Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In which I discover that I myself am the shallowest person of my acquaintance

I have been in negotiations lately with a county agency to get Gus and Sam (well, actually, mostly Sam) evaluated for developmental delays. Sam has worried me a little for some time now. His gross motor skills are excellent, but he really doesn't use the pincer grasp unless forced to it, and he falls over his own feet like he's wearing clown shoes. Also, he can ignore you like nobody's business. His actual hearing seems to be fine, but if he is busy with something while you are calling him by name, well, good luck getting his attention because hey, dude, he's busy. Of course, his dad also does the ignoring thing. If D is reading something interesting, or engrossed in some problem, you'll have to walk right up to him and touch him on the shoulder to get his attention. He's busy, dude.

But the Easter Seals guy made it here at last this morning, and he and Sam had a little assessing playdate. Well, actually, he and Sam and Gus had the playdate, except that I finally had to cart Gus off into the next room so that the Easter Seals guy could actually assess Sam. To tell the truth, I think that's one of the reasons the boys seem a little behind. Tell me, could you work out your block-stacking skills very well if every time you got a couple of them together, some annoying person came along and knocked them winding? Or else started doing something fascinating on the other side of the room, just begging for investigation? Hm? How much actual work would you get done?

In any case, the nice Easter Seals guy (ESG) will be returning next week to assess Gus, and he only gave me a rough outline of his assessment today. The boys are 20 months and 2 days at the moment. ESG said that Sam's gross motor skills are excellent and he tested at 21 months. (Yay Sam!) But it was downhill from there. He said Sam's pincer grasp was actually pretty decent and his fine motor skills were okay-ish. But he doesn't pay attention when you call his name (he said Sam actually looked at him only one out of five times when he called his name), and his speech is definitely lacking. ESG said the boys would be eligible for free speech therapy when they turn 24 months (implying strongly that boy, howdy, do they need it!). He finished up by saying that both Sam and Gus seem like a "young" 20 months to him.

This is all what I had expected, more or less. And yet somehow, his calling them "young" for 20 months really rankled. But what that mostly pointed out to me is how damned shallow I am. Why on earth does it bother me that they are a little immature for their age? ESG said that he sees kids all the time with REAL problems, and our boys are in no way in that category. He basically said that our kids' problems, such as they are, should more or less straighten out on their own. I should just be grateful for that.

And yet I confessed to D the other day that I have been seized with "baby envy" -- not to have a baby, mind you (since we have the two best boys I could ever even think of!) but to have toddlers that are slightly more intellectually accomplished. My mother had a bazillion stories about how brilliant I was at an early age, and I guess I expected the same of Sam and Gus. Well, A, I am/was a girl, and B, I was a singleton. Boys tend to lag behind speech-wise, and so do twins. (And C, my mother might have been guilty of a slight case of mis-remembering!) So I need to remember that, instead of stewing over my Internet friend V's brilliant kid H, who not only can say at least a version of all three of his names, but can also more-or-less count to ten. Gus and Sam are very interested in counting, but what we get from them is (with appropriate pointing), "Doh, doh, doh, doh, doh, dojo!" Clear enough to this doting mom, though possibly not to anyone else.

And I'm kind of dreading Thanksgiving. Well, not Thanksgiving itself, but the Saturday after, when we are scheduled to meet D's sis, her husband and their toddler Leo ( one week older than our boys, as longtime readers of this blog may recall), who apparently is ready to ship off the MIT for the spring semester. I just know that our day together is going to be filled with little anecdotes about baby Leo's brilliance and perspicacity. And, darn it, probably some on-the-spot demonstrations of same.


Well, my kid can sing the first five notes of the pentatonic scale! In tune! Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Music, music, music!

We have a lot of music going on around here, though most of it isn't that high-flown. For instance, this is D's and my version of "Ba Ba Black Sheep" (which we sing during diaper changes, which take two adults these days since one determined and poopy "roly boy" can easily defeat one adult):

Ba, Ba, Baby, have you any poo?
Yes sir, yes sir, lots for you!
Some for your mother, some for your dad,
Some for your brother, just to make him mad.
Ba, Ba, Baby, have you any poo?
Yes sir, yes sir, lots for you!

