Hasn’t time flown?
Until now, I hadn’t realised that when Isobel reached her third birthday last weekend, it also marked the second year of the blog. Of course I’d started it much earlier – September 2008, to be specific – but without an incentive, I didn’t have a clue how to maintain it.
Isobel’s diagnosis, naturally, gave me that incentive, although I took two weeks to publish the post. That I should choose to release it on her first birthday is a reflection of how much it still preoccupied my mind at the time.
Back then I had no idea how Isobel’s future looked. We didn’t even know what type of CP she had. Indeed only time could eventually – and very gently – remind me that she was also diagnosed with GDD; so consumed was I by her diagnosis of CP that I neglected to take in the rest of the information as well.
Anyway, last weekend was a fabulous party, for many reasons. Isobel had it at home with me, Miles, her baby brother, and a family of five that including three-year-old girl twins, one of whom already had a clearly defined Deaf identity. (And what fun she was!)
Somehow someone had favoured us, because despite the threatening clouds it never rained, though the wind did occasionally play high jinks with the girls’ hair – much to Issy’s delight (she laughs and skips ever so much whenever a gust whooshes into her face).
Somehow Chiltern Railways and the London Underground had conspired together to ensure that a number of people were never able to make the party, but those who did, certainly enjoyed themselves. For me it also created a benchmark in Isobel’s ability to express herself, indicating that her emotional intelligence was progressing far more consistently than I realised.
Parents who have brought up children with CP for several years will know exactly what I mean. Sometimes – as one parent so succinctly put it to me the other week – the presence of CP in your child so clouds the picture that for a time in the early years you aren’t sure what developmental stage they are at, or whether other, undiagnosed, disabilities might also be affecting their learning.
So for me to see Isobel expressing more complex emotions than she did 12 months ago was encouragement indeed. This time last year, she showed sheer happiness at the realisation that everyone was singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to her, but that was pretty much it.
This year was certainly in keeping with her current behavioural phase, which I’ve covered in a previous post. Upon hearing the chorus of ‘Hap – py Birthday – to – you,’ initially she made as if to hyperventilate – hands and eyes searching panickedly – then relaxed as the fairy cakes materialised before her with their candles, stripy bees and ladybirds. (Incidentally, the latter two kept me up until 2.30am that day. I am never icing a bee-wing ever again).
Fear, delight, excitement, surprise, recognition – Issy ran the whole gamut of birthday emotions that day. The most interesting part of her party was when she opened her presents with our help. We had to tear at the wrapping paper a little before she got curious, reaching out to rip some herself.
Slowly, and strategically, we swivelled the package round so to reveal the present within – and the glimmer of surprise, then recognition, in her face told us that she knew what it was: Rainbow Sound Blocks from Wonderworld. (We’d borrowed some previously from the local Children’s Centre, which Isobel loved.)
From then on she showed excitement at what the other wrapped packages could bring, giving them all a steady gaze, and reaching again every time we picked one up.
Reader, she loved it all. As far as she was concerned, it was the best day she’d ever had.