Dexter’s birth was a difficult one. The hardest of all five children. A very long (for me) labor and all in my back. When he finally came into the world, I was overjoyed. His tiny face that reminded me of my brother and sweet little disposition. Long and skinny, he wasn’t a “Gerber” baby but he was so cute and perfect to me.
Dexter walked early and had mad motor skills. He started to talk like what I thought a normal child would but then, it just stopped. And his lack of language made him frustrated and angry. He was so, very, angry all the time. And when got pregnant with his brother that just fueled his frustration fire. We sought help for him a little before he was 3. I probably waited too long. But there is that fear with an angry, speech delayed child and I admit, I just hoped and prayed one day he’d wake up and be “normal”.
What I missed was that he was and is normal. His own normal. Our development journey is an easier one, luckily. He is not autistic and likely will catch up with his peers. I’m forever grateful for that. And while I know that Autism is not the worst thing ever, I am grateful he will not have that very difficult journey.
Dixon will be three in August. His vocabulary has recently exploded. He’s funny and makes jokes. You can actually have a conversation with him. He can tell you what he needs. It’s a beautiful thing.
This week we were in the kitchen making supper. Dixon asked and answered questions. When he said, “oh mama you’re mean”, I made a sad face and he quickly replied, “just kidding”. For a moment I felt a mourning for those conversations I missed having with Dexter. And I missed them because of his speech delay. I missed singing songs with him in tiny form and while I get to talk about the moon and stars now, I will never have those funny conversations with my new talker, whose body size matches his mastery level. His tiny body never sat on the counter and named the letters. As a matter of fact, at almost five, Dexter is still struggling with things Dixon is nailing quickly. It’s a difficult thing not to compare. A difficult thing not to feel guilty about.
We’ve added special instruction to his therapies. We’re hoping by the time this preschool year completes, he will be closer to being on track with his developmental delays. I’m worried about kindergarten, to say the least, but feel like holding him back a year isn’t the best thing for him. Although the days when he screams at me, “I don’t want to go to school!!!”, I second think my decision. Hee hee.
We’ve begun meeting with the schools and I don’t think I’ve asked so many “W” questions to a child in my life. We’re working through pronoun confusion and I am wishing I paid more attention in school. Maybe through his educating, I will re-educate. Except for math, because let’s face it, I don’t get it. You really don’t realize how important the basics are till you have a child who doesn’t quite get it.
I am trying not to mourn what I missed with him. Tiny 2-year-old chatter. I’m trying to take in my 4-year-old’s curiosity about the moon and art and fairy tales. He may always march to his own beat, and that’s okay. He might always have an angry fire and I will have to help him learn how to use that for the greater good; for knocking down the right walls, instead of the wrong ones. I will always have a little sadness he wasn’t given a “normal” that is a societal normal and that’s okay. But I can’t let it shape him or me.