September. Acckk!) I have days where I just don't feel cut out to deal with this level of special needs on a daily basis anymore. But then I'll go to tuck her in at night and she'll light up when we read her favorite books. She'll sing along during the songs. She'll actually hug me before I walk out of the room. It's still difficult. But I can't imagine letting anyone else (except her mother of course) care for her.