If you're a regular reader of this blog (or even if you're not) you probably know that my daughter Ellie has Down syndrome. I thought I'd write much more about Down syndrome when I began this blog, but to my pleasant surprise, Down syndrome is not our life's focus, although that extra chromosome does impact many daily activities.
I mentioned recently that on Tuesday, Ellie had three different early intervention sessions. She's never napped so well, and because therapy was the only thing on our agenda that day, I spent a lot of time thinking about milestones and skills. I spent some time checking out the milestone charts (typical and Down syndrome charts) and mentally reviewing where Ellie has been in the past nine months. Ellie's skills are "scattered," meaning she has some age-appropriate tasks mastered, but she hasn't hit every milestone along the way.
It's the crawling that gets to me. Ellie can push up on her arms. She can get her legs underneath her. She wants objects that are in front of her. She cries her little eyes out when she can't get to them with a combination of rolling and using sad little puppy dog eyes. She hates to practice crawling. I don't understand why, because she loves moving around and playing with toys, and I think her life would be way easier if she could just go get her toys. But Ellie isn't crawling yet. Sometimes, that makes me sad. Her physical therapist is wonderful. We do the exercises. Ellie can do each individual part task required to crawl, but the big picture escapes her.
In those moments, I have to remember the rest of her story. The fact that she started out life with a major surgery and the NICU. The fact that she had open heart surgery, and couldn't really use her arms for six weeks. The fact that she has low muscle tone. And most importantly, the fact that when Ellie is 25, it won't matter if she crawled at 10 months or 18 months.
In the greater scheme of things, I know that milestones are just marks along the way. They certainly aren't the source of Ellie's value. What is valuable to me in the milestone realm is how hard Ellie works, and I think that's part of why I get down about crawling. She works hard, and I am hoping for a payoff in terms of more independence for her.
So of course, on the same day I'm a little bit sad about crawling, here's what Ellie decided to do:
* eat a Cheerio with a pincher grasp
* with assistance, pull to a stand
* play with two objects (one in each hand)
* drink from a straw cup (non-squeezy kind.)
And as proud as I am of all those things, they don't really matter. Ellie isn't more valuable this week than last because she can almost pull to a stand. The day Ellie crawls, we will celebrate, but she won't be any more valuable than she is right now.
Not that I'm going to hold back on bragging. Because Ellie can eat a Cheerio!
Yep, she seems to know right when I'm sad for her, and then she shows off, in order to say, "Mama, I'm just fine."
I think that Ellie is teaching us important lessons on value, especially since we live in an achievement-driven culture. If my kid is the last to crawl, I know she still has worth. I hope I communicate that to her.
On a totally and completely different note, we're gearing up for some holiday fun around here this weekend.
Ellie is ready for the Christmas party season!