Today is the second to last day before we have to take QQ in for her surgery, and I am increasingly devastated. I know that Maia was right in her comment on a previous post - she said that we are giving QQ the power of speech. And that is a tremendous gift. Of course it is! A gift of mythic proportions.
I, of all people, the language geek, should appreciate what a gift is the power of speech. I'm the quintessential English Major, and I have always loved language. I love everything about it. I am constantly amazed by how many words we humans can hold in our brains, the facility and casual dexterity with which we (well, OK, some of us!) can toss those words around, mold them and shape them and create eloquent images and vivid stories with them. How amazing is that? It's flabbergasting to me. It's one of the best things about being human, at least to my mind. Ever since the long nights I spent reading voraciously under the covers as a child, flashlight in hand, my wrist going sore from holding up my chin, I have loved words. I read everything I could get my hands on in those early years - not just books meant for children but all manner of books...books from faraway lands where people spoke in unusual ways, in long and flowery sentences, in short, mesmeric phrases. Books from centuries in the past when language was used much differently than it is today. To this day, my mind is constantly picking over words, dissecting them, conjugating them, seeking out their Latin roots, trying to imagine their origins, who first spoke them and why a particular word was chosen to denote a certain object, action or emotion.
So, yes, I of all people should be wild with excitement at giving the power of speech to our daughter, she who emotes so eloquently, but cannot pronounce the words she is trying to repeat. She whose face speaks volumes, who holds back nothing. She who now babbles in wavering, graceful, ululating streams of vowel sounds, trying to get her daddy to pay attention to her when he's posting news stories on the computer.
Imagine what she'll say when she can speak in words! Imagine how much she'll have to tell us!
I know, too, that she smiles with her eyes. Just look at those smiling eyes! So that even when her mouth is stiff and restrained, and she can't yet smile her old smile, she will still be able to smile with those eyes. I hope it won't be long before she's happy enough to do so.
It's just hard, because literally every day these days I can feel her relaxing and bonding with us at an exponential rate. You can feel it in her little body when she slides into your lap or throws an arm around your neck, in her hands when she clutches and manipulates your fingers. A couple of days ago, she kissed me for the first time. When we first brought her home, she would allow kisses, but seemed indifferent to them. She had a sort of royal way of turning her head just slightly to make her cheek available. In recent weeks, she started actually raising her cheek toward me with her little half-smile when she knows it's time for kisses, like at bedtime. But she didn't like much of anything near her mouth, and she would avoid having a kiss land anywhere in the vicinity of her lips. She wasn't angry or unpleasant about it, she's just duck her face a few millimeters at the last second.
Well, the other day, after I had kissed some of her stuffed animals for her at naptime, she clutched the rail of the crib, raised her face very carefully and placed her lips on mine. then she did it three more times. I was completely floored, needless to say!
Later that afternoon, when we were playing with her rocking dinosaur, she did it again. First she kissed the dinosaur on the nose, then she turned her head - very delicately and shyly again - and kissed me two or three more times on the lips. Of course, she can't even come close to pursing her own lips. So it's just a touch of her mouth to mine. She hasn't done it for daddy yet, which is driving him crazy, but she is so plainly besotted with him that I think it's probably OK if I get the kisses to myself for now. That way, I know I'm loved too.
She also comes to me now. If I hold out my hands and call her, she'll grin and then come racing to me on all fours. She just did it out of the blue one day, and has done it ever since.
Every day there are two or three new advances. She has learned (all on her own, no encouragement from me) to hand her juice bottle to me when she's done drinking, rather than drop or throw it like she used to. Yesterday at Whole Foods I let her carry a glass jar of babyfood, thinking that certainly the first time I wasn't paying attention I'd hear it shatter on the floor (yes, I was willing to take that chance) and instead, when I turned back from inspecting a shelf of vitamins, I saw her patiently and carefully holding it out to me, as if to say "This seems breakable - you should probably take it back."
If I point to something and tell her to get it, she will pick it up and hold it out to me. She loves to share, and will hand things back and forth with us endlessly, smiling every time the gift is accepted, and even more broadly when it is returned again. You can't put a price on that self-taught lesson!
Her speed crawling has reached alarming velocities. She's like that baby space creature from the Alien movies that thrashes around the room so fast you can't keep it in your line of vision. It scares the dog. He'll tuck tail (as much of a tail as he has, which isn't much) and run when she goes into high gear. I'll turn around and she's three rooms away. Here she is escaping the house for the first time.
I think she's angry because the cement is so hard on the patio.
But she got over it quickly.
Her laughter and her sense of humor is becoming more and more mature. And oh, how she loves to laugh. You can see the happiness radiating from her when both her parents are home. She'll reach for us alternately turning her head from side to side so as to keep both our faces in view. She is never happier than when she can hold both of our hands at once.
You can see her developing this vast ocean of comfort and gladness at the things that are hers, the things she is learning to believe will not be taken away. You can see it in the way her face opens up when we walk back in the door of our warm and welcoming home after a run or an adventure. You can see it in the way she grins at us when we hand her a toy she knows well. Her whole face says "thank you". She needs to thank us thoroughly with her eyes before even taking the time to play with the toy. The joy of being given it, of having us offer to play with her, is much greater than the joy of the object itself. And isn't that a lesson we could all learn from.
So yes, it is very, very hard for me to take away all this comfort and trust, to throw her into an environment of strangers who will cause her pain. I need to see the other side of this. I need to be reassured that she will emerge just as strong and happy and full of joie de vivre. I need to see that first smile, that first look of mischief on her face again. That is the light at the end of my tunnel right now.