I’m not sure why I thought I would have more time to write this summer. I thought I’d have more down time, more time to write, more time to just… be. WRONG. This summer has been great, but boy has it been full! I’m going to take a little break from my flash-back story to give a current-day-recap on what Claire’s been up to lately, because this girl…she continues to amaze and inspire me.
Summertime seems to be the time we see a significant amount of improvement with Claire. Usually, I think it’s the opposite with most kids. Which, I suppose, shouldn’t surprise me that Claire does this backwards, because … well.. that’s just how Claire rolls.
From time to time, Claire comes out of no-where with a new skill and it takes me by surprise. It’s in those moments that I’m reminded that while she isn’t able to verbally communicate with us much yet, she is soaking things in. Because we don’t get a lot of feedback from her and her milestones take quite a while to achieve, it’s very easy for me to get stuck in the rut of treating her more as a baby instead of a toddler; she is three after all. And then these moments happen. Her mind is able to have a breakthrough and I’m reminded, once again, she is capable of more than I can imagine and we need to continuously feed her information so that when she’s ready to show us a new skill, she can shine.
One day in early June, as I was changing yet another dirty diaper (note: she tried to crawl away from me as quickly as possible, but my mom ninja skills caught up to her and I was able to strap her down quickly enough to get the soiled diaper exchanged for a crisp clean one) I saw her pointing and heard her making some sounds. I had to be cautious not to give it away that I was catching on to what was happening because if I showed any sign of excitement, I knew she would stop immediately. I continued to clean up her diaper and focused a little more on her teeny little voice as I heard her say in her quiet yet high pitched tone …”eeee,” “orrr,” “iiiiii,” “iixxxx,”…
OH MY GOSH! She was counting!! All the way to eight! I forgot that I should not get excited and show her how impressed I was and I called for my husband. “Honey! I think she’s counting!” He rushed into the room to listen and sure enough…complete silence as Claire gave us nothing but a blank stare, rolled over, and went back to her Nemo book. Whatever. I heard it. I knew what she was doing, and we would be listening for it to happen again.
Over the next few days, she was quiet, but eventually she caved and started counting again. Not only are these new words for her (although, unless you speak “Claire” you may not realize it), but it showed us she can grasp the concept of counting and sequencing. She’s started counting out toys (preferably her plastic pineapple slices), pictures of items on pages, and will count out how many people are sitting at the dinner table. I’m tearing up as I write this because of how incredibly proud I am of her accomplishment.
And the pride continues…
I’ll be the first to admit, my kids watch more T.V. than I’d like them to. But a lot of times, it’s the only way I can get breakfast ready or dinner made, without tripping over someone, stepping on a tiny hand or foot, or having to play “what’s your favorite shark in the ocean” (for the 50th time that day). One of Claire’s new favorite shows is “Color Crew”. Here’s the run down. It’s another annoying kids show, the crayons color pictures, and the only word a crayon can speak is it’s color (ex: Red Crayon can only say “red”). Claire has this thing for cartoon characters who don’t speak real words. She LOVES minions and Snoopy and anything that makes annoyingly loud high pitched sounds. So pretty much this show is prefect for her. While it’s not my favorite thing to watch, it keeps her attention and low and behold, it helped her with another break through. One day while watching “Color Crew” she starts pointing at the crayons on the screen:
“uueee,” (blue) “reee,” (green) “ooh,” (yellow) “oorrraa” (orange). WHAT! We’ve been labeling and talking about colors for a while now, but I had no idea she knew them and could label them. Mind. Blown. Now that she’s shown us she knows them, she likes to pretend she “doesn’t” know them and calls “yellow,” “blue” as she smirks. She’s such a little turkey!
Those two things alone would have been enough to keep my spirits and hopes high for a while, but she didn’t stop there. Last summer Claire started walking with (a lot of) support, whether it was holding our hands or cruising the furniture. I was quite optimistic that by October of last year she could be walking on her own. Fast forward to now (10 months later), and she still isn’t – which is okay. She’s made progress and we’ve seen her exhibit skills that show us her muscles are getting stronger. For the longest time when my husband and I would try to convince her (coax with M&Ms even) to walk to us, she’d take one half-hearted step and then fall face forward (laughing all the while because don’t we all love face planting into the carpet?!). To her it was game, not a chance to improve, so we kind of stopped for a while.
Well…over the last few weeks, she’s decided it’s no longer much of a game, but a way to get from point A to point B much faster. She’s started testing her boundaries with going from one piece of furniture to the next, taking a few steps independently to get here. Ok, maybe she was ready to walk to us now! We tried again (sans M&Ms) and the little stinker took 7 consecutive steps! At one point she even lost her balance a bit, got into a deep squat, and was able to stand herself back up unassisted (we’ve never seen her do that before!). I’m sure squeals, yells, cheers, and clapping could be heard half way across town. We were elated! Her face was beaming with pride! She has quite a ways to go yet before she’s walking independently, but she’s headed in the right direction.
It takes Claire a long time to master a skill. I feel defeated at times when I see other kids her age running around and having full-on conversations with people. I get frustrated. And then she swoops in with something amazing that reminds me that God is in control. It’s all on His time, and I have to trust. One of my favorite Bible verses presses on my heart. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11.
I can’t give up hope for what I desire her future to hold. I can’t quit teaching her things, even if it seems like it’s not soaking in because I never know when she’s going to show off that she knows it. There are no limits to what she can achieve, even if it takes a painfully long time for it to come to fruition.
It’s been a full summer. It’s been a summer filled with trips to the park, splash pads, the zoo, eating sand, digging in the dirt (and licking rocks…it’s a Claire thing), and long walks around town as a family. This summer has been one filled with many blessings and in a week, she’ll be starting the early intervention preschool through our district. I can’t wait to see what she will accomplish with the care and direction of her teachers (who have already exceeded my expectations in their attentiveness to her this summer) and classmates. I know there will be some growing pains as she adjusts to new schedules and a more structured learning environment, but I’m confident she’ll have a year filled with lots of new learning and personal growth.