The First Straw

This morning, we woke up to some odd sounds and shuffling coming from Alexander’s bedroom. When I opened the door to see what was going on, I found I couldn’t open the door fully– because he had emptied his dresser of almost all of its contents. To make matters more…well, powdered, he covered his entire handiwork with a thick coating of baby powder from his diaper station. Lest he be considered messy, he tried to “clean up” by jamming a good deal of clean diapers into all available crevices of his diaper pail. Though we were at a loss for words, he was pretty clear in telling us, “All done night night! Hungry!”

Once again, I find myself wondering where the time went and realizing that months have passed since my last post. I would write something more witty if it wasn’t for the fact that these past few months have been hard. It’s tough enough parenting a toddler full of opinions and energy;  adding in the layers of therapeutic catch-up and development just makes for one cocktail of craziness, shaken AND stirred.

Alexander continues to progress at an incredible rate, though his articulation of his rapidly growing vocabulary is still a challenge. Just tonight during dessert, he pointed to his ice cream spoon and attempted to say “demitasse spoon.” I know, I know, why are we teaching him this?!?! The truth is, as one would expect from any little kid, he’s a sponge for new words and labels. It’s amazing to watch his brain process somewhat complex concepts and start to connect the dots cognitively from idea to idea.

Even with his ambitious cognitive and language progression, we’re still easing him into the world of all things sensory. If you can believe it, it’s taken almost a full year of slow introduction and repeated play for him to enjoy certain textures, like pom poms used for crafting. Last year at this time, he’d maybe stick a finger into a bucket of them in order to quickly extract a hidden toy– it was clear by his face though that he was uncomfortable. Earlier this week, I pulled out the ol’ shoebox of pom poms, a few measuring spoons, and some kitchen tongs to see if we could do a little fine motor skills play. (Plus, the spoons and tongs have allowed him to interact a little more comfortably.) Just for kicks, I grabbed a handful and sprinkled them on my head saying “Sprinkle sprinkle!” Much to my shock, he grabbed a handful and did the same on his own head, laughing hysterically. Words can’t describe my shock and happiness at watching my little boy come to terms with something on his own.

Similarly, we’ve had the same struggle with teaching Alexander how to use a straw. Given his extensive cleft at birth, he never had the opportunity to nurse, hence he never really understood how to create suction. After almost a full year of trying at his pace, he picked up his trainer cup with straw one day last week and started sucking away. The whole process has been incredible frustrating, as his mouth and lip muscles need to be strengthened so he can suck, but then by sucking, they will get stronger for speaking. And trying to explain or demonstrate to a toddler how suction works is as effective as banging your head against a wall repeatedly. Nonetheless, our little guy figured things out, and he’s now loving his newfound universe of silly straws, juice boxes, and fruit pouches.

Even with all the therapeutic work going on through our therapists and our own efforts, we are also enjoying watching Alexander reach milestones of the “typically developing toddler.” (Ha, I love that phrase– as if there’s one toddler out there who sets the curve!) This past weekend, Alexander said goodbye to his crib and enthusiastically cheered for his big kid bed. Though there’s still a fair bit of “wistful reminiscing” for his beloved baby crib (read: naptime howling), he seems to be excited about his growing independence. That combined with his (again) overnight discovery of how to open doors is keeping us on our toes.

Enjoying his big kid bed with his beloved Little Benny and Little Val-tine

Enjoying his big kid bed with his beloved Little Benny and Little Val-tine

While we know that Alexander’s powdery adventures will not be the last of his mischief as he fully embraces the toddler lifestyle, I can’t help but be grateful to see our little boy healthy, happy, and full of life.

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