June must have been a very quiet month — I didn’t take a single picture on my “real” camera, and the photos on my phone and Tim’s don’t show much action. Or maybe it was a really busy month, so we didn’t have time for photo/video shoots? I can’t remember. Here is the update from our June journal.
In a matter of days, it seems, Soren went from having a vocabulary of about three words (mama, dada, yeah) to now knowing every word in the dictionary. It’s so fun to hear him say words I had no idea he was aware of. Note that he typically turns mute if I try to get him to perform on video. (He still signs here and there — in this video he does “love” and “rock.”)
Despite my best efforts to keep the word “no” out of our house, Soren came home from Minnesota in May with some interest in the word. It took a couple of weeks, but I think it’s safe to say we’ve eliminated it from our family’s vocab again. He had taken to growling the word (as seen at the start of this video), so I would ask him to try again with a nice word; in response he’d say, “yeah.” And now we’re back to a no-free household.
As usual, we spent a good part of each day at the parks near our house. Some days we don’t even make it to the actual playground because he spends so much time wandering around the park gathering rocks and sticks.
Now let me talk for a minute about something that changed my life. (I’m mainly telling this long story for anyone who could benefit from the program but may not know about it… so all others should feel free to skip right ahead.) A couple of months ago, I had a few different friends from community playgroups tell me about the services they’d used from the Massachusetts Early Intervention program. I’d heard of EI before but didn’t think much about it since I knew it was a service we didn’t need. But the friends who told me about it weren’t the types who “needed” assistance either. One friend’s daughter qualified for the program because she wasn’t talking much at 18 months. Most kids I know aren’t talking much at 18 months. Soren certainly wasn’t, but I wasn’t worried about it. He crawled “late,” he walked “late,” and he was right on track to talk “late.” But his comprehension and communication skills (I mean, he had a signing vocabulary of 40+ words) were excellent. He was perfectly healthy, very happy (even if he wouldn’t crack a smile or show emotion to strangers), and was (and still is) such a good listener and direction-follower. So again, I wasn’t the least bit worried. But when my friends talked about how neat it was to have an early childhood educator come to their homes for an hour each week simply to play with their kids, I was intrigued.
So I had Soren tested. The evaluators came to our home and asked me various questions while playing with Soren to determine his cognitive function, fine motor and gross motor skills, his ability to communicate, etc. Thanks to his non-verbal communication, he qualified! (Their development checklist suggests 15-18-month-olds should be repeating two-word phrases — Soren definitely wasn’t interested in that.) They had me outline a couple of goals we would work on, and it was then that I learned they were perfectly trained to help Soren’s inability to separate from me. I threw out the goal to work on his language (since I knew that would come in its own time) and decided we should work toward getting Soren comfortable with other adults and helping him learn to be happy without me in the room.
So Soren’s “development specialist” started coming over once a week, and we LOVE her. Her degree is in psychology and child development, and she and Soren are a lovely match. She brings fun toys and games along, and I’ve learned a lot from her about new ways to play with Soren. And since she’s over for an hour, I can usually get dinner prepped and the kitchen cleaned while watching my baby learn and grow and have a grand time.
He also got a spot in one of the toddler groups (like a mini preschool) at Thom Boston Metro. It’s one day a week for two hours, and the parents don’t attend. The kids are in small groups, and there is generally a 2:1 ratio of kids to teachers. I had mixed emotions about this. Based on how he’d done with our church’s nursery (or rather, how he had not been able to attend nursery on his own) I was expecting to stay by his side at this group and for the rest of his life. The head teacher of the class recommended staying with him the first session, staying just an hour the second time, and only 15 minutes the third time. I assured her Soren would need much more time than that. But, to my absolute shock, Soren did OK without me for about 45 minutes during his second session (pacifier required)!And by his fourth time, I played with him for 15 minutes, asked for a kiss goodbye, and walked out of the room without him minding one bit (and no pacifier this time!). I was glued to the two-way mirrors the entire hour and 45 minutes, certain he was going to break down at any moment and need me. But he was happy! He played with the train table and the sand table and the kitchen and the farm. He did an art project and went to the gym to play on the slides and in the ball pit and on the trampoline. And he had snack time and circle time and didn’t appear to miss me once. And after singing the goodbye song, he came out the door to find me and had the biggest, proudest smile on his face — like he knew he had just accomplished something totally awesome.
So, long story short, if your kid can qualify for your state’s Early Intervention program, USE IT. We’ve had only the most positive experiences with Thom Boston. And Soren’s successes have translated to other areas of his life. He’s now a pro at nursery at church, he can finally handle the child care at my gym, and he has a grand time with his babysitter a couple mornings a week while I work. I love knowing that he’s learning and playing in different ways from the methods I provide him. And that is my testimony of Early Intervention.
Sometimes when I’m posting all these photos and videos, I wonder if anyone is judging Soren’s wardrobe. Is it normal that I change him into pajama pants for his naps?
One Saturday I told Tim I’d had a brainstorm about creating my perfect storage solution. We have a huge storage area in our apartment and it had been the largest disaster of my life for most of the time we’ve lived in this house. Picture storage bins and cardboard boxes and suitcases and food storage and baby chairs and bassinets and wrapping paper and craft supplies and more and more and more — all strewn about haphazardly. And of course it costs one million dollars to buy shelving systems that are sturdy and just the right size and shape. So off to Home Depot we went, with Tim grumbling all the while.
Tim and I aren’t the handiest with tools and building stuff, but look what we (mostly he) did! I couldn’t be happier.
It’s really fun to watch this kid eat. Any food that doesn’t get eaten quickly turns into a train or a truck or a tower.