Thing One has always been an individual. She saw no need to bother following baby books, nor did she see a need to stay on some arbitrary growth chart. Mom and doctors freaking out were really just a bonus. At around six months she sat up, but then didn’t do what to do. She couldn’t get back down again, so she just sat there, arms held out, like a little doll. At nine months, she crawled, but it was an army crawl, dragging herself across the floor. And this was only if she was really desperate for something, since usually stuff came to her if she waited long enough.
She was so tiny she stayed in her car seat, rear facing, until at a year I asked the doctor if I could turn her around. She was only 16 pounds, but so long that her feet were up by her ears. But she was content in her car seat. In fact, if you didn’t get her belted in securely enough, she would scream until you stopped the car, panicked, and looked back to see her staring at you like “You moron, look at this unlocked belt. I’m calling the cops.”
She didn’t walk at a year old. A couple of months later, she would walk just fine holding on to your finger, but if you let go, she’d drop onto her diapered butt. She finally decided to walk at 16 months. She didn’t get a single tooth until she was 15 months, and the doctor was ready to call the dentist. With expressions like hers, she didn’t really need to speak much, so she didn’t. One of her first popular phrases was “Daddy, toe!” I’m not sure what the thing was with her toe, but it was very important to her.
We liked having a quiet child. She played quietly by herself in the play pen and in her crib. In church, she sat perfectly on our laps. It was like we were awesome parents or something. Well, until I fetched her from Sunday School when she was three, and the teacher informed me that she should be speaking in complete sentences by now and we should have her tested. Huh. Go figure. She was our first child, and I’d thrown out Parents magazine long ago, so like we knew anything was up.
So I took her to be tested at the local elementary school, because it’s never to early to start giving your children idiotic tests. The lady who was supposedly some sort of expert at this stuff, started merrily trying to get Thing One to do what she asked. She handed her a pair of scissors. Thing One looked at them like “Wft is this?” She had good reason to, as I had never given her scissors. Mark one against Thing One. Seriously, though, who the hell gives their three-year-old scissors?
She tossed them aside, and went back to playing with the various educational toys strewn around. Not that she did anything with them she was supposed to, like say stack the blocks. She just examined them, found them lacking, and dropped them again. The lady tried to get her to color. She handed her crayons and asked her to color a picture. Thing One was now starting to get annoyed with this strange woman. She took the crayon and made one slash across the paper. Done! Mark two against Thing One. Thing One could not have cared less.
She tried to focus Thing One’s attention on her, but Thing One was done with all that. She laughed and said “It’s like she’s saying ‘Talk to the hand!'” No, lady, it wasn’t like she was saying that, she actually was conveying this with every bit of body language she possessed. To this day I really don’t know what it was that Thing One really couldn’t do and what things she just didn’t feel like doing. The lady said my daughter was on a one-year-old level, and was going to need to go to something called PPCD for kids with disabilites due to her verbal and motor delays. People at the school used to call them the “Pee Pee” kids, because they didn’t have to be toilet trained in order to go to school.
And this was when they had me. It is rather difficult to motivate someone to use the potty when you don’t really communicate with them well, and of course no one wanted to take a kid who was in diapers. Insult or no, they were willing to take my kid who wasn’t potty-trained yet? Hallelujah! Thing One absolutely loved school, and she was for the next few years the shining star of PPCD, as many of the children had much more severe disabilities. Also she happened to look like a little fairy, and when you’re tiny and cute, people like doing stuff for you. She immediately accepted the kids with various disabilities, and to this day I think that was one of the most important things she took out of these classes. She’d have learned to do the other stuff on her own eventually, but this class helped teach her empathy for others, which she still has today.
One of her best friends was a boy named Carlos with Cerebal Palsy. They were the princess and the ninja, since everyday Thing One wore a princess costume and Carlos a tie wrapped around his head. She also loved playing on her own, and her favorite thing to do was go hide in the cabinet. She apparently did this every day. At one point, they were concerned she might also have Autism, because she had many symptoms. For instance, bandaids freaked her out more than shots, the guy giving the smiley face stickers at Wal-Mart was the devil, and don’t even TRY to get her to play with finger paint or shaving foam. She literally tackled other kids to get away from it.
As it turned out, she wasn’t autistic, just weird. And I love that about her, because she is delightfully weird and different and perfect. And now, you’d never know she was ever behind, as she jumped up to 50th percentile on the growth chart and makes straight As. One thing that hasn’t changed is that she is still every bit the individual, and if you don’t interest her, well – expect to talk to the hand.