What we didn’t know was that by the time you were fifteen months old, you’d be surprising us every single day.
This month you didn’t do much stretching out, but you did your fair share of filling out. You are now an 18 1/2 pound yummy dumpling.
You are cutting three molars all at once, and taking that interesting new development right in stride.
You have a very long attention span, which helps you learn. We have discovered that the key to teaching you is to get your attention, and as long as that door is wide open–input, input, input!
You don’t often have an “off” day.
You readily move your body in ways that wouldn’t hold significance to most people, but which make your physical therapist and me very well pleased indeed.
We are thrilled at how much you imitate our speech, and try to say so many words. We wrote down your word list this week for your new speech therapist, and were stunned to realize that you say over thirty words or word approximations that we can recognize. Almost every day, one of us will say, “Did you hear what Verity just said?” Last night it was “pull,” while you helped me pull on the little pair of Hip Helpers another T21 mama passed on to us.
Yes, I know the photo’s fuzzy, but it is such a classic sweet-Verity-face. *smooch, smooch*
You love music. Love it.
You have a certain facial expression down pat.
We see it a lot. It’s called, “Look what I can do. I am so very, very pleased with myself.”
I used to think that Down syndrome meant that everything you did would be slow.
Was I ever wrong!
Most of the time, we still have to put a little effort into getting you to focus.
But once you are focused, you learn quickly.
Once you are focused, you surprise us with your quick response time.
Once you are focused, you can respond to a command without missing a beat.
Some of our friends are probably nodding their heads knowingly at these words. But we are having so much fun discovering your strengths for ourselves! We just never guessed how cute and smart you would be.
Or how often you would make us laugh with your funny little ways and quick sense of humor!
Anyone who knows the Musser family will recognize the smile. Yup, we’ve seen that one before!
We had heard that you would be cuddly. We didn’t understand that this meant none of us would ever get enough of you!
You draw a certain fierce, proud, protective love out of us.
Protective because we know what the reality is. Some people look at you and see a burden. Some people think that there are males, and there are females, and there are “Down’s.” As if people with Down syndrome are some sort of weird aliens, or at least fall short of being fully human, like the rest of us are. Your mama has come a long way, baby, but she sadly admits that hearing someone call a human being “a Down’s,” or to act like a human being is a hard burden to bear still registers with her.
I’ll get over it by and by. Until then, I will repeat the following truth: Human beings are more than the sum of their special needs, because “God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
We are protective because we are not naive. Because there are people who say that we should get a dog if we want a pet, that you are ugly as sin, that we were criminally selfish to bring you into the world, and that someday we will regret having made that choice when there was something we could have done about it, even if the “something” had to involve a coat-hanger. And that we are in major denial to see you as anything but a tragedy.
Yes, these are things that have been said about you under cover of anonymity. They have it all exactly wrong. Your death would have been the tragedy. What we would have missed! Your life is not a tragedy! Their own tightly-closed eyes and hearts are the true tragedy.
Some may think we have totally lost our perspective on the matter. We don’t mind. We like it this way. And we find ourselves in excellent company.
Verity, why do so many parents of children with Down syndrome feel privileged to have been chosen for this honor, and say they wouldn’t change their child if they could? I hope your friends will please read this Baby Center thread through from start to finish for full impact, and be let in on one of the best-kept secrets of the modern world.
So, my little dumpling-child, what can you do? You can balance. And you know what that word means. And you are very pleased indeed that you can do it.
You can pull yourself up to standing whenever you want to now. You understand and respond quickly to “Stand up,” and “Sit down,” and you say it as you do it, with expression.
You can sit down correctly, by bending your knees and squatting. And your mama appreciates it every single time she sees you do it.
Every week, you get a little better at cruising. Seeing all your gross motor skills, I already feel so well repaid for never having put you into a walker or swing or bouncy seat, and for making you work so hard your whole first year. Nothing is taken for granted.
I promise to keep making you work hard. Because I love you, Verity, more than words can say.
What else can you do, little one?
You can get that balloon to come down here, by putting hand over hand and pulling it down to yourself. And you figured it out all by yourself without anyone showing you how. Of course, we nearly burst our buttons every time you show us how you patiently solve problems like this.
I must apologize here for showing everyone the roof of your mouth. You’re allowed to say, “Oh, mom!” at me, when you see this someday.
You amaze us with your dexterity. You can feed yourself your breakfast oatmeal with your Lil’ Dipper.
And now you can point to things on command. “Verity, where is the balloon? Point to the balloon!” We think your tiny pointing finger is just about the cutest thing! “Baboo,” you say.
We can always tell when you’re getting sleepy, because you don’t smile as much, and it grows more difficult for you to keep your mouth closed. You have to work harder for that small skill than most people do. We are proud of you, our hard-working girl.
When you’re tired (like you were in these photos after John Michael’s birthday party, still awake an hour past your bedtime), you make this face and sing a sweet sleepy song.
And now that you can crawl, you don’t always pose for pictures as well as you used to.
But you are always learning, and it is always a delight to teach you. A delight to see you demonstrate your skills…
…and a delight to see your motivation and determination as you master new ones.
We saw you push your glasses up, and realized we should teach you to replace them if they come off. Sometimes you can do it, sometimes not, but you’re getting better at it every day.
You, small child, are a true delight to our hearts.