As you can see, this is high-class stuff.

I have a musical background (a minor in music, many years of singing in choir, dreams of a musical career before I got a galloping case of GAD, or Generalized Anxiety Disorder -- which I guess means you're just a nut about everything in general). And D is very fond of music too, though he can't carry a tune. (Actually, that's not true. D can sing quite well for about one musical phrase, and then he loses the key and takes up the song again in another key. The odd thing is that within each phrase, he's right in tune -- but he can't seem to keep going in the same key throughout the song.)

At any rate, we've exposed Sam and Gus to whatever classical music was playing on the Sirius music channel, plus my singing old show tunes, plus Rush Limbaugh's bumper music, and whatever else happened to be floating along in the ether. We also got them a little red toy piano last Christmas (with money my aunt sent me before she died, so I think of that as "her" piano). They've enjoyed banging on the piano, though they didn't show any particular talent with it. Both of the boys have been singing "Ba ba baby" for the last couple of months, though that's as far as they ever get with it.

Recently, though, I got them a DVD called "Trebellina," which is basically an intro to the concept of a musical scale. The cartoon characters systematically go through the treble clef notes, C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C, and the half-hour show also has video of a bunch of different musical instruments. I think it's meant for slightly older kids (hah! especially since the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends NO TV AT ALL for kids under two -- sigh! which we have been violating with abandon for months now since there are just times when MOMMY NEEDS A FREAKIN' BREAK and it's two against one so guess who's winning?). But Gus and Sam love this DVD. Loooooooooove it. They call it "Eee" (since they can manage to warble along when the characters sing the note "E") and point to the TV saying, "Ee? Ee?" whenever they think there's a good chance I might pop them in the pack and play and give them another dose of mind-rotting musical cartoon TV.

And today -- which, btw, is their twenty-month birthday! -- Gus did something that made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Gus had had his morning bottle (which they get after breakfast -- today, home-made french toast) and was lobbying to steal Sam's bottle, which I was trying to feed him. I said, "Gus, why don't you go play your piano?" so he obligingly wandered over and started banging on it, then singing random syllables. Suddenly he sang, "Ee, ee, ee," in an ascending scale (like Do-re-mi). He was right in tune. Obviously, he had picked that up from Trebellina (and my singing along with it). My jaw dropped. I mean,he was right in tune. I didn't want to make a big deal of it, so I just said, "Gus, that was very nice," and that was that for the moment. But later, when D and I were changing Sam's poopy diaper and singing the song above, Gus not only started singing random syllables too, he followed that up with "Ee" in an ascending scale again, this time going up five notes instead of three. Then he repeated it.

Oh. My. Goodness.

So we are not exactly talking a musical prodigy here (I'm sure Mozart had already written a cantata by the time he was a mere 20 months) but still, it was very exciting to hear Gus's first real musical notes!

And last night, we had another first: A kiss from Gus. I was trying to get him to calm down and go to sleep (he's been on a bit of a strike about going to bed at night lately, though he's fine with taking naps -- go figure) and he had just handed me their baby doll, trying to engage me with that. Being the softy I am, I picked up the doll and played with it a bit, rocking it and kissing it on the forehead. I handed it back and said, "Can you kiss the doll?" No problem, Mom, he kissed it on the forehead too. I pushed my luck and presented my cheek to him and said, "Can you kiss Mama too?" He promptly went for my glasses inst4ead, of course, so we had to play Gus the Professor and I admired him while he wore my (break-proof) glasses for a moment.

Then I tried again, with the glasses out of his reach. "Kiss Mama?"

Gus bent over and feathered the softest little kiss onto my cheek. I'm not sure his lips even touched me. It actually felt more like when my cats give me little no-touch breathy "kisses." But he obviously meant it as a kiss ... and oh, I thought my heart would burst into a million pieces from suddenly swelling up so big.

Those boys, those boys. Those boys.