Timothy usually crawls very quickly from one place to another. However, for some reason he occasionally pauses and kicks out his right foot. It’s funny, but it’s sort of a ‘crawl, crawl, cha-cha-cha’. This isn’t the fastest way to move, but it’s fun to see him spice up his commute with a little Latin flair.
Timothy has some diaper rash and so we gave him a bath last night and let him have some ‘naked time’ to air out the hardware. This included him sitting on my lap while I read to him. It was a helpful reminder that holding a naked baby is a real risk/ reward deal. It’s lots of fun reading to him (the reward) but an infant without clothes is a serious ticking time bomb (the risk). And let’s just say that I absorbed the risk on that one.
When I’m changing Timothy’s diaper and he’s being extra squirmy, I sing ‘ABC’ (the alphabet song, not Jackson Five tune) to him and he usually stays calm. Maybe his peaceful state is due to his desire to learn the alphabet, but it’s more likely that he’s waiting to see if I’ll trip over ‘L- M-N-O-P’.
Last night, even the ABCs did not quiet Timo, and so I decided to break out the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ (which, unlike Beyonce, I did not lip synch). To my surprise, he stood at attention (lying down) while I sang and changed his diaper. I’m hoping that he quieted down because he’s patriotic, but again, he may have just been using his perfect hearing to see if I could hit the high note at the ‘land of the free’.
We’ve written about working with Jan and Joan (from the school district) to help Timothy learn to talk. It’s not unusual for ‘typical’ kids at 18 months to be saying a dozen words, whereas Timothy is just making different sounds and a few letters, though he has been making more progress recently. I’ve spoken with a few parents whose Downs kids are largely non-verbal. A non verbal future would seem very unlikely for Timothy, but if it happened we’d figure out how to roll with it, though that is not a scenario we want to entertain.
But language acquisition is another good example of something that is much more complicated that we ever realized with our first two kids. I’ve been focused on why he’s not making more new sounds or saying more letters. But as Jan has explained, it’s not just about making sounds – it’s also important for him to get in the habit of communicating with us. ‘Communicating’ meaning that he’s telling us what he wants – whether he’s hungry or needs his diaper changed – through signs or gestures or sounds.
This is why many people suggest using sign language initially, to give the child a means to communicate and to develop the skills of communicating what he wants before he has a strong language skills.
Timothy is not using many recognizable signs these days, but in the last month, he’s been communicating in other ways. For example, he sticks his tongue in and out like a lizard to tell us that he wants something to eat. It’d be super cute if he wasn’t ringing that dinner bell all day long. Nutritionists say that, rather than eating three large meals, we’d all be better off eating several smaller meals throughout the day. Timothy agrees with this advice, except for the ‘smaller meals’ part – he sees no reason why he shouldn’t get 8 super-sized meals spread throughout the day. This poor kid thinks he lives on a cruise ship with a 24/7 buffet.
Probably in an attempt to avoid straining a tongue muscle, T has escalated his tactics in recent weeks. He began crawling often over to his high chair and whining to signal that this boy was in need of some eats. We want to reward that he’s trying to communicate with us, but we’d also rather not buy a larger crib, so we’re responding cautiously.
This week, frustrated at the lack of response to his waltz with the high chair, he has decided to skip the middle man and is now crawling directly to the cabinet containing his food. Once there, he opens the cabinet door and tries to empty out the contents before he’s apprehended. You might think that he would feel guilty about his little self-serve escapade, but his body language and facial expression show no sign of remorse. He looks more like he might turn and ask, “What can I get you – teething biscuit, perhaps some diced pears?”
We are pleased with the communication progress, and it’s no surprise that a member of our family would go to such lengths over food. Plus, you have to admire his initiative and tenacity.
But we’re stumped – cooking his own meals, maybe doing his own shopping? What’s TRBL’s next move in this dangerous game of food chess?
Grateful but a little nervous,