Tuesday, October 29, 2013

31 for 21: Elevensies

Once upon a time...Eleven years ago...There was a teeny tiny baby that showed up, unexpectedly, and rocked my world.  Unlike her giant older brother, she didn't even make 6 lbs at birth.  And so the coming home outfit did not fit.  As a matter of fact, I could knot the legs of every jammie I had gotten and she could kick freely like a sleep sack.
My mother-in-law, actually had to go to Target and buy a doll outfit, that could hold us over until we could get our hands on some preemie jammies.  She was still swimming in it, at just under 5 and 1/2 pounds. 
Here she is on the day she came home in it.  I put her in the cradle with the doll I bought for her almost as soon as I learned that she would be a girl.  And snapped one single picture. 
Now, eleven years later, I cannot begin to tell you how she has changed things...
At the risk of beating a birthday horse, may I revisit the Lego idea?  I hit on the bricks of possibilities at the beginning of the month, right?  Having a typical child, is like having a Lego set.  Something can always go wrong and you may get hung up and frustrated in the directions, a block here and there may get misplaced, but you have an idea of how it is supposed to turn out.  If you have a child that is a little a-typical, you have variants on a theme.  It is maybe one of the alternate plans.
When you get a kid that has completely full blown special needs, it's like you got a tupperware full of loose Legos, no directions, and you are trying to build what you see everyone else is building.  Some parents are successful, they build a replica that looks strikingly the same; some give up and just carry around the box of blocks; the really brave ones throw the idea to the wind, and build something completely different allowing the pieces they have determine the creation.
Elise is my full box of loose Legos.  I tried really hard for 8 years to build what everyone else was building.  Then, for 2.5 years, I tried to make one of the directions sanctioned alternatives.  For the last 6 months, I've pretty much dumped out the box in my living room and let the pieces offer up the suggestions.  It's been maybe the last month or so, since I realized that that is was I am doing.
Kids who successfully build their set perfectly are supremely proud of their accomplishment.  Kids who build variations are thrilled at the new and unique options they have executed.  Have you ever seen a child build something from their imagination??  Have you ever seen anything but pride and joy?

No.  You haven't.  And you never will.  Because it is always the best thing ever, because it is born of joy and love.
Elise was full of a broken future, a set missing important components...until I started looking at the box of pieces as the most open-ended opportunity ever...and so, I am starting to scrabble through the pieces to sort out her strengths and help her build her very best and awesomest Self.
I have no idea what will be built by her next birthday.  But I know that I will be insanely proud.  And I will drown you in pictures.

I leave you with a collage of Elise showing off her birth dolly, in the clothes she wore home.  As thrilled with her life as anyone has a right to be.
Happy Birthday, my girl!  You are still full of possibilities.  And I can't wait to see what you build with them!!!
Bonus!  Previous Birthday Thoughts:


  1. Thank you! I LOVE these pictures. Elise is absolutely beautiful, and her joy is contagious. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  2. I always love your Lego analogy. Happy birthday, Elise!!!!! I love seeing pictures of her :-)

  3. beautiful, all of it. I relate to a lot of that, and yet, I am sure there are many aspects I don't fully get, but your heard clearly comes through!