I haven’t written a blog post in two years but I just had to write about one of the biggest milestones I can think of for Bella. It rivals the first word and first step… it’s the first period. Menstruation, monthly friend… it’s goes by many other names but I feel comfortable saying period. I really don’t understand why it’s called a period although I can definitely think of a few reasons but won’t go into that right now. I want to keep this about Bella and her becoming a young woman.
Cute little video that got Maya up and dancing. She loves cookie monster, so this was a no brainer. I especially love the dance sequence in the middle of the song… Bella’s learning it now, and I’ll admit it, so am I.
How do I begin to explain to Bella why grandma doesn’t remember her name, or which of grandma’s sons is her dad, or why, grandma keeps offering her lunch even though she just sat down with grandma and ate lunch together? I barely understand it myself. I keep thinking, “all mom needs is a compelling reason to remember Bella and Maya”… as if being her grandchild isn’t enough. But I first had to realize that mom won’t just suddenly be her old self and that she has Alzheimer’s, in order for me to be able to explain to Bella what’s going on with grandma. That realization didn’t come easily… I spent the better part of a year ignoring the signs, obvious as they were… I attributed them to mom not eating enough, not having someone around to take care of, and having problems talking to my dad. Maybe I just didn’t understand it either. As we tried more things to help my mom, enrolling her into an elderly exercise class, seeing a geriatric doctor and then a neurologist, it became clear that nothing would get her back to her “old” self. And finally, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and started treatment for it. So now, how do I explain this to Bella? Should I even try to give her the full lowdown? My belief is that children can for the most part be given the full explanation, but of course simplified and as I found out while talking to Bella, they can teach us a lot about accepting and making the best of the situation.
When I first knew I was going to be a father, I remember thinking of all the fun I would have with my kid. I remember thinking about all the bedtime stories and goodnight kisses and the make believe play I could have with her. There were mostly happy families depicted in tv and movies. I believed that having a family would be just as fun and… well perfect. I wasn’t prepared for what truly being a parent was all about. And it couldn’t be more different.
My wife and I used sign language to communicate with Bella when she was about the same age as Maya is now, a little less than a year old. We read that baby’s know what they want but don’t have the language skills to actually say what they want. Like they know they are hungry, but can’t say, “hey mom, can you bust out one of those boobs, I’m hungry”, so instead they cry. We get the message and feed the little one.
As they grow older, they begin to understand more things about the world around them and therefore, will want more specific things. Like say we’re at the dinner table and Maya is being fed some yummy tofu, broccoli, squash combo that my wife painstakingly makes from organic everything. But Maya, is thirsty and needs some water. She knows she wants water, but all she can do is either cry… or like she’s doing now, point. Pointing is a sign, and if she can learn to point, surely she can learn other signs. And she has. Maya’s official first sign… not including pointing… is “more.” It’s amazing to see her communicate with us and so fun to see her face light up when we give her exactly what she was asking for.
We have started with the signs, “mom”, “dad”, “sister”, “more”, “eat”, “cereal”, “done” and “water”. Repetition is key. Whenever I walk into the room, my wife signs daddy, and points to me. Eventually they will understand what sign is associated with what object. And it doesn’t hurt to get some books on the subject. With Bella, the YWCA had some great classes that we attended. I really helped us get used to the idea of signing every time we say the word. Maya’s got one word down… only a matter off time before she’ll be signing to borrow the car.
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I’m not even sure I know how to begin explaining what perspective is and why it’s important to gain the “right” perspective on a subject. I equate having the proper perspective on something with seeing it from every angle possible before making a judgement and then acting upon it. Everyday there are things going on in our lives that drive us to action, but sometimes those actions don’t really fit the situation.
Take this San Francisco 49ers and NY Giants football game last weekend… winner heads to the Superbowl, loser goes home. Well, the score is tied, and the game is in overtime. 49ers defense stops the Giants’ offense and NY is forced to punt. At this point in the OT, first team to score wins the game. Niners are feeling great about their chances, they are about to get the ball back and in great field position. The football flies through the air and into the hands of 49ers kick returner, Kyle Williams. He catches the ball cleanly and heads up the field. A Giants defender grabs a hold of Kyle and pokes the ball out from behind. The Giants recover the football and kick a field goal, Niners lose.