Well, it’s finally happened.
After several somewhat luxurious months of Alexander moving at a snail’s pace, our little man has taken off! When we’ve been asked what the greatest challenge is so far in raising Alexander, our usual answer is the speed at which he’s changing. Yes, all kids grow and change quickly, but it’s eye-opening to watch a little boy go from being unable to sit up to cruising (look at that mommy word!) in three months. He’s catching up physically incredibly quickly, and his teeth are coming in like crazy– it’s almost as if his entire body is suddenly going into overdrive to make up for lost time.
So after a lot of makeshift barriers and trying to keep our kid contained, Brian went out one night early this week on a mission for a baby gate. Though I initially felt a little guilty gating Alexander out of our kitchen (and subsequently, our stairs), it’s provided a great deal of relief. It almost felt as though Alexander changed from a slow crawl to a super-speedy
little man overnight! It was late last week that under supervision, he did a full ascent of our stairs, sat at the top, and clapped for himself. Luckily, he’s not so thrilled with trying to get back down, so he usually just sits at the top and waits to be carried back down. In any case though, the stairs and the kitchen are by far the most interesting places in our home now. I can’t even begin to explain how great it was to unload the dishwasher without a little boy drooling on all the clean silverware. I know this is just me dipping my big toe in the ocean of parenthood, but an empty dishwasher (even if just for a second) is a thing of beauty.
Aside from Alexander’s significant physical developmental strides (quite literally!), we’re noticing him increasing his communication with us, especially through mimicry and signing. I just about broke down into tears during breakfast once this week when he signed “kiss” to me; after a quick kiss on the nose, he smiled and clapped. Considering the coordination needed for this sign, I was more than surprised that he picked up on that one before some of the simpler ones (like “eat” and “ball”). Now, his favorite signs are “kiss,” “baby,” and “cat.” While he can’t say his name, he can make out an “Ahh-lahhh” when we practice saying things. We’ve started saying grace with him before his (five!) meals, and he gives an emphatic “La!” after we say “Amen.” I know that his brain is still developing as far as content and context is concerned, but we are definitely noticing more repetitive responses from him, which is really heartening.
This week, we have someone from the county coming out to discuss the early intervention program and to get Alexander set up with initial assessments. Although we continue to struggle with lots of parenting issues, I feel as though we’ve been spared up to now from the nightmarish “child development” charts. Talk to a new parent, and by their third pediatric appointment, all you hear about is percentiles. For Alexander, we cheered when his head finally made it on the chart, but we’ve never really put much thought into where he compared to other kids his age. For the first time though, we’ll be getting a full assessment to see what programs he qualifies for and which ones might benefit him before he starts school a few years down the line. Even with the assessments though, each one of his successive surgeries will change his physical and developmental stages so much, that everything to us is just a sliding scale and a work in progress.
I’ll end with what I consider a fairly comical paranoid parent story. After watching Alexander interact with a classic stacking ring tower at the children’s hospital, we decided it was a good addition to our home. We picked one up, and for several days, I played with him using the toy, encouraging him to try stacking the rings on the tower rather than banging them together or sucking on them (two of his favorite forms of play). The few times he attempted stacking them, he usually tired of it within seconds and soon was back to his books.
One day last week during Alexander’s playtime, I was fooling around with my new jade bracelet, slipping it on and off my wrist. Alexander looked at me and my wrist, and after a loud “la!” he began pulling the rings off the stacking tower, and slowly threading them all onto both of his arms. I handed him two additional rattles, which he happily added to his full arms. Soon, he was smiling and clapping with his plastic ring-laden arms. And to think that I was worried about his hand-eye coordination. It just goes to serve that most of the time, we just need to relax and let them figure things out!