I know what’s happening even before I hear the tearful cries of “open?, open? openopenOPEN?!” I only left her ten feet away — at the picnic table with her new book — while I tried to get some very necessary weeding done in the garden.
I hesitate to get up. I want her to try it for herself. I force myself to focus on the weeds.
But slowly, carefully, she descends the two steps from our patio to the back yard and makes her way over to me. “Open? Close?” she asks, with tears in her eyes.
I hold her hands — hand over hand — and show her how to open the new book. She used to hate being shown how to do things that way. She would stubbornly pull her hands from your grip and just refuse. We are past that now. In times of desperation, she will allow me to show her.
We try the zipper on the book a few times together. I show her how to rotate the book as she pulls the zipper closed. She almost gets it. I cheer for her. She tries again and does it herself. I tell her how proud I am. I give her a hug. She sits in the grass to look at the book and I go back to my weeding.
But I only have the chance to work through a very small area before I hear it again… “open?, open? openopenOPEN?!”
This time the sobs come through loud and clear. I try to make eye contact. I ask “do you need a hug?”
“Yeah,” she sobs, without ever looking at my face.
She draws in close and I can feel her whole body shake with sobs of frustration. Yes, that’s the “F” word I’m talking about. In our house, we deal with it daily.
Today, I am frustrated too. I gave her that book — as a reward for a potty training success. Why didn’t I think about the damn zipper?
I can’t begin to know all the answers to the puzzle that is my Little Miss. I thought the book would be a huge hit with her. The little basket and the farm goods to collect throughout the story are right up her alley — something to hoard and quench her obsession for put-in/take-out. Who knew that the basket would be immediately cast aside for a fixation with the zipper?
It’s days like today that the motor issues that come hand in hand with Little Miss’s SPD are hardest to deal with. She can zip. She knows she can zip. But she cannot open and close this little book. It is because she has never zipped around a 90 degree corner. She cannot apply the motor memory from a straight zipper and make the needed adaptions.
And so instead of a reward, my gift becomes another piece of therapy — to be tried, fought over (and probably cried over), until we can add zipping around a corner to Little Miss’s motor skills tool box.