I meant to do this post a long time ago. Like actually around Jaymes' birthday. Obviously, that did not happen. Meant to write it last week. Didn't happen. Meant to do it a few days ago... Again, didn't happen. My official excuse is a lack of time, and it's actually a good excuse given the insanity that has been my experience with Jaymes' teacher this year. I'll wait to post anything about this one until I have some idea of how things are going to end up, but let's just say the whole school situation has blown up into one hell of an unpleasant mess. Anyway, back to the point.
Jaymes turned seven back on December 30th. It was a day of mixed emotions, for sure. Lots of good, and some sad too. Also, a little bit of misbehavior. His birthday this year fell on a Thursday, meaning a regular old day. We decided not to have a party, and instead use the money that would have gone to a party for getting Jaymes a slightly-too-expensive handheld game system. We originally were going to go with the Leapster thing, but looking at it I wasn't sure Jaymes would be able to figure it out. We ended up going with the Fisher Price IXL, which was about three times more expensive, but really cool. Jaymes always enjoyed playing the demo IXL that Target has, so I knew he'd be able to figure it out. Until we got it and started setting it up, I had no idea how cool it is! Each game is actually a couple of games, a coloring program similar to MS Paint on the computer, and a story with options for reading alone, or being read to. The games aren't cartridges that are stuck into the player- rather, they are computer CDs that you install then attach the game system via USB cable and transfer the games over. This means that games can constantly be rotated through so Jaymes doesn't get sick of them.
Not only does the IXL play games... It's also an MP3 player and you can also upload photos. I uploaded a bunch of Jaymes' favorite Raffi songs onto it, along with some photos of him at Halloween. He has the Monkey game that the system came with, a Spongebob one, and a Handy Manny game as well. He loves to play his music (specifically an incredibly annoying song, "Down by the Bay") while doing the drawing. He loves the story modes, and will actually spend hours giggling and playing the various games. I hope the thing is built tough though, an attached stylus is used and he pounds the living heck out of the screen.
Obviously, Jaymes thought his gifts were pretty cool. He also got a portable DVD player and a couple movies for when we're at appointments that take forever. Have not gotten a chance to use that yet.
I used my Christmas gift, the cake pan that makes perfect 3D trains, to make his birthday cake. Not only was it lactose free, but it was awesome. I made a "rainbow cake," something I looove making because it's so eay and so pretty. Basically, you divide the batter into six or seven small bowls and make each bowl a different color using food coloring. Then you slop spoonfuls of each color in together, creating what cooks into an edible rainbow. I then iced it up, and decorated each train with gel colors and candy. It turned out REALLY cool, and it was a lot of fun. Jaymes about had heart failure when he saw it. I shoved candles into each car, and that really made it cool too.
At some point, I think Jaymes thought we were not going to sing to him. So he stood up on a chair, and sang Happy Birthday to himself. It was really cute. We sang it a second time, which he enjoyed just as much as the first. He blew out his candles, and probably splashed the entire thing with mouth bacteria. He enjoyed that a LOT. The candles, not the bacteria.
The realization that my baby is SEVEN is a little crazy to me. Seven is kid-age, he's a boy and not my little baby. When they say time flies, they're not kidding. I started thinking about that, and got kind of depressed. It's really hard for me to see Jaymes as a seven year old, because he's really functioning at a lower level than my four year old. It's hard to see him as a big kid, when he's only 38 pounds. It's hard to see him growing up, when he is still in diapers, and still wants to be carried. I guess the hard thing for me is that I thought we'd be so much further by now. All these docs and therapists have skirted my questions about where on the spectrum Jaymes is... Which in a way made me feel like maybe in a few years he would grow out of it. Obviously that is neither realistic, or the case here. I don't even know that I'd want it to be. I don't know. But watching the seven year old down the road as he rides his little dirt bike and plays sports and has real kid conversations and friendships... How different Jaymes is really becomes painfully obvious. So I spent a bit of the day bummed out.
Then I started thinking about Jaymes gains, and how far he really has come. At two years old, he did nothing but scream and cry all day every day. At three, he screamed and cried and destroyed things. At four, he started talking. Slowly, first with just "cheese" and "popsicle." I remember video taping his barely intelligible pronunciation of "cheese" and being beyond excited. At five, he was giving us single words. At six, phrases. And now at seven... Full sentences a lot of the time. No, they don't all make sense. Yes, some of them are just echolalic. Some are nasty "shut your mouth, mommy." But then he sings Happy Birthday to himself. He walks up to me and asks "can I have more chips?" He runs by yelling "Jellyfish starts with J!" He knows most of his prepositions. He knows how to count to thirty (with a little stumbling around the teens) and how to spell his name. He knows how to ride a bike, and how to dress himself. He knows how to take a shower, and how to change his own diaper. He knows how to close the gate. He can draw a jellyfish with rainbow legs and a smiley mouth. He can help me cook. He can sing.
If I had been asked a few years ago if I thought Jaymes would ever do any of these things, I'd have laughed. I have long been guilty of underestimating what my son can do. But I've started to realize that if I assume that he can't, won't, do something- I'm not doing either of us any favors.
No, Jaymes isn't like the little blonde boy down the road, but that's ok. He has accomplished so much and come so far to become who he is now. His future holds a lot of struggle, but it also holds a lot of promise. I'm not ready to sit down and mourn the boy he could have been- I'm ready to fight twice as hard to get him every support and advantage he possibly can, to help him amaze me in a few more years.