Monday, August 29, 2011

Gavin Gatsby: 7 Year Old

A post alternately titled: Preemie No More

Gavin turned seven on Saturday! And I'm not even going to go into the walk down memory lane of his prematurity. It's here if you want to relive it. It's just not for this post.

As I thought of all the things I could write on his birthday, there was one glaring theme that's stood out to me over the past year: He's not my little preemie any more.

I'm not sure I will ever be able to say that we CONQUERED prematurity. There are scars, few physical, mostly emotional. Lingering quirks that I will always wonder: did being born too early cause this?

But I've found that over the last year, I haven't qualified Gavin as a preemie in talking to people any more. When we went to the walk in clinic for an illness, I almost forgot to mention it in his medical history. We're moving past it.

This year has been an amazing year for Gavin. First grade brought SUCH growth! We ended Kindergarten still slightly behind - or "progressing towards goal" as they put it. He entered first grade not behind! Over the summer he had somehow caught up to his peers. It was neat to show up at school weekly for my time helping the students needing a little extra help, and NOT have to bring him out in the hall with me.

He struggled with following directions. The teacher would take him aside and talk through the instructions, he would repeat them back, and then he just wouldn't execute them - missing some crucial step, and then not realizing it. She was quite puzzled by it. This led to an ADHD evaluation, which I strongly felt he did not have, but thought this might get us on track to some sort of solution. When meds and a psychologist were recommended, I politely declined. I know my kid. This wasn't the issue, and his teacher wholeheartedly agreed. I asked her if his behavior would be concerning if he were in Kindergarten, and she said not likely. I beat myself up for sending him to school and not holding him back a year to start Kindergarten when his due date would have placed him there.

By the end of first grade, though, he was continuing to make progress. The only area that was "progressing towards goal" was comprehension. There was huge growth from his EOY Kindergarten scores to his EOY First Grade scores. He was catching up!

What else did Gavin accomplish this last year?

He remained a strong and valuable player on his soccer team, and played indoor soccer for the first time. We are looking forward to playing with a new team this season.

He played flag football, and did not enjoy it. This secretly makes mama happy

Another season of baseball this spring - he seems to enjoy it, although it's not an overly dynamic game at this age.

He ran track for the first time. He made consistent improvement on his 400m race time, and qualified to Regionals in the long jump and 400m. He ran on the track that Chad ran in college and shaved another 4.5 seconds off his 400m time. We were SO proud of him! He's also done some fun runs over the summer, getting some longer distances under his belt.

We took a very special road trip to Colorado in January, just the two of us, and met up with my uncles for a ski trip. It was freezing so we only skied two days, but he did an amazing job on the mountain! He was very careful and responsible, with the right amount of fear and bravado. He was getting down blue trails without any problem by the end of the second day. We had such a blast, and he was a terrific road trip partner.

He recently took a "man trip" with Chad and Zach to eastern Iowa where they canoed and hiked.

Last Friday I was in his classroom to help administer spelling tests. I asked the teacher if she wanted me to mark them when they were done. It wasn't a totally selfless act, as I wanted to see how Gavin did in relation to all the other kids.

In Kindergarten, when he was struggling, I always had this thought in my head that I could handle if he struggled, as long as he wasn't the worst one. Isn't that weird?

I graded the tests. He missed a few, as did most kids. It turns out, he was perfectly average. Do we aspire to be better than average? Absolutely, and as parents it's our job to push him to be the best version of himself is possible.

But when I think back to the days leading up to his birth, and those early days in the NICU - faced with such a huge range of outcomes, perfectly average seemed possibly out of reach.

We're closing the chapter on prematurity.

Gavin, you are the light of my soul. Everyone that knows you well - pretty much every teacher and caregiver you've had - always has the same thing to say about you: "Gavin has the BIGGEST heart." We are so proud of you, how good you are to others, how hard you work, how focused and determined you are (when you want to be).

You have had such an amazing year! Happy Birthday.


Melissa said...

What an amazing kid! And handsome to boot! Happy birthday.

Trish said...

aww! This is fantastic!!

I read the part about K vs not K with rapt interest.
Robbie's prematurity also puts him eligible for K earlier than he "should" have been.
I'd assumed I'd hold him back, but here lately, his cognitive development would probably lean towards at-level or above, but socially and emotionally, he's definitely still on the low end.

It's hard to know the right thing to do.

Uncle Chris said...

Happy Birthday, buddy!

Sarah said...

I've heard that you'll know the full range of issues stemming from prematurity by age 8 - I also notice that many of the blogs taper off by then lol. I think that says it all.

Gavin looks amazing, but more importantly I'm amazed at how much he does. What a strong, defiant little man!

Happy Birthday Gavin :)