Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dear Daniel, (Happy Second Birthday!)

Taken this morning (on your actual birthday).
Hey, Daniel! You're two years old today!

You're a really fun kid, Daniel. Even when we're having a really rough day, I can't help but notice something about you that's just delightful: your joyful laugh, your acute perceptiveness, the freedom in your play.

Every day, I'm surprised by the ways you're developing language. You understand so many things, and you can imitate most of the words we say fairly well, too. You're using quite a few simple sentences, and some longer ones, too. One morning, for example, you came up to me and said, "Where's Eddie?" then you pointed to him and said, "Eddie right there!" You're also using pronouns more lately, including me, you, and him (as in, "Night-night, Eddie. Hug him."). It's fun to be able to have (two-way) conversations with you and to get some insight into what you're thinking about in any given moment.

My favorite new word of yours is "mo-ko-cock-aye" (guacamole) and my favorite new phrase is, "Wah-doo, Momma" (Love you, Momma), though "Happy birthday, Papa" is right up there, too!

Freshening up at Powell's Books
Several weeks ago you got some scrapes on your knees from playing outside. Well after they had healed, you were still talking about your scraped knees, pointing to the places where the injuries had been (your providers call this "perseverating," which basically means you talk about things for a long time after they happen). It progressed to where you started calling any injury you got a "scraped knee," and now I have to ask you where your scraped knee is so I can locate the bump or bruise of the moment. It goes something like this:
Daniel: Momma, scraped knee!
Momma: You have a scraped knee?
Daniel: Yeah.
Momma: Where's your scraped knee, Daniel?
Daniel: Face!
Momma: You have a scraped knee on your face!?
Daniel: Yeah!
Momma: Aww, I'm sorry your face hurts, honey. Do you want me to smooch it?
Daniel: OK. [laughs]
Now, not all injuries can be fixed with Momma's kisses, but give you a tissue, and that's a whole different story! (My parents—your grandparents—are going to get a kick out of this one because I used to be totally into band-aids as a kid, always asking for one to relieve all my small ailments.) You love to have a tissue ("eee-eew") whenever you're upset. Regardless of whether you need to wipe your eyes or blow your nose from crying, you want a tissue to rub on your bonked head or stubbed toe. I always oblige because hey—there's no harm in it and it makes you feel better. There's really something to be said for a tissue (or a band-aid ;) every now and then just to make everything better.

Other new things, in no particular order:
  • You seem to be developing a particular affinity to art and music: you love to sing and dance, and you ask to draw whenever you see a pen, marker, or crayon. You were gifted some musical instruments for your birthday today, and they're already a hit!
  • You know the names for all the colors, but when asked what color something is, you almost always say, "ellow." I'm not sure why, but I guess you just dig yellow. Works for me!
  • You really love going outside ("ide"), particularly to go on bike rides. I bike us to your OT appointment every week, and I think you look forward to it all week long. Now that the weather is warming up, we're going on more rides, in no small part to your enthusiasm for the activity. It's just so fun to see you getting all geared up to go, reminding me of all the steps we have to take before we're ready to leave. "[Sun]glasses on! Hat, too! Seat...buckle! Bike ride! Go-go-go!" I really can't ride fast enough for you—you love feeling the wind and enjoying all the sights and sounds.
  • Last month you started walking down the stairs facing forward, which felt like a big milestone to me. You still sometimes go down backward when you're by yourself, but usually you navigate the stairs just like all the taller people in the house.
  • Ketchup!
  • You don't mind getting messy as much as you used to, which is great (because you don't have an aversion to it) and also challenging (because, well, you're messier now!). Papa and I encourage appropriate messy play when we can, and you rarely freak out when your hands are messy anymore.
  • You are currently showing a preference for your left hand. I know you're still a bit young to be displaying handedness, but I've put off writing about this for about four months now and it only seems to be getting more pronounced. You use your right hand for plenty of things, but when drawing or doing other one-handed activities, you actively switch to the left hand (if you happened to pick up the crayon with your right). Your OT is very impressed with your writing grip (apparently it's advanced for your age) and your ability to imitate the things she draws (vertical and horizontal lines, circles, etc.).

We've been having more tough days than any of us might like lately because we're working with a new doctor to help regulate your neurotransmitter levels with various supplements, and the dosage and timing of those is a little tricky. Over time, though, I've started to notice a shift in the ways you're experiencing and interacting with your environment. You engage with people more, you seem to be happier more of the time, and (given the right circumstances) you're more willing to explore things without Papa or me right there by your side. I have great hopes that this means you're learning the skills you need to be able to more easily navigate a world that isn't set up for kids like you. We're all working very hard at this (most of all, you) and I think our hard work is paying off in the way you feel day-to-day. This makes me feel so happy, Daniel, to know that you're doing better and that we're doing right by you.

Turning two feels like a big milestone, little one. There are lots of not-so-pleasant things said about being two, but you already know that it hasn't exactly been a cake walk for us thus far. Partly because of that, I know we will be able to get through whatever comes next and we'll learn a lot from the process. I'd like to think of this next stage you're embarking on as just as valuable and potentially enjoyable as any other. I see your current expressions of independence as a sign that you're beginning to become your own person (which all of us have to do at some point in our lives).

I'm still having trouble believing that it's been two years since you were born at home on that cool, rainy morning. You've changed so much since then, and in some ways I can look back and see who you are in the ways you expressed yourself from the very beginning. It's really incredible.

Here you are in the car this morning, talking about turning two:

I love you too, baby, so very very much.
Happy birthday.



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