Monday, 5 May 2008

Blooming children...

All the hedgerows and woods around here are full of the heady scent of wild garlic, with bluebells, cowparsley, cherry blossom and campions blooming a riot of purples, creams and pinks.

The fields look like someone clicked the 'fill' icon on a computer draw program in the patchwork of deep greens and bright, bright yellow rape seed.

Today was warm, close and muggy, with a rain so light it felt like someone walking in front of you spritzing you with an enormous spray bottle. There are ducklings, lambs, cygnets, babies and bumble bees and I am filled with the sappy, metaphor-abounding , cliche-ridden joys of spring. Breath it in.

Its not just the out doors that is blossoming. Every so often I am completely caught off guard by the boys, and how quickly they are changing.

I'm already feeling the strange grief at the loss of the tiny baby in Noah, who at 8 months is showing his personality. He is affectionate, giggling, squealing, babbling. I am starting to see more and more intentionality and association in his actions. My personal favourite is the way he cuddles up on my shoulder or nuzzles my face while making completely, melting-ly adorable 'ahhhhh' noises in imitation of us. He point blank refuses to crawl or any variation of the above. Did I mention before how I lied to the health visitor about his developmental accomplishments because I'm completely not worried? Well, still not. Frankly would you try and drag your tiny, uncoordinated body and huge head across the room for a wooden block, with plenty of adoring people to just pass it right to you??

Amongst those adoring people in Noah's life is suddenly Jamie. Our no-drama approach to the 'hurting babies' thing seems to have worked, and he has moved through this testing of emotions time into sudden brotherly affection, protection and even camaraderie. The two of the will engage in communal raspberry blowing or squealing given half the chance, delighting the the reaction of the other, egging each other on. I get a brief glimpse into my future here and realise I'm totally out-numbered!!

Jamie is also learning to sign in ASL, initially inspired by a desire to communicate with this uncle Danny. This learning is completely his initiative and has caused one of the moments this week where I have simply had to stop and stare at him, this tall, smart, thoughtful boy. I want to tell the story of this sequence of moments here but its a little drawn out. Skip to the bottom now if you're short of time or inclination :)

We chat about Danny fairly frequently. Not so much what makes him different, but more what makes him 'him'. Dan has severe autism and things are unusual in his relationships to others, including limited speech. This won't come as news to any of you who spend time with children, but they have a remarkable way of taking all things in stride, and from day one nothing about Dan has phased Jamie.

I am keen on 'please' and 'thank you' being said often in our family and this was the stepping stone to the question 'how do you ask for things if you can't talk?' Well, uncle Dan uses some signs, and we playfully showed Jamie 'please', 'thank you' and 'I need to pee' amongst others. Next we chat about how else we talk with our hands (waving goodbye, thumbs up, stop...) and he started inventing his own ('Please may I get down from the table' with lots of wild pointing, waving gestures where he nearly knocks his water tumbling onto the floor, and Marti and I are trying so hard to stifle giggles at this earnest display).

This long story ends like this: tonight, a whole day after the signing conversation, we are eating supper and J asks for a drink. He asks twice, but I won't make a move until he says the obligatory 'please' and he knows it, but alas he has put another fork full of mash and peas into his mouth.

I wait, but the drink situation is obviously urgent and we suddenly realise he is signing 'please' in his uncoordinated, 3 year old, but unmistakable way. I am momentarily stopped in my tracks by the way my first born baby has not only remembered the demonstration with no hint to a prompt, but integrated and transferred it to this situation. And he didn't talk with his mouth full. There is hope yet :)

The universe is blossoming everywhere I look.


Louise said...

Wow, children amaze me on a daily basis! How do they LEARN stuff? It makes my head spin.

daydreamymama said...

Hi Kate, What an amazing story! These kids of ours are awe-inspiring. Given half a chance, they will absorb such richness from the environment around them, and reflect it back with unself-conscious generosity. It just makes me think, over and over, that the possibilities in the world are much bigger and more varied than we tend to think.
I love reading your blog!

Also: thanks for your kind comments on mine. I've been responding to you there, but it doesn't seem the best way. I'm new at this blogging thing, so let me know if there's a better one!