Each weekday the therapists come. They knock on the door. They tote their bags of plastic light-up toys. They play with Fiona. The occupational therapist tries to get Fiona to chew with her molars and suck from a straw, and the physical therapist tries to get Fiona to take steps with a walker, and the speech therapist, among other things, tries to get Fiona to stop throwing toys when she’s done with them. Ping—balls and blocks and puzzle pieces get chucked sheer across the room. The therapists work on these and many more tasks with such diligent un-success that I sometimes forget this road we’re following is supposed to be aiming toward progress. Progress — that gleaming Emerald City that sometimes seems just as far with every step forward. Goodbye, I tell them cheerfully, and then pluck Fiona off the ground and go on to other parts of the day.
It dawned on me this evening, though, that in just two days, every one of Fiona’s therapists celebrated something new about her. And these are not Ra-Ra women. These are realists, which I always appreciate, which makes their praises all the more meaningful. Fiona so persistently has not done the things they praised her for lately that her doing these things feels miraculous. And because I’ve posted my share of hard blog posts lately (here and here and here), I thought I’d better do a little singing about the good stuff:
She chewed with her molars!
She pursed her lips around a straw!
She handed a toy back to an adult!
She took steps with her walker without her PT prompting her legs!
And today when I brought her a bowl of steaming oatmeal, she said, “Hum.”
Why is this last one a feat, you ask? Because after about a week of telling her, “It’s hot. Hot-hot,” to explain why I couldn’t offer scalding oatmeal to her whining mouth just yet, she repeated her version of the word: “Hum.” (M is the only somewhat hard consonant she can do, so she’s approximating “Hot” as best she can.) Now, when I say oatmeal, she says, “Hum.”
We’re getting there, minor miracle by minor miracle. Where’s there, exactly? I don’t know, but it’s farther, gloriously farther, from here.