"Buh! Buh! Buh!" Roo insists, his hands clasped together over his head. This is how he asks for help.. which generally comes after he throws something to a place where he cannot retrieve it. He is sitting at the top of the stairs, which means that he has found something that will fit through the bars of the gate, thrown it down the steps, and now wants me to play fetch.
"Buh!" he repeats to me. "BUH! BUH!"
"No, sorry," I answer, "you're not getting it back."
He instantly breaks into the most heartbreaking cry he can manage... for approximately 3 seconds. Then he shuts it off as quickly as he started it and hops off to find something else to toss down the steps. And when I say that he hops, you should picture a frog hopping away, because that is truly what he looks like. This is his version of crawling. He can do a "regular" crawl--the one that you see pretty much every other baby in the world do--but that is so... well... regular. Boring. Unoriginal. I have never seen a baby hop like this. He loves it. I love it. Everyone who sees it loves it. It's the cutest thing you can imagine.
Then it's time for dinner. My forever-picky child manages to choke down half a container of baby food veggies and a few bites of rice while the rest of us devour whole plates of baked chicken, rice, watermelon, and salad. We talk and laugh, we play a few table games, and slowly Roo selects which bites are acceptable and which get rejected. Mr. Fantastic clears the plates and gets each of the big kids a small bowl of ice cream. Still I sit, patiently (for a change) waiting for him to sign "all done." He doesn't, but I am about to give up anyway, when he suddenly starts signing "EAT!" And yes, I am certain he would sign it in all caps with an exclamation point if he could. He wants to EAT! NOW. Surprised, I pick up the spoonful of veggies and move it toward him, but he pushes it away. I pick up his bottle and hand it to him, but he throws his head back and cries.
Duh, Mom. He sees the ice cream.
Quickly determining that A) he has eaten enough veggies and rice for one meal and B) this kid needs the calories (earlier this month, a full 2 months past his 2nd birthday, he finally weighed in at 20 pounds!), I get him a bowl of ice cream. After every bite, he claps. It's the cutest thing you can imagine.
After dinner, Mr. Fantastic heads outside to secure our backyard fence with the two big kids. Our dog has been visiting the neighbors, and they have very nicely said that they don't need an extra pet, so it's time to put a stop to the escapes. I have come down with a nasty cold--my second virus in a week--so I stay inside to play with Roo. It's a rare chance for some one-on-one time, and I decide to make him work. Since he got his DAFO's (Dynamic Ankle Foot Orthosis--foot/ankle braces... we call them "Spiderman feet" because they have pictures of Spidey all over them), he's getting closer and closer to walking, and I want to test his limits.
He stands at the couch, where I have put his favorite toy--one that looks like a CD player and plays some of his favorite songs at the touch of a button. But after he plays a song or two, I take the toy and move juuuuuuust out of his reach. He plops down and hops over. "Oh, no you don't," I tell him, keeping it away. I stand him back up at the couch, hold the toy where he can't quite get it, and hold out my hand for him to grasp.
But he doesn't take my hand.
He is focused on the toy. His treasure. He's happy, but he is determined.
He turns... he holds out his hand toward mine without actually looking at it... but never actually touches my outstretched fingers.
He lets go of the couch...
And stands. Unaided. All alone. Nothing to lean on.
I silently shriek with joy.
I didn't know it was about to get better.
He is determined to get his prize possession. He now has his hands free, but he still can't quite reach...
So instead of taking my hand... he picks up his foot... moves it forward... and sets it back down.
And he continues to stand.
A STEP! HE HAS TAKEN A STEP! Where is the parade? The confetti? The cheering throngs?!? ROO TOOK A STEP!
It was the cutest thing you can imagine.
And then... he falls. Plops right onto his bottom. I hand him the toy, scoop him up, and run outside to announce to Daddy and the big siblings that the world may never be the same!!!!
Actually, I reign it in a bit for them. Lamb and Monkey are his biggest fans, and if I show them the full measure of my excitement, they'll expect him to start racing them down the driveway. But I do tell them, and they know this is big stuff. It may still be a while before we're seeing him take independent steps with any regularity... but this, my friends, was a milestone moment. His first step.
I take him back inside to play some more, but I don't get to see any more miracles tonight. He is on to my game, and he has twisted it into his own--stubbornly plopping onto his rear end every time I move the toy away, just to see my reaction. This, to a two-year-old, is the best.game.EVER. I believe they call it, "Be really ornery, but do it with a super-cute smile on your face so Mom doesn't get mad." Or something like that.
It is 5 minutes past bedtime before we stop playing, so I hurry to get him ready. My cold is making my head foggy, so I really want to skip the rest of the routine and just lay him in bed.
But then he looks at me and says, "Boo-ah." His hands are pressed together in front of him. To the casual observer, this might look like he's asking for help again, but I know better. "Help" is "Buh!" with his hands clasped over his head. "Boo-ah" (which, honestly, is really pronounced... well... "buh") is said more calmly, with his hands pressed together in front of his belly, and it means "book." My sweet baby is asking for a bedtime story. How can I say no???
I sit down on the floor in front of his bookshelf and set him on my lap. He kicks his legs and laughs with excitement, just like he does every night. It is the cutest thing you can imagine.
I pick out a short board book and read it quickly, letting him turn the pages. I put it away, and he says, "Boo-ah."
I can't resist.
I pull out That's Not My Lion, an Usborne book that is his absolute favorite. We could read it 10 times a day, and he would still laugh hysterically when I turn to the last page and declare, "THAT'S my lion!" It is the cutest thing you can imagine.
He asks for another book, but this time I tell him that we are all done. I lay him in my arms, sing "Jesus Loves Me", and put him gently in his crib with his binky. He smiles at me, rolls over, and goes to sleep. Just like that.
And as I watch my sweet baby boy, who has grown from 4 pounds to 20 pounds... who can say 4 words and sign many more... who loves to make people laugh and knows how to get what he wants... who took his first step today... I think, "He's growing up so fast."
"Fast?" you say. "You think that's fast? He's 2! My kid was walking at 10 months. Saying 4 words at 13 months. He was practically reading by the time he was your kid's age!"
And to that I say... I'm sorry. I'm sorry that it is going at lightning speed for you. I've had two kids like that myself. They grow up in the blink of an eye.
But this time I have been given a gift. This time I get to savor each stage... relish in every moment... experience unspeakable joy with each milestone. I have received the blessing of Down syndrome in my life, and I am incredibly lucky.
This is my Roo. He's the cutest thing you can imagine.
He. is. AMAZING.