Thursday, October 29, 2009


Every once in awhile, I look at pictures and videos of Martin from 12 months earlier. When you live with kids, it's so easy to overlook the gradual changes they undergo. While I like to be reminded of what Martin used to look like and funny things he used to do, the photos and videos also become signposts of his development.

I looked at some videos from last October and November. In the videos, he never responds to the questions we pose. He doesn't have a lot of his own words. The clips are full of scripts, memorized lines from books, movies, or games. The videos are a remarkable record of Martin's capacity for memory. At the same, I wonder how we ever got through a regular day with a kid who communicated to us only in lines from other realities. How did we eat dinner together? How did we get him to take a bath? Did he know that we love him?

Communicating with Martin still has its frustrations. He's much more willful and likely to say "no" now that he understands the things we ask him to do. He's able to tell us what he wants, as displayed in statements like, "First, ice cream, then cucumbers" or "You can give me a cookie if you like." But I'll take this over what we struggled with last year. Until about December of last year, we could never count on Martin understanding what we said. And we certainly never knew what was going on his mind.

Sometimes, we joke that Martin is not a native speaker of English. While there are problems with that statement, there is truth to it as well. How weird to be in a situation where it feels like you and your child don't speak the same language. At least it's getting better.

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