Growing Up Brave

Anxiety.  Kalvin has experienced difficulty with fears and anxiety his whole life.  The majority of his anxiety seems to be classified as separation anxiety.  From us.  From his teacher.  He is willing to try anything  if we are with him.  On the flip side,  he is willing to sacrifice just about everything if we are not.  I am still amazed at what he is comfortable doing if I am within eye shot.  This boy will try pretty much anything.  And with a smile.  Maybe a strained smile,  but a smile all the same.  I have to say,  that is a lot more than most people will do-anxiety or not.
Kalvin had his first piano recital recently.  He was very nervous,  but only slightly about performing.  Most of his worry was about where Lars and I would be seated.  Would he be able to see us?  Would we sit in the front?  What if we got up and left while he was performing? 

That is the one that stings.  Really pulls at my heart strings.  How could this little boy even think for a second that we, his parents,  would get up and leave,   abandon him at his piano recital?   Yet this is a common theme that runs through his mind.  It is heartbreaking to watch him struggle with these thoughts because you can tell he doesn’t choose to think this way.  He can’t help it. 
 We were referred to the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders at Boston University (read more about the Center here) after Kalvin’s three year IEP review and extensive testing this past spring.  Our assessment is scheduled for July 16th.  The questionnaire is pretty interesting...I will share more later.  It may take up an entire post.

The Center is a top rated facility that provides state of the art cognitive-behavioral treatment for children and their families.  We are very excited and hopeful that we will learn some strategies that will allow Kalvin to feel comfortable doing things without us.  Normal things others take for granted.  To be able to wait in the pick up line at school without fear and panic overwhelming him that we won't come to pick him up.  Ever.

I have recently read the book Growing Up Brave written by Donna B Pincus - a Research Associate Professor at Boston University, and the Director of the Child and Adolescent Fear and Anxiety treatment Program at the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders at Boston University.  (which  you can review here).  Growing Up Brave has helped get us started with some proven strategies.  I highly recommend it.
We weren’t quite sure how Kalvin would do,  performing in front of over sixty people.  Especially when the schedule changed at the last hour and he was suddenly slated to go on first.  His teacher offered to change the line up so he wouldn't have to be the first. performer.  He decided he would go first.  He could do it.  He had chosen a simple song for his first performance - Sea Story.  He did a great job!  See for yourself.
Kalvin, you continue to make us so proud every day.  We could not ask for more.


  1. The image of him fretting over where you'll sit pulls at my heart strings, too! I can only imagine. You're a great mom.

    And great job going first, Kalvin!

    PS. How did you get him to do piano, and when did he start? I'd love to know! I'd really like to get my boys started eventually (maybe once they can read), but they seem more interested in riding bikes or taking swimming lessons. :)

  2. Hi Erica, Thanks for your kind support. Kalvin has always liked music. He went to a music class called Tiny Tunes when he was 1 until he was ~4 yrs old and absolutely loved the piano and the teacher. He would have us play Tiny Tunes ( at home where he would play the piano and we would sing all the songs from class and follow his directions. He can be bossy:-) The piano teacher from Tiny Tunes gives lessons. He just started last summer when he was 7 yrs old. We asked him a year or so earlier but he didn't seem ready. Even now it is hard to get him to practice even 5 minutes a day. I think some start younger. My 3 year old, Finn, can all ready play some of Kalvin's songs just from listening so each child is a little different. Good luck! And thanks for talking the time to stop by. Kristen

  3. I imagine it must be challenging to deal with these constant fears and need for reassurance. Not only the endurance of it, but also just the emotional exhaustion--wishing you could convey your commitment, your loyalty, your love, to your son. But I also think of how tiresome it must be for him, constantly worrying about abandonment. I hope that you will find some successful strategies at Boston University!

    1. Thank you Darcie, for your kind words. Our visit at BU was very enlightening. It looks like we will begin CBT and everyone is very hopeful that it will help Kalvin to become more secure and self confidant. He did reveal to us on the way home from BU that he thinks we are going to leave him and head off to China, never to return?!?! We think some of these "abandonment issues" are a result of having 8 hours of bypass surgery at 5 days old. Anxiety seems to be one of the common threads in many of the heart kids. Thanks again for stopping by. All the best, Kristen