Thursday, January 31, 2008

Connection made

Glassy-eyed Jackson with potatoes on his mouth

I don't know about you, but a scene from a movie in my education as a kid (I'm guessing they showed it in elementary school?) has really stuck with me. It's the Helen Keller movie, where her tutor (was it "Anne?"), after about an hour and a half (movie time) of failed attempts, FINALLY triumphs in getting Helen to connect W-A-T-E-R, signed out, with that fluid gushing from the outdoor water pump. The movie brilliantly builds to that climactic moment... and I remember feeling such happiness for Helen and such pride for her teacher. Like, YEAH, she's come out of the darkness into the light. A transformation was made. A beautiful one.

Scale that down a bagillion knotches and that's how I felt yesterday. My son, darling and smiley though he is, was really struggling with the hand-to-mouth concept. Now, I PROMISED myself I wouldn't be that anal, competitive mom - but you have to wonder if your kid is behind the 8 ball when you've been practicing with him for two weeks on a) picking up those small cherio-like "puffs" (by Gerber) with any degree of acuracy (it's quite an adjustment to go from huge cups and rings and books to something requiring more concentrated precision) and b) once actually getting it in his hand, realizing that HE has the power to transport that little morsal of yumminess to his own mouth - and mastery is still far away. After 3 minutes of shuffling the little puffy things like hockey pucks on his tray, he finally would clasp onto one (based ENTIRELY on luck), forget that he even had it in the palm of his hand, and move on to the next casualty. That was week 1. Week 2 involved a major graduation: he would realize that it was IN his hand (PROGRESS). But - recognizing the treat and knowing its flavor from ME feeding him them - his response was to just sit there, one hand in the air holding the puff and his mouth wide open, staring at it like, "Come to Daddy, little puff. I'm ready.... well come on, get in my mouth, why don't ya. Stupid puff. I don't have patience for you. I'm gonna get me a new and improved puff." And the process would start all over again. I even modeled, by hand- feeding myself with puffs, but he'd just smile his charming smile, as if to say, "Yep, I sure do love you Mommy. Adults must have special puffs that know how to get into Mommy's mouth. Did I mention that I love you, Mommy?"

So I finally resolved my frustration by thinking that it just takes time. After all, being a baby is something I haven't done for 28 years. You gotta give them time to understand the universe.

That's about the time when Sophia visited Tuesday. I talked with her mom about the puffs and Sophia hadn't tried them yet. So, on a whim, I decided to throw a couple on her tray while Jackson and I were committing to our daily intructional puff session. In perfect form, she used an exceptional pincher technique to gain control of one, then proceeded to bring it straight to her mouth, pop it right in there, and munch on it like puff-eating was an activity she could do in her sleep. I about fell over.

But yesterday, YESTERDAY, was my "Anne" (is that it? I should google to find out) moment. No, Jackson didn't start signing, "T-H-E R-E-A-S-O-N I D-O-N-T F-E-E-D M-Y-S-E-L-F T-H-E-S-E S-T-U-P-I-D T-H-I-N-G-S I-S B-E-C-A-U-S-E T-H-E-Y-R-E G-R-O-S-S, N-O-T B-E-C-A-U-S-E I-M S-L-O-W, M-O-M!" In reality, the puffs are still a struggle, but we made one major connection about hand to mouth. Jackson loves this mesh thingy that can be filled with bananas or anything mushy. He sucks away all those yummy juices. And yesterday was when he decided HE was in charge of the thing. HE BROUGHT IT TO HIS MOUTH! Ahh, sweet Jesus, he GOT it! It just made me think about that gushing water and Helen's gleeful smile... a break-through, for sure. See for yourself.

Gotta go now, another puff lesson is next.

And now for a couple shots at Sears, where we had just finished getting our pics taken. That hat was the MAIN cause for the pics. I just LOVE this look! Gma Lynette bought it for him.


devaneygirlstill said...

Ahh, the hand to mouth phenomenon (sp?)I so enjoyed reading this post and I never would have fully understood it until Charlie crashed and smashed his way into my life. When Hannah and then soon following Kaiya were given the lovely puffs, they both just reached down and picked them up perfectly and ate them. We used to call Hannah lobster because while the big things like sitting up, crawling, walking all came later to her, she would sit and use her "pinchers" to look for lint on the carpet, little teeny things make her so happy. She was so into this that we actually dressed her a lobster for Halloween! Kaiya was the same, pincher perfect.
Then came Charlie, when his puff time came, we just marveled at how he could "lose" the puff in his own hand, many times for an hour or so and by that time, it had dissolved. It took him forever to get the "if I put this in my mouth, I can eat it" moment. Worrying, I asked my doctor and she just giggled and said "Oh, he is just such a boy!" I asked for an explanation and she said that most often (not always of course) girls gain fine motor skills (pinchers) first and boys gain gross motor skills (sitting, rolling) first.
So, anyway long story long, I too sat there vigilantly by the high chair trying to help my sweetie "get it" and he really did not for quite some time. Big objects like a hunk of bagel, he would attack, but he is just now (16 months) really doing the pinchers that Hannah was all about at 8-9 months. Like Kaiya, like Sophia.
Its so nice to hear someone else thinking the same thoughts that I had, because like Jackson, Charlie is small for is age (2%) so I always would worry about his "age markers" hoping that he would be ahead on SOMETHING. But after a little while I started to love the fact that he was little and still had the baby time longer than Hannah because that meant more snuggling and that selfishly, he needed me more and for a longer time.
He now does the hand to mouth like a champ, and I do kind of miss when he would lose the puff and look at me like "where in the world did that go?".
Long story long, AGAIN, Jackson is rockin and rollin if he mastered it in two weeks and you should definately feel the "Anne" moment.
Luckily that loving smile, will never fade (just gain some toofers).
Thanks for the post, loved it.
And I am going officially submit my request for the longest comment in history award. :)

Tiffany McCallen said...

I hesitate to leave a comment after Em's amazing entry! Truly, that was quite the diatribe. Anyway, Tricia, I feel your pain. Noah just figured out the pincer grasp himself a few weeks ago. It was as if overnight the pincer fairy came and told him that the cheerio was meant to go IN his mouth using his OWN tiny finger. Magic! And now, we are a puff/cheerio/soon to be other fun family. I'll bet you'll be saying the same thing by the weekend. :)

Shauna said...

What an adorable story!! I could see your face when he did it. :) Congrats on your "A-HA" moment, as Oprah says, and of course on Jackson's feat.

Tiffany McCallen said...

P.S. Happy 8-month-birthday, Jackson! Hope you had fun on Saturday marking the occasion. :)

JenniferLWilliams78 said...

That is one of the funniest and sweetest pieces of writing I've read in a long time.

Your life is simply heart-warming.

Can't wait to see you!