There he is. My baby.
My 8 of 8.
The sweet completion of the Carr Family Chord.
He’s the baby by only 4 minutes. It is very important to his 4-minutes-older twin that that age difference be honored.
But the baby still, even by the cadence of 240 seconds.
When it comes to my parenting career, there are innate and learned skills that have seemed to apply across every kid.
There are my kids who have been outliers. The ones who take what I thought I knew about parenting and education and systems and have smilingly, charmingly taken that parenting craft and have let it drop to the floor.
That adorable thing up there? He would be one of those.
While 4 of 8’s hard of hearing status and 7 of 8’s neonatal stroke have made their challenges a known quotient, this little guy has brought his own air of mystery to the parenting table.
He and 7 of 8 were big babies for twins. Born at 35 weeks and a handful of days, he weighed 5 lbs 8 oz and she practically tipped over the scale at 7 lb 7 oz. We were all a bit in awe and their doctor speculated that had I carried them to 38 or 39 weeks, they could have been 8 and 10 pounds respectively. What remains of my shredded abs thanks them for calling it good when they did and making their entrance.
But more and more research is now showing that even though they may be born healthy, babies born just shy of 39 weeks shouldn’t be considered full term (you can click here for an article on this issue). The twins and I left the hospital 36 hours after they were born, with them showing no signs of any challenge.
And then came 7 of 8’s little wonky crawl…and her diagnosis of a neonatal stroke.
But 8 of 8 still seemed to be hitting his milestones…for a while.
He apparently didn’t read up thoroughly enough on milestones. He decided to go a little rogue with it. Sometimes a lot rogue.
Because his twin wasn’t walking, he wasn’t walking. Once 7 of 8 starting walking on her knees, he decided he would too. As her journey toward walking continued haltingly, he followed her lead. I became deeply concerned that he might have experienced a stroke as well that was manifesting itself a little differently. I hauled him into 7 of 8’s therapy team, slightly panicked and overwhelmed. We entered the therapy gym, they began to evaluate him, he saw all the cool climbing stuff, stood up and toddled over.
And it’s sort of been like that ever since. Delay, delay, milestones used as hop-scotch rather than sequence.
He’s six now. Still so much my baby in so many ways. Yet so accelerated in others. We’ve done some speech and occupational therapy in the past. We’re giving it a rest now.
He eventually is getting to those skills that we want to see at this stage. Eventually. And he’s far ahead in others. And far behind in some.
But I’ve learned to trust him. He’s just going to do things in his way. In his timing. And he’s really not all that compelled by what developmental experts have to say.
Case in point: we have worked and worked to get him to choose which hand he’d like to make his dominant one. For a year, he drove his OT crazy.
And now? He writes with both hands. He cuts with both hands. He colors beautifully…with both hands. I do things with him to make him cross the mid-line (very important for brain development)
but…at the end of the day, he actually can do it all with both hands, developmental studies be hanged.
Like I said…parenting skills and knowledge go splat.
His speech development sounds like he went to the School of Yoda. Verbs rushing past labels. Descriptors tagged on long after the subject of his sentences. Rs that sound like Ws and Ys. Odd one he is.
His grasp of some very deep topics is rather stunning, once you unravel his creative structural use of the English tongue.
And there’s this to consider…
He is incredible, delightfully sweet. And social. Probably one of my most gregarious, thoughtful kids in the bunch. And I began to realize, to constantly be on his case about which hand to use and correcting every rolled R and restructuring every sentence was beginning to chip away at all that sweet. He was becoming self-conscious. He was folding in a bit on himself.
I’m not going to do that.
I want him to retain the sweet personality DNA he came with. I want that over hand dominance and perfect sentences. I want his sweet.
So we’ll continue to work on the skill sets that this culture demands. But we’ll do it while honoring what the culture of his heart demands. Validation. Celebration of his uniqueness. Space to be silly. Time to take it slow.
He’s taken me back to the kitchen of parenting. And he’s teaching me new recipe blends.
And this recipe includes a generous helping of space and time.