Ever since Oliver was born I've called him my Sunshine Boy because that's what he is: bright and golden. And since he was a baby I've often sung to him the song You Are My Sunshine. Sometimes when he was an infant, one who took hours and hours to fall asleep, I'd amuse myself by singing it using a thousand different voices or I'd make up crazy verses to follow the first. So tonight, on the eve of my 37th birthday, I got the best present I've ever been given when Oliver sang the song right along with me.
Since we started his verbal behavior program I have made more of a habit of modeling language and of stopping mid-sentence, trying to encourage Oliver to fill in the blanks. And the thing is, I'm astounded by how much Oliver knows. I've never worried about Oliver's intellect, really, but I could never be quite sure how much he was absorbing. Oliver used to be able to name all of the shapes and the colors and his body parts. And then, gradually he stopped. So it was hard for me to know what he still knew and what, if anything, he was learning. I mean, I know for sure that he doesn't pick up things from the environment the way other kids do. And he seems to struggle with tasks that require him to do things -- like identify shapes for instance -- that he could once do easily.
So tonight, after he nearly flooded the bathroom durning bath time by spitting gallons of water over the edge and me not really caring because I had a beer in one hand and was tryng to pull all of the wallpaper off the walls before Nik came up the stairs and caught me, we both climbed into his bear bed for our nighttime routine. First, I opened our well-worn copy of The Three Bears. Reading to Oliver has become a challenge because he always wants to turn the pages quickly until he gets to that certain page that captures his imagination. But I insist on going through the motions of the book anyway. Tonight I did all of this the same but wouldn't you know it, Oliver started saying the words right along with me.
"Once upon a time"
"Goldilocks peeked in the window."
"She went inside."
"She ate it all up."
"It broke all to bits."
"It was too hard."
"The bears were hungry."
I started slowing down a bit as I realized what was going on and Oliver was less persistent in his efforts to get me to turn the page. And then, we were done and he had told the story right along with me. I closed the book and told him how proud I was of his talking and that he was my wonderful sunshine boy. Then I started singing to him and he just joined right in. We sang together for the very first time and my heart was bursting with pride.
When I think that Oliver wasn't talking 8 weeks ago I am simply awestruck.
Pluto might not be a planet anymore but the sun is shining even brighter and anything -- and everything -- seems possible tonight.