To the lady whom, whilst in Kmart today, so eloquently noticed and pointed out that Harry is “too old to have a dummy in his mouth”… While you may in fact be correct that he is too “old” or too “big” to use a dummy, given what he has gone through and achieved in his short life, I think letting him have a dummy occasionally is not the awful hideous bad parenting that you think it is.
I also want to mention that whilst in the midst of your high and mightiness, you only noticed Harry’s dummy – you did not however notice that he was wearing splints (ankle foot orthoses) on his legs, nor that he was a 4 year old being pushed around a shopping centre in a pram, or that he was making unintelligible sounds that are not recognisable as normal speech for a 4 year old.
What I wanted to, but did not say to you, is that Harry is 4 years old. In his short life he has suffered a stroke, battled through life with only half of his body functioning the way it is meant to, watched from afar as his peers play together in ways that he cannot (and thus gets left out), endured numerous therapy sessions weekly, been poked and prodded by doctors, been pushed to his limits to make small progress with his limbs that refused to work when he wanted them to, suffered from seizures and ongoing abnormal brain activity slowing his learning. Harry has to think about what he does with his legs when he walks – if he is carrying something large or requiring balance (eg a sandwich on a plate), he will fall over within taking three or four steps, because his brain is concentrating on what he is carrying and stops concentrating on putting his left foot where it is meant to go. For Harry, walking and running is a mental task as well as a physical one.
Harry didn’t roll over until he was 8 months old, he couldn’t sit unassisted until after his first birthday, he didn’t start walking until he was 2 ½ -3 years old (and we were told he wouldn’t walk unassisted). At the end of 2012 we were told it was unlikely he would ever have normal speech – and whilst he has not yet achieved that, in December last year Harry started making real progress with speech, and can now say his name, along with many other attempts at words.
Most 4 year olds (in QLD) attend kindergarten two or three days per week. Harry attends normal mainstream kindergarten five days per fortnight (two days one week, and three days the next), as well as attending special school kindergarten two days each week. That is four to five days at kindergarten every week, on Tuesdays he has physio after kindy one week and occupational therapy the other week. Wednesdays he has swimming lessons before kindy and hydrotherapy after kindy. Friday Harry is taken out of kindy at 10.30 for riding for the disabled horse riding, then dropped back at 12.00, and then taken out at 2pm for speech therapy. He is not allowed his dummy during any of those time (kindy or therapy) – it stays in the car as a reward for his hard work. Harry works harder during the week than a lot of others, just to try and slowly catch up to those who don’t even have to try…
So to the lady who today told Harry that he is too old for a dummy – screw you! Harry had a hospital appointment this morning, where a doctor, and an OT and a physio all poked, prodded, pushed and pulled him, and he was tired. If he finds a dummy to be comforting, then I say let him have it!
Hate to think what she would have said if she knew he still wears a nappy…