Sunday, December 27, 2009

TO: wwwwwwwwwww FROM: wwwwwwwwwwww

Kurt's strong will and mind of his own has been a blessing. Like the Energizer Bunny, Kurt keeps going. As a little boy, he played while his hands twitched and his head bobbed due to hundreds of myoclonic seizures. When, in 1999, his legs became paralyzed from seizures, he persevered through hours and days of physical therapy to walk again.

That same strong will can be a curse, as far as parenting goes. Kurt doesn't settle. He stubbornly knows what he wants and will not be persuaded otherwise. As a caregiver, sometimes that drives me crazy. Christmas shopping with Kurt was one of those times.

My mom took Kurt to three stores so he could purchase a snow scraper for his brother, Kelly, who had broken the one he used for his Blazer. A scraper's a scraper, right? Kurt didn't like the ones at Shopco or Walgreens. However, as soon as he saw the scraper at Ace Hardware with an extendable yellow handle, he knew.

My own shopping experience with Kurt was similar. I had to take him to two stores to find the right DVD for Keith's fiance.

While this made shopping more time-consuming, I appreciated his newfound excitement for gift giving. Past Christmases had always been about what he would receive. And when someone opened a package from Kurt, he would deny even buying it.

What really clenched the change in Kurt from recipient to gift giver was his determination to wrap the gifts himself, struggling to tear the tape from its dispenser and place it on the wrapping paper before the sticky side got all mangled. Most notably were the gift tags. Kurt insisted on filling out each one, although he only pre-writes. He scribbled sloppy 'w's from left to right, top to bottom until the tag was filled to his liking.

Christmas morning brought chuckles from everyone when they "read" the gift tags. Kurt sat on the couch and smiled.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Shopping With Kurt - Oh My!

Kurt finished his Christmas shopping this week. I had a doctor's appointment on Wednesday, so my mom offered to take Kurt shopping since they would have a couple of hours together anyway. He was to buy his brother Kelly and my gifts.

"We got it done," she said, looking dazed with a frozen smile on her face when I got home.

In years past, shopping with Kurt had been difficult, to put it mildly. He didn't want to buy presents for other people, so getting him out shopping was as fun as shoveling the driveway after a heavy snow, and as tiring. Once at the store, Kurt would become obsessed with an item he found, like a Legos set or a fire truck, and would insist on buying that for himself. Sometimes, prying the object of his desire out of his hands and leaving the store with my head exploding was all I could do.

Kurt's shopping skills have improved over the year. He has learned that he doesn't have to buy something for himself every trip to a store. And for the first time, he wants to give gifts. However, there are still challenges.

"Kurt saw this winter scarf and wouldn't look at anything else," Mom said.

"It was striped in fuchsia, orange, and turquiose," she said. "And he wanted to buy you the matching hat, which had a bill and ear flaps."

They put the set in their cart and browsed in Shopko for Kelly's gift. "I figured I could change his mind if we saw something else," Mom said.

That worked and I'm not getting the scarf set. I really wouldn't have minded. Knowing Kurt picked out my gift, whatever he thought I might like, brings a smile. I'm grateful he has come so far.

I'll tell you about his purchases for Kelly and when I took him shopping in another post.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

7 Signs Kurt is Growing Up

How does a person with a cognitive disability mature? The same way everyone else does. Only slower, at their own pace. That is something I am learning as we go. Here are some signs:

7. One of Kurt's chores is to unload the dishwasher. When we got home one afternoon, Kurt got right to the task without being asked. (His brothers don't do that.)
6. Instead of hiding his head with the brim of his hat, he holds his head up high and says "Good Morning" when he arrives at his destination.
5. He introduces us to his friends.
4. Normally, I spend an hour coaxing Kurt out of bed in the morning. "Get up. Take your medicine. Get dressed." Reminding him over and over. For the past two days, he has done this routine without being told.
3. He takes pride in his responsibilities. When I pick him up from Community Homestead, he won't leave until he has finished his project.
2. He can walk between the different houses and the Community Center at Community Homestead, without assistance, and he gets where he is supposed to be.

And the number 1 sign:
1. He asked for a suitcase for Christmas - and No Toys!

Kurt at 19