Warning: excessive use of “super”, “wonderful”, and other trite adjectives.

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Jp has been a handful since forever. I remember, when he wasn’t even one yet, thinking, “Isn’t it supposed to be the terrible two’s?!”. Tantrums. Crying. Madness. No control over his emotions whatsoever even in the most simple of situations and social interactions. I took a ton of flak from our friends about ‘never taking Jp anywhere’ when he was younger. Other moms went to all of the social events and brought their little ones, why didn’t I?

They just couldn’t understand.

Jp would almost always have an emotional outburst when going, when leaving, in the middle when he couldn’t go out a certain door or have a knick-knack made of glass. It became something that I dreaded and eventually, just gave up completely. It wasn’t worth the insane amount of hassle. Truth be told, it even caused a tremendous amount of friction between my husband and I.

“Can you help me, please?”

“What do you want me to do?”

“I don’t know…not just sit there!”

And it’s not that Chris was just sitting there. I was stressed out and couldn’t take it out on Jp so who received the brunt of that? Who always does? My husband, of course. So, then it was something that was the opposite of a social occasion. It became a social nightmare…Chris and I bickering, Jp crying, and me muttering under my breath and acting supremely aggravated all while chasing around a toddler who was trying to do his own thing all while at someone’s house that I didn’t even want to go to in the first place. Not the picture of the lovely family that I had in my head when we started this adventure.

So what did we do? We just stopped going. Anywhere.

I took Jp with me to run errands and even that ended in tears most days. But now? It’s as though his little brain was just triggered with a jolt from ‘ol Doc Brown’s time machine. He has literally “grown up” in the last two weeks. Communication and understanding used to be a daily and agonizing struggle between us. Picture me, running around like a chicken with her head cut off, trying to pick up things to show him and crack the code of what he wanted. Since all he could say was, “want”, that was all that I knew. That he wanted something and only he knew what that was and didn’t have the vocabulary to tell me. Was it lovey? Was it cracker? Was it juice? I don’t know, kid, give something here!

Then, as though a magician waved a magic wand over the head of precious angel, he could speak. In sentences. Pretty good ones, too. The answer, by the way, was almost always cookies or juice but since he simply cannot have them every time that he asked (he would literally never sleep again), we still contended with the fits of rage that toddlers are overcome with when they cannot get their way. Screaming. Crying. Madness.

Then, as magically as the ability to express himself came, so did the understanding of the meaning of time-outs and bribery. Praise the lord.

Jp is not the same child that he was a month ago. He understands. He knows what is going on around him. He knows now what I am saying (most of the time) and we can have relatively uneventful trips to places. That is not to say that he is great 100% of the time; what toddler is? But he hears me and he understands so much more than he used to. He grasps now that there are consequences for misbehavior and he wants to avoid punishments. That’s huge. It’s as though a miracle happened when I was sleeping and someone replaced my moody, sullen child with this one.

Did I mention that I love this one? I loved my old child, of course, but this one? Oh, I cannot stop hugging him all day long.

I can look at him in the throes of a fit and ask him if he wants to go to time out. He always answers, “no”, in his tiny and adorable little voice. I then ask him, nicely, to please stop said behavior. Sometimes he does, though at times he does not. Understanding of language does not mean that he isn’t a child and children are renowned throughout the world for testing and pushing their boundaries. Though now when he receives a time out for “pushing” he takes it (without the screaming reminiscent of Regan from the Exorcist) and then, when it is over, he comes out and says, “I sowee”, and gives me a hug.

He wants to play with me now. Before, he spent most of his time alone or playing alone. Now he brings me toys to play with him. Gone are the days where he didn’t comprehend the functions new toys and would become easily frustrated with them and they would, in turn, end up -still with tags on- in the garage. He loves to learn new things now. It’s unbelievably exciting and new and profoundly wonderful for me as a Mom. I can sit down and work with him and he looks up with wonder and awe and not confusion and aggravation.

Have I mentioned that this new child is someone that I bounce out of bed to teach new things?

Days used to be about getting by, avoiding tantrums, and keeping the peace. They were exercises in how far one’s sanity could be pushed by love. My biggest accomplishments as a mom used to be how I held my temper and was patient in the most adversarial odds. Now they are full of laughter, activities, and games. My accomplishments now are new words and phrases and smiles of pride in himself. Trips out of the house are not something of dread and worry anymore, they are adventures in learning. Play dates don’t have me holding my breath for fear that he will act inappropriately or hurt other kids. He still prefers to play near them rather than with them but he is aware of them and even follows them around in his own independent way. We still have some work to do with his tendency to “tune out” to the point where he doesn’t respond but maybe that wonderful magician will come back with his trusty wand and wave it once again.

Maybe he won’t.

But that’s okay. He is improving every day and that is all you can ever ask for.

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Childhood Development Parenting Parenting and Childhood Development

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Amber Perea View All →

I'm just living minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day.

7 Comments Leave a comment

    • Well, he does go to therapy 3 times a week and we work pretty much all day. I also am one of those people that swears by Omega-3 fish oil. I saw so much improvement in his expressive after he started it. He just learns differently and once we finally tuned into the receptive disorder (I don’t know how long you have been following but we just clued into it a month or so ago so we never did any work on it before) we were able to gear more towards it and it takes repetition, repetition, repetition.

      The fact is that he is able to learn. It’s harder, but he still seems as though his actual ability to intake is good it’s just harder for him to retain than other kids. I think about it as learning a foreign language as an adult. It’s hard. I just keep using the same phrases until he absorbs it and once it does he seems to be able to hold onto it. Then I take what he knows and build new phrases to show the versatility of the word. Repetition, repetition, repetition.

      We still live in the land of big “gestures” and have to teach each word as an individual and then build from there but the more he is able to communicate the less frustrated he has become.

      The sentence part is the simple math of languages. When his expressive finally hit around 200 words with 25 being verbs (still all action right now) then kids are able to show some personal versatility with them and form simple sentences. He finally was at that level. 🙂

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