“Outside, outside,” says Lola. It’s her new favorite word. It literally emerged from her vocabulary just this week. Up until a few days ago she’d say “bike” which ultimately meant she wanted to go outside. We’ve gotten really good at deciphering meanings behind her words. We used to have to pick up on her communication cues through all other avenues except for language, but she’s starting to use words more predominantly than actions. It’s been nothing short of astounding to witness. She has many more words in her back pocket that seem to appear out of nowhere. Some of them have quite complex meanings behind them and she’s starting to understand that they can be used in multiple scenarios. For example the word “off” — she uses it when taking off her shoe, when shutting off the light, when turning off the phone, when wanting the water off, when taking off her coat and many more instances. I think we hear “off” almost as much as we hear “outside.” Or nowadays “cookie.” She knows where the cookies are stored and she’ll calmly tap on the cupboard while repeating the word over and over. I may give in easier than most moms. I waited over four years to hear her wants, needs or desires so if Lola wants a cookie — well you’re damn right she’s going to get a cookie. What I find most interesting is that if I pause, she’ll now say “quease” as in please. Her tone and emphasis on syllables tells me that she’s been paying attention to the use of this word for quite some time now. It makes me wonder what else is hiding in that wondrous brain of hers.
If I can be frank here, I wasn’t sure if Lola would talk. I always had an inkling that she would sit unassisted, roll over, crawl, walk, run, jump and all of those other big milestones, but talking was something I really was unsure of. It wasn’t that I didn’t have faith that she could do it, it’s just that I was preparing myself for the reality that it may be a skill she wouldn’t acquire. It is the harsh reality of being a parent of a child with special needs. You hope and pray that progression will happen naturally (or with a lot of intervention), but for most of us, there is a looming feeling that accompany the unknowns. Some days the unknowns make life more interesting and some days they can instill a worry that can bring you to your knees. Lola’s talking was a big unknown for me. But she’s Lola and I should have known better. She will always do something when you stop waiting for her to do it. And that’s what I did. I stopped hovering and listening for her words and began to embrace all of the other ways she was communicating with us. Going to the refrigerator meant she wanted to eat yet now she’ll actually say “eat.” Taking off her clothes meant she wanted to bathe and now she says “bath.” Going into the bathroom usually meant she had to potty yet now she’ll say “pee pee” on occasion. Getting her coat meant she wanted to go outside and now she’ll say “outside.” Practically head butting me meant she was giving me a kiss and now she’ll put her lips to mine and say “cap” which means kiss. I love Lola’s little voice and I love seeing the pride she shines when she uses her words and actually gets what she wants. I don’t think my longing for her words was ever out of selfishness — although I do love hearing “Mom.” It was simply because I could see the frustration seeping out of her slaps, her whimpers, her screams and her shouts. She’s known all along what she’s wanted, she just couldn’t find reliable avenues to achieve those wants.
Today is Halloween meaning it’s the last day of one of my favorite months. I love everything about the fall season. The smell, the changing leaves, Michigan apples, pumpkin patches, Halloween decorations, the fun kid activities that are offered, the fact that we can be outside and not be eaten alive by mosquitoes and I especially love the changing temperatures. The air is turning brisk which calls for more nightly snuggles with my babies. My parents were here in late September through early October — it was a perfect time for a visit to Indianapolis. We spent weeks embracing the changing of the season.
A couple of Sundays ago, Rob and I took the kids to one of our favorite parks called Southeastway Park. Upon arrival, I noticed several families sitting for their family portraits. I had contemplated whether or not I would schedule family portraits with a professional photographer like we had done the previous year. Then I remembered how chaotic that process felt. Would the weather be nice? What should we wear? Should I put the kids in different clothes until we get there in case something catastrophic happened? What if the kids were in a foul mood? What if Lola didn’t understand about sitting with us? What if Sebastian cried? And so on. The images turned out pretty good considering our life feels like a traveling circus. But nothing felt authentic or real. It was all staged and now sitting here looking over at our family portrait predominantly hanging on the wall — well it’s rather comical. It looks like some weird version of ourselves. So maybe we just aren’t the family portrait type or maybe we’ll try again in a few years. But on that Sunday, we were all together and the kids were in a delightful mood so I decided to create an impromptu photo shoot. It was a picturesque day with blue skies, a warm sun and the changing leaves provided the perfect backdrop. And I have to say — I love these images. They truly represent who we are as a family. We were having fun, we laughed, we played, we were enjoying the day and, most importantly, we were enjoying being together. These photos are a true representation of who we are.
Now, do we match? Not really. Does our hair look perfect? No, in fact, poor Lola can barely see beyond those thick bangs dropping in her eyes. Would it have been nice to not take the dreadful selfie? Of course. Are they the most crisp pictures? Definitely not, but my iPhone was pretty sufficient. There are probably flaws, but those flaws are part of who we are as individuals and together as a family. These pictures make my heart happy and my husband relieved because now he doesn’t have to hear me freak out over our next family photo shoot.
Happy Halloween from our family to yours! We’ll be Trick or Treating with a Super Girl and a Ninja Turtle. I’ll be sure to post about all of our fun!