Thursday, March 03, 2011

Developmental delays

A while back we stopped reading about baby milestones because it was just easier for our own peace of mind to be blissfully unaware of how far the Boobla was lagging behind his peers. Recently, I became a bit concerned because after a steady round of early-onset cooing, he's sort of clammed up for the past month or so. Whatever vocalizations he does make can usually be more correctly characterized as either complaining or whinging, more often than not at high decibels with a fist jammed in his mouth, whereas before, he was very happy to try vowel consonant combinations at all hours of the day.

I went on a Google safari and came back armed with some sketchy, anecdotal evidence that other parents have experienced this too (although realistically, no matter how obscure the problem, the internet has infiltrated enough homes that you can usually rest assured that SOMEONE out in the world wide web shares your concern), and that they noticed it was usually when the baby was focusing on sorting something else out.

Here's the thing: as far as I can tell, the Boobla isn't really working on anything else at the moment. Not that I can see, anyway. He has mastered the art of vegging out, which he will happily do if placed facing anywhere in general proximity to the boob tube, sitting there, legs akimbo, eyes glazed, his mouth agape just enough to give him the idiotically contented look of the scripted-comedy satiated. It's appalling. I think he does it just to bother me, as a preemptive strike against my inevitable television-limiting ways. Even if you're holding him facing you, away from the screen, he will somehow swivel his head around, all Exorcist-like and commence vegging.

I relayed my concerns to the Dotytron yesterday, who took the Boobla upstairs while I was making dinner. When I came up, the Dotytron turned to me and said, "I don't know what you're talking about, he's TOTALLY working on other stuff right now." and I was like, "what is he working on?" and the Dotytron claims he's working on reaching up his arm to hold something you dangle in front of him. He then set out to prove this to me through a painstaking ritual that involved picking up a small, soft, shaky toy, tapping it against the Boobla's hand, raising it slightly, and generally enticing him. As the Boobla made small spastic, probably involuntary jerky arm movements, the Dotytron would place it close to his hand so that the Boobla could grasp it in his chubby mitt and more often than not, promptly drop it. It was maddeningly boring to watch. But! I had a realization. "So, basically, you have to treat him like you're doing physical/psychological therapy for someone who's been in a coma for 20 years?" I queried, to which the Dotytron responded with a resounding YES.

It is a testament to what a fantastically inept teacher I am that I totally forget that babies are tabula rasa. No motor skills, fine or gross. No mental skills. Nothing. You're starting from scratch and it's MY job to help him build up those grey matter connections by engaging in mind-numbingly tedious, repetitive play. Ah, so. It's totally changed my perception of him and his skill set and refocused my patience, which has been tested lately. Incremental steps. And if he still turns out to be a little bit of a dullard, well, he's my dullard, and I'll shank anyone who tries to give him a hard time about it.

In other words - I'm vowing to give the kid some space.

Tonight for dinner I'm making salmon & potato cakes with sriracha mayonnaise and a brussels sprout salad - steamed brussels sprouts tossed with dijon, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and toasted pine nuts. I'll post a photo tomorrow.


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