Sunday, September 8, 2013

Today Was Different

I heard you this morning, opening your bedroom door, testing the waters, seeing who was awake for you to play with. I heard you sneak to the top of the stairs, whispering to Marley puppy, who was probably half asleep on her bed in the hallway. After discovering that no one was awake I heard you tip toe back down the hall to your room. Your bed creaked as you dumped half your toy box into it and the lights on the baby monitor lit up as you started pressing buttons on toys that sing and beep. I lay in bed, half awake, thinking how far you have come, little one. There was a time that you wouldn't have thought twice about flinging open your door, letting it slam into the wall. You would have run down the hallway and jumped into bed with me, with mere seconds between me and an angry meltdown. No matter how early in the day it would be, no amount of cajoling or redirection would get you out of my bed and back into your own. A tired momma running on not enough sleep and a young child always one inch away from a meltdown- a recipe for certain disaster for sure.

This morning was different. You are learning. Learning to trust. Learning to self regulate. Learning to be patient.

I saw that patience again later in the morning, as you sat in the grocery cart, letting me wheel you about the store. You happily filled your cart seat with lettuce and grapes, cereal and fruit snacks. You didn't whine or throw items out of the cart. You didn't kick me or spit at me. In fact, you made me smile, over and over again. I watched you stick out your tongue as you puzzled out how to rearrange your items to make them all fit up front in your little seat in the cart. I remember a time when you would have screamed and thrown the items out in a fit of anger. I parked the cart and walked away from you to read labels and you played with the bags of lettuce and grapes. There was a time when not only could I not walk away from you, but I would have to shop with one hand on you at all times, holding your hands or your feet down to prevent the constant hitting and kicking.

This morning was different. I am learning to trust you. I am learning to let you regulate. I am learning to be patient right along with you.

You hopped up into the booth at lunch, thrilled to have been allowed to choose the restaurant. You chose B.C. Roosters, because you like the chicken on the sign. You asked for my iPhone and then asked me to play with you. How could I refuse?  You sat still, and halfway through the meal I realized that I had not bothered to move the box of condiments away from your little hands. usually this is my first job, done without even thinking. But not this time. You ate, a little, and you talked, a lot. You made me laugh with your silly faces and your thousands of questions. You even let me take you  the bathroom before we sat down, understanding that even if you had to wait for a few minutes, you were, in fact, going to get to eat. Overcoming that fight or flight instinct has not been easy, but you are doing so great.

You helped me carry in the groceries and then you played, by yourself. You dressed yourself up in a winter hat and gloves and took the dog to the back yard. I caught glimpses of you as I moved about the kitchen putting away the groceries. You smiled as you ran around the yard, screaming happily as the puppy chased you. When you came inside you asked to play a game, and then you waited until I was ready to play. You didn't scream or throw the game. You sat down on our new kitchen floor and waited. And talked. And asked a thousand more questions. And then we played, together.

This afternoon was different. You are learning to relax in your own home. You are learning to be  a part of a family.

Later in the day we made cookies, and you watched my fingers as I folded up the dough and pinched it tight. Your fingers did the same. Slow, thoughtful fingers, folding the dough up over the apple filling. You did not get frustrated. You asked for some of the apple filling to eat and you carried your bowl of sweet goodness so carefully across the kitchen to the table. To your chair, to your spot at the table. I heard you say to yourself, "This is my chair. Alex's chair."

You asked to turn on the TV so you could watch Curious George. You sat down on the floor as the light on the TV flickered on. A few minutes into the show you came to sit next to me on the sofa. You do this a lot- always sitting near me, but not close enough to touch. Even if you are on my lap you are rigid, rarely allowing me to touch you more than what it takes to keep you from falling off. You scooted closer. And then closer still. You moved my arm and snuggled under it, letting my arm fall onto your side. You rested your head against my body. I felt you melt, relax.

That was very different. You are learning to be with others. You are learning to love.

I looked around the room, wishing my husband was home. Wishing anyone was around to witness this amazing event. You stayed close, tucked up under my arm, for the rest of the show. You then pushed off of me, racing to turn off the TV and already on to your next adventure. I didn't want to move. I could still feel the warmth of your little body.

Much of your calmness today was brought on by being alone with me, I am sure. Some of it was brought on by the therapy programs we have you in. I take a deep breath, knowing that dinner, bath, and bedtime may still go terribly awry, as they often do. But even if they do, once you are finally in bed, once your tears, and my tears, stop and once I can hear your slow breathing on the baby monitor we still keep in the living room, I will sink down into the sofa and wrap myself in the memory of your little body relaxing into me. It may sound like a small thing to someone else, but to me, you crossed a huge mountain today. And when it's quiet, when your thousands of questions have stopped, when your singing and constant chatter have quited and my mind can think again, I will replay those moments in my mind, over and over.

Learning to let you be you, and learning to love you in the moment, wherever you happen to be, has not been easy for me. But today was different. I am learning right along with you.

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