The Bean is 2 years old now. It’s odd to think of her as two – she’s still such a baby in so many ways. She scoots around on her bum, but doesn’t crawl or walk. She’s only just starting to learn how to feed herself with a spoon. She doesn’t speak more than one or two words at a time and only has about 30 words/signs to choose from, most of which she still doesn’t use consistently. When we hang out with other kids her age I feel like we’re out of place – we’d fit better with a group of one-year-olds…except that the Bean is right on track socially, and definitely has ideas and opinions that outstrip that of a one-year-old. It’s a weird conglomeration of developmental stages that can be confusing to deal with. In terms of standing and walking, her 7.5 month-old cousin is way ahead of her. And yet when they play together, it’s obvious that she’s older and wiser, and more in control of her body in general.
We recently had the Bean’s semi-annual review with her therapy providers. They were able to put a developmental age to each of the categories that they test: gross motor, fine motor, receptive language, expressive language, and visual reception. In general, even though she’s about the size of a one-year-old, she’s tracking at about 18 months for most things – except gross motor, of course, since she doesn’t even pull up to standing on her own yet.
Some might find it painful or silly or uncomfortable to put an age to her achievements, since her journey is her journey, not to be compared to anyone else’s. But for me, it helps to know what approximate age to think of her as in my mind. It helps me be less frustrated when we’re doing things that her peers have long left behind. It helps me to decide which toys will be appropriate for her abilities, and which skills we might want to work on next. It’s also encouraging for me to see that in the past 6 months, she has improved by 6 months worth. At 18 months, she was assessed at a 12-month developmental age. She’s not lagging further behind, but is keeping up with the tasks we set before her.
Sometimes I wonder if maybe the Bean has lived a few lives before this one. At times she gets so serious and looks straight into my face with such wisdom in her eyes, and it feels like she’s the one teaching me, not the other way around. (Actually, she does teach me things every day.) The tenderness she uses to express her love for someone is so sweet and endearing, and full of something deeper than I’d expect from a 2-year-old. She’s an old soul, and I think that will serve her well as she continues to be challenged by the consequences of her extra genetic material.
I’m reading a book right now called “Choosing to Smile”, in which three cancer survivors talk about their journeys. One of the ladies, Glenda, gives birth to her second son after losing her leg, hip and part of her pelvis to cancer. One day, her 4-year-old son says to her, “Do you know why I chose you to be my mommy?” When she encourages him to continue, he tells her that when he was in heaven, before he was born, he knew that she would need him to push her in the wheelchair when he grew up, and that he had wanted to be there to help her. The story brought up an interesting idea. Maybe children choose their parents. Maybe the Bean chose me to be her mommy because she knew I had things I needed to learn from the challenge of raising a child with special needs. And maybe she knew that I would love her unconditionally, no matter how hard it was to learn those lessons. Certainly God knew those things.
Okay, now I’m crying, so I’ll stop there for today.
Reasons to Celebrate
- Yesterday, the Bean said “wawa” for the first time referring to needing a drink of water. She also used the sign right afterward, which is why I realized that she had actually meant what she said.
- Today, she put 4/5 of her blocks into the shape sorter without my help. I just showed her which hole to put it in. The one she couldn’t quite figure out? The triangle.