As the weather has improved Timothy and I have taken a lot of trips in the jogging stroller. We usually jog through a nature area and I find a good, small stick for his entertainment. T likes to examine the stick with the eye of a quality control person, then often drags the stick along the ground behind him and pokes out at the bushes as we roll past. Now, if this sounds less than clean or even dangerous, don’t worry — our stick in mouth ratio has recently been improving and our stick in eye statistics are among the best in the neighborhood.
Disclaimer: Don’t linger over this next section if you’re eating.
We’ve had a few unfortunate ‘Code Brown’ incidents recently, ranging from one evening when Laura turned to me and said, ‘Oh no, is that poop on Timothy’s hands?’ (which is never a good sign if you’re even asking that question of your fully clothed toddler) to the red rug that a recently bathed and naked Timothy may have ruined in another emergency — ironically in the same room and in the same fashion that our old dog Charlie ruined a rug during our 2007 vacation out East, much to the chagrin of our young neighbor who thought she only needed to worry about the house.
We’ve said that while Timothy appears to be thriving in most areas, we’re concerned about his delay in speech and language. Again, it’s hard to say whether it’s a real problem or just a delay that is common for kids with Down syndrome. We know that it’s too early to be really worried, as even with Down syndrome, there is such a wide spectrum of speech development that he could be on the outer edge of that range and it may be awhile before he’s talking.
And we’ve talked with specialists and other families, and we’ve heard stories of kids who talk quite late and end up doing just great.
But alas, as many charming qualities as I possess, patience is too often not in abundance. There is no arena in which I have more patience than when I am with Timothy, and no place that I have less patience (or maybe just worry) than with his development.
And so Laura and I are addressing the speech situation like there may be a problem and then look forward to being proven wrong in the near future. In the most recent episode, Laura took Timothy to a speech evaluation, and was told that he may possibly have an issue that is limiting the movement of his tongue. I’ve never understood the purpose of the tongue beyond something to stick out at siblings to express a healthy ‘I told you so’ and something to get stuck on metal surfaces in the dead of winter (with apologies to Ralphie in ‘A Christmas Story’). But it turns out that the little guy is important for an awful lot, including proper eating and speaking. And so we’re trying to understand whether there may be some issues in that area and, if so, to what extent it may be hindering him and what we can do about it. But even if he has this condition, it feels good to start identifying some concrete issues and trying to work on them.
I forgot to mention that shortly after our return from India, we agreed to host a Rotary exchange student, Giuliano, from Milan, Italy, for the last two months of the school year. Some would question the wisdom of allowing a cute, charming Italian boy to stay in our house, but we’re already dealing with an eighteen year Swede in India dating our oldest daughter, so a southern European staying in the basement doesn’t seem so silly. Besides, Giuliano has been wonderful with Timothy, though we’ll need to limit TRBL climbing all over him since Giuliano got a sudden introduction to the American medical system after he broke his collar bone tonight playing rugby. Ouch.
When we put Timothy down at night, we’re being more deliberate about putting him in his crib when he’s tired but not fully asleep. Our pediatrician talks about the importance of kids being able to ‘self soothe’ or ‘self calm’ themselves, in this case to get used to settling themselves to sleep (welcome to the real world, toddlers!). And Timothy goes down really well, sometimes reaching out with a hand to make sure that he’s still in the company of a stuffed animal or two. But occasionally, as you lay him down on his little back, he looks up at you incredulously, like he’s thinking ‘wow, I gotta think that other kids’ parents are putting a little more effort into this bedtime thing and finishing the job.’
Speaking of bedtime, Timothy was sitting in my lap last night as I read the book ‘Harry the Dirty Dog’ to him.
He was holding the book, and on a page containing a picture of the dog (Harry), I asked Timo ‘Can you point to the doggie?’ and he immediately pointed down at the dog.
He turned the page, to a page once again containing a picture of the same dirty dog and so I again asked him, ‘Can you point to the doggie?’ and once again he did not hesitate to point down at the dog.
He turned the page, to a page containing a picture of the mom and kids, I asked him, ‘Can you point to the mommy?’ and he immediately pointed down at the mom.
Then he turned the page again, to a page containing a picture of a dad and mom and kids, and I asked him, ‘Can you point to the daddy?’ and he immediately pointed up in the air. I couldn’t figure out what he was doing, until I realized that he was actually pointing at… me.
Those are the precious moments that almost make those ‘Code Browns’ worthwhile.