What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting Normal

13 11 2008

What we’ve got here is a case of uneven development. And I’m not talking about that whole one-boob-is-bigger-than-the-other thing, which, as we all learned in junior high health class, is completely normal. This, I’m quite sure, is not normal. The Blister Family does not do normal. Not even Baby Squiggles.

When I last spoke directly about dear baby Squiggles, it was because suspicions had been raised about her having her very own place on the Autism Spectrum. Nothing much has changed there, but I can report that her language development has taken some wacky detours in the last few months. After getting and then losing the word Cat, then getting it and losing it again, Squiggles moved on. To another weird first word, or more appropriately, words. Red Dog. Her first official words were Red Dog. Clear as a bell, and often directed at actual red dogs. But then she became more indiscriminate and started calling everything Red Dog. Then she lost the Red part. Then she started calling our cat a dog, and laughing manically every time she did it. As if she knew that that was a surefire way to piss off the cat. Now she calls all cats dogs. But she calls a cow a cow and mooos. She cock-a-doodle-doos too. And she calls a frog a frog. Yep, that’s right. My 11 month old can say the word frog. With the eff. What the eff? Frog is totally not a normal early word! Then again neither is yellow, but she can say that too, with a marvelously rolling elle sound. It is also not normal for an 11 month old to be able to sit in front of a group of toys, be asked to hand a specific one to her mother, and to do it. Several times in a row, with several different toys and no help. But Squiggles does this. I have witnesses. I have video evidence. She also sits in front of the mirror looking at herself, stroking her tiny sprout of hair, repeating Head. Head. Head. Like she knows that there’s some crazy shit going on up in there, and it sure as hell ain’t hair growth.

Here’s what she does not do: she does not babble. Never did. At all. No goo goo gaaa gaaa bababa. She either says what something is, tries to say what something is, or says nothing at all. Or calls it a dog to see if it gets pissed off, then laughs like a lunatic. She does not crawl. She scoots along on her bum, essentially paddling herself across the floor with her legs. Maybe not as fast as crawling, but as Squiggles is keenly aware, it leaves her hands free for more important things. Like picking little dut-duts off the floor and jamming them into her mouth when she thinks no one is looking. Or carrying her Frog across the room without resorting to holding it in her teeth like a common cur. Or flinging blocks at her sisters to get their attention as she yogic-flies toward them, plotting to eat their library books and My Little Ponies before launching herself up to the clouds with one mighty push of the bum.  The scoot also lets her kick stuff. Squiggles loves to kick anything that gets in her way, and she’s got great aim and a surprising amount of power. ( As an aside, I’m considering sicking Squiggles on Brandee Connely the next time I see that kid laying on the playground field, cackling at her own original wit in calling another kid Broccoli. See how she likes a baby calling her dog, then kicking her in the ear while snatching her library book.) As a former bum-scooter myself, I like to think that forgoing the whole silly crawling business is a sign of serious intelligence. An evolutionary leap – or scoot – if you will. Even though I know it is kinda sorta a sign of atypical development. And that because of crawling’s associations with the development of spacial awareness and body co-ordination, I might as well just hire Squiggles a math tutor, and cancel our registration in the mother/daughter Hip Hop Ballet Salsa Synchronized Ice Dance Talent Show right now.

Squiggles also does not stand. Not interested in that right now, thank you very much. In fact, it’s hard to get her to bear weight on her legs at all. And she still can’t roll over by herself, although we’re making some progress on regaining that. These are flat-out developmental delays. I know this because I’ve seen them before. I just keep reminding myself that developmental delays are just that: delays. It does not mean she’ll never walk, or that she’ll have to sleep upright when she moves out on her own because lying on her back still leaves her flailing around helplessly like a turned-over turtle, and will for the rest of her natural life. It just means that it will take more time, and some extra effort on all of our parts. And it means that I should prepare a stockpile of responses to repeat to people when they otherwise expect Normal where Normal does not exist. Junior high health class taught me that normal is a fine way to describe uneven boobs. Life has taught me that normal would be an entirely too dull, and incredibly inaccurate way to describe the Blister Family. Even Baby Squiggles.

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2 responses

13 11 2008
Papa and nanny

Squiggles mom never crawled, got teeth very late,spoke exactly the way Squiggles does only earlier,had two left feet when it came to dancing, probably could have swam the English Channel at 8 had i let her go, could express herself to the amazement of all in comlpete and complicated sentences at18 months. She was born to think differently and had more imagination than twenty kids. She was always aware of the world around her and in her way understood it and delt with it. If it’s in the cat ,it’s in the kittens I couldn’t have been prouder even when she drove me nuts.Talk about your beat of a different drummer! Besides ,normal ain’t all it’s cracked up to be!

13 11 2008
trish

Yeah, what the eff is normal anyway, who the hell is normal, cause either they think you are ‘normal’ when you are a kid and you need meds as an adult or they think you are cracked as a kid and you turn out to be Einstien or Warhol or someone like that. All kids here in the last 10 years who have scooted, walk, every damn one of them, are they missing a spatial relation or two, probably, but who asked them to move furniture anyway…. Love squiggles, neener and roo, help them, guide them and they will find their way, and most cats think they are dogs anyway…

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