Little snippets of our lives lately that say so much about time and progress:
About a year ago we went through a period of months where the Roc stalled bedtime in a very unsavory way. Lots of screaming, raging, and tears. It was utterly exhausting and a terrible way to end the day. I often felt like a failure when I finally left his room. But that was last year. We have a new kind of bedtime stalling right now.
The other night as I sat on the couch reading and GC watched a hockey game the Roc suddenly appeared in the loft above us. “Mommy, I have a loose tooth right here,” he said poking one of his top teeth.
“Alright buddy, is it super loose? Is it coming out? You should be sleeping sweetheart,” I responded while looking over at GC with raised eyebrows.
“Okay, but I need some water,” he said quickly, running into the bathroom. “I’ll just bring my cup in here now, okay Mommy?” he said as he opened his bedroom door.
“Yes baby, just go to bed. It’s time. It’s way past your bedtime. Goodnight.”
“Goodnight,” he said while slipping back into his bedroom, cup in hand.
I stared up at his door imagining him climbing into bed and then GC caught my eye and we grinned across the couch at each other. A year ago I was so exhausted from fighting him every night. I wondered if it was our new norm. A year ago I could not imagine such a calm exchange.
For a long time just getting the Roc to speak his own spontaneous sentences was my biggest wish. I wanted to hear him talk, really talk, with words that he was choosing, not a script. Now he does and I realized that I in my zest for original speech I overlooked manners. We get a lot of “I want” or “I need,” statements to celebrate for sure, but no please or thank you. So I started prompting the “please” and the “thank you” along with the sentence to be in question format (something we still work on from time to time as I do not like to fulfill demands, a polite request I am much more likely to respond to, but the Roc tends to be a demanding child.) It became the norm for me to say “Ask me using nice words,” and “What do you say when someone gives you something?” Months and months, I do not even know how long I’ve been requesting the “nice words,” when suddenly the nice words are coming out without prompting.
“Here you go Roc, here’s your fruit.”
“Thank you Mommy.”
“Oooh, I like to hear those nice words Roc! Good job!”
It still startles me from time to time when I do not have to prompt him, when it is just a reflex for him to say please and thank you. GC and I still nudge each other and lock eyes when he is being polite on his own.
I play every day. Every. Day. How many parents play little people with their 6.5 year old everyday? I’m betting not many, unless they have a kiddo like mine. I’ve been working on play skills for so long, so very long, and they have been slowly emerging and morphing over the last year. When I started to try to teach how to play with trains at 3 years old, I was initially rebuffed, he didn’t want me in his space moving his things around. Then we had to play the same way or he would throw a tantrum, later we had to follow the same script every time, otherwise he would throw a tantrum.
Now, for very short periods of time he will play on his own, usually to set something up that we are going to play together. He will create “bouncy houses” for our little people to have parties, drape towels over his bed to make waterfalls, arrange his instruments for us to have a concert, line up blocks for a runway for his helicopter, design a backyard for the little people castle complete with a pool, patio and picnic table. He can set the scene but he still needs me to move the people with him, play talk and make the little figures have mock conversations.
But he’s starting to get the hang of playing and using his little people or stuffed animals to act out a scene.
“Okay Mommy, it’s time for Kitty’s birthday party!”
“Great, I’ll be right there Roc. Ohhh, can I use the puppy and the elephant? ”
“Yes, and all of these too. They are sitting at the table. It’s time for cake now.”
Me using the doggy, “Yay!! I love cake! Happy birthday Kitty!”
Roc using the kitty, “I like cake too says Kitty!”
It makes me smile to hear him getting the hang of play conversations. He used to answer me as if I were asking him the question instead of whatever little person or stuffed animal he was holding. He’s starting to find their voices now, even if he still adds the “says Kitty” at the end. It’s making playing the same things every day a bit more fun!
Monday morning I was floating in the haze of sleep right before my alarm was set to go off when I heard the Roc’s feet patter into my bedroom. I reached for my glasses as he said, “Mommy, I loseded a tooth Mommy.”
As I cracked my eyes open I saw his little hand stretched out towards me, and sure enough, there was a little white tooth. I pushed myself up while asking him if it hurt, if it fell out on it’s own, and was he bleeding?
“I pulled it out Mommy, it only pinched a little,” he said while placing the tooth in my hand and then asking if he could take a bath. I slipped out of bed and set the perfect little tooth, no blood, on a shelf above my dresser thinking it a safe place for the day until we could leave it for the tooth fairy. We moved on to the rest of the morning, and I forgot about the tooth until again I was relaxing on the couch long after I though the Roc was asleep, when I heard his little voice,
“Mommy, did you put the tooth under my pillow?”
“Opps, I don’t think it is Sweetpea. Let me just run and get it, good thing you remembered! The tooth fairy needs that tooth!” I exclaimed while trotting into my bedroom to claim the forgotten tooth.
“The tooth fairy will turn it into money right? Right Mommy? Right?” the Roc questioned me as I resettled him with the tooth in a little baggie under his head.
“Something like that baby. Remember to look under your pillow in the morning okay?”
The calm manner in which he lost that tooth and then the fact that he remembered later in the day that he lost it, that it was not under his pillow, that it should be, that he would get money for it…amazing. I came back downstairs to a quizzical look from GC. I placed my hands on the edges of the sink, leaned heavily against it, and said, “Can you believe how that all happened today? He pulled out his own tooth like it was no big deal, and then many hours later, after he was already in bed he remembered it wasn’t under his pillow! I’m kinda floored. He’s just been a bit calmer lately, more rational, he still fights me about stuff, don’t get me wrong, but he’s different — in a good way. Do you feel that way too?”
I felt warm and a lump rose in my throat when GC causally responded with a shrug, “He’s growing up.”
Yup, he is.
I don’t know what I thought 3 years ago. My mind was buzzing and fuzzy and I had a list to tackle, everything and everyone else be damned. I know that I was worried about all the “nevers.” Never going to do this, do that, go here, there…you know, the doom and gloom that some professionals dump on you seconds after telling you your three year old is autistic. I know I didn’t think it was possible for them to be correct. How can you look at my child, who has been walking the planet for only THREE years and tell me all the things he won’t do.
Never say never.
My baby is growing up.