Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Home with the Family

I've been taking some paternity time from work the last couple weeks with the arrival of my new son. It's been a real eye opener for me. I've been pitching in by taking care of my disabled daughter in order to allow my wife to focus on our newborn son and getting some rest when possible.

They say that a child with disabilities is a little slower in progressing. Now that we have a more typical child we're supposed to be shocked by the fast pace at which he develops. I'm not sure I'm ready for a faster pace though. In just the first hour she was up, my daughter uprooted one of the potted plants in our entry way spilling dirt all over the floor. Then she chewed the antenna off her singing monster toy and managed to spill her milk all over her pants at breakfast. So I had to change her again afterward before she went off to school. Quite the morning. I really don't think we need a faster pace around this house! :-)

There have been many positive aspects to me being home a lot though. First of all I've been able to understand my daughter's signs better. She adapts ASL very heavily in order to communicate because of lacking fine motor skills. In the past she would come up to me, sign something and when I didn't catch on, go find Mom in frustration. But after hanging around a couple weeks, I'm really figuring out what she's got to say. And I'm impressed. What seemed like aimless playing with her hands is actually a budding sign vocabulary.

My daughter has also allowed me to do some things that she doesn't even let my wife do without a fight. She's always been very touchy about brushing her teeth, but lately she'll let me do it and one night she even laughed during the process. Usually tooth brushing is a tearful time, so that was a pleasant change. Also at breakfast, I've made a breakthrough in feeding this picky eater. Seems she'll take a bite of most anything so long as I promise to sing "How Much is that Doggy in the Window" or "Where Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone". It makes for a pretty musical meal, but she's getting quite a few calories into her this way.

One thing I can say without a doubt. It's sure a lot easier to pack up and head to work each day than meet the daily needs of my daughter. But it's nowhere near as rewarding.

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