When any of my children have reached a growth milestone of some sort there is a distinctive sense of pride when in reality I didn't have too much to do with them rolling over or learning to sit up on their own, but with Elias it's different. The usual reflexes that come and go in the order for children to develop properly need to be encouraged in children with DS. We literally work on each 'reflex' otherwise their delayed development would leave him even further behind.
Elias is rather worn out when we have our physical therapy appointments and despite that he is usually rather good natured about it all. The one thing that has been rough is learning to eat Cherrios by itself.
Cheerios are as innate to American childhood as water is to a tadpoles development. Children rake them with their fingers learning to pick them up and eventually how to feel themselves with the ultimate, the pincher grasp. What I failed to see with my other children is how this occurs in babysteps along the way. Noah's dad has a great entry about it and Elias is at a just one step away from doing it. Unfortunately this skill involves food. Just like with the other two kiddos, he loves food and while its a great motivator for him it also frustrates him to the point he'll actually yell at that little oat-y O!
We had some extra time the other morning and I made the point of not feeding him the Cheerios. It was so hard to see him try and try again and again with no success. He'd begun grunting and banging his table in frustration and then he issued a loud scream. We took a break and after a moment of loving him he tried again. I thought to myself at that time if he didn't succeed I would simply put it in his mouth to save us the trouble.
Here he is enjoying his first homemade cookie!
He grasped it with his pinky and fourth finger agains the palm of his hand and managed to get it wedged between his two finders and his lips. Here we go again, I thought to myself and wanted to save him the pain but somehow with the cheerio stuck to his fingers he managed to strighten them into his mouth and pop the cereal onto his tongue! I was elated and cheered loudly, he sat in shock and then slowly a grin spread across his face as he ate it up. With little feet kicking happily and renewed determination he went for more and succeed a few more times. It was a day of triumph, small but measurable triumphs.
I spent some time thinking about it afterwards and realized how close I had come to taking away his victory all because I couldn't bear to see him struggle. And yet it was the struggle that made the success ever so much sweeter. The funny thing was he wasn't asking me to take away the struggle ( which he does do at times but refusing to take anything with his hands ). It really was me who didn't want to bear the pain of failure when I could so easily rescue him. It was food for thought, both in my relationships with my children and with God. I hope I will work through my struggles with the same tenacity that my littlest man showed me today.