We have been diligently teaching Taizi one sign. The sign for food. He looks at us (if he even does) like we have multiple heads and then reaches for his food. We decided to really really go for it. Show him his food. Do the sign. Show him his food. Do the sign. Show him his food. Do the sign. Take his hand and put it in the motion of the sign (if you touch his hand he goes totally floppy). Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Pull his food out of reach. Show his food, do the sign. Hold his hand, make the motion. Repeat.
And then all of a sudden in a very imperfect manner, both hands went to his mouth for the sign for food! It was a pretty big moment.
He is a very slow learner, there's no question. He does however have huge motivation to do many things for food or drink. Beyond that, we will hit a large brick wall. He seems to care for nothing else besides food and drink.
So in the past week we have gotten the sign for milk and food. The milk sign is extremely weak though the easiest for him to do. As his therapists have said in Seattle "he is extremely, extremely unmotivated!". Oh yes, very true. If you could read his mind, he's saying "I highly doubt you will refuse to feed me…so really…not interested in doing your weird little hand motion" (and he's right! We won't refuse to feed him). However we have found a way to motivate. We take his FAVORITE foods and to get it, he has to do the sign. Otherwise he gets other food. Food he eats, but not his favorite. Same with the drink. If he does the sign for milk he gets his cup of milk. If not, he gets juice or water in a cup. (NOT his favorite). And..it's working.
Therapy. We now travel 2.5 hours for speech therapy for Azlan. Oh…my goodness. There's worth it…then there's worth it! This is amazing. The first day the therapist teared up and his insane progress in just 30 minutes. We went back 3 days later for his next session (yes..we go twice a week) and this time he came so prepared for his K sound. Near the end of the session he looks to his therapist and says "what about the "s" sound?" she said "yes we only practiced that a few times b/c we had extra time last time but we aren't ready to work on that yet". He says "well I've been practicing every night in my bed to show you how I can do it!" and do it…he did!! You would have to know how severe his cleft was and how in 7 years he's never gotten an S sound out his mouth. It goes out his nose, as in, a puff of air out his nose in attempt to make the sound we make. I have never seen him so motivated. He loves her. She's intense and doesn't mess around and he loves surprising her with what he can do! He begs to practice more each night. The gift of an amazing therapist and a beautiful vehicle to drive 2.5 hours 2x a week with no complaints. I said the moment he was born "meet your mommy…the one that will fight for you til my last breath".
Recently in conversation with an amazing friend we were talking about beauty. After much thought…this was my conclusion. People can be very pretty…yet not beautiful. Beautiful always goes deeper. Some of the most beautiful people I have ever known are not considered 'pretty'. But once you know them…they are so amazingly beautiful.
This past week I took my 8 year old son on a mommy date. Before we arrived to our first stop, he looked at me 5 different times in the car and in the most sincere tone, said "mommy, thank you so much for inviting me on a date, I'm so so excited!" When we arrived at the restaurant, we ordered and sat down. It was quite packed and then in walked this very, very attractive family. The dad was built, very well dressed. The mom was stunning. Hip, and really really stunning. 3 teenage kids. As they sat down, we noticed that within 60 seconds all 5 of them pulled out their iPhones and started typing like crazy. There was zero conversation at that table. Then all of a sudden the mom freaked out. She realized her food had not gotten ordered by her husband. I mean…she freaked out. She was loud, rude and extremely upset. The husband stomped away loudly still muttering as he went. I mean, eyes are on this family and they clearly could care less. It continued in many forms from arguing about it to her turning her back to him and eating basically with her back to him. And what you didn't see…was beauty. Suddenly this attractive family was looking anything but beautiful. It was extremely sad to witness. The rest of the meal, they sat all on their iPhones and no more words were spoken. Pretty? Yes. Beautiful…? perhaps…but not this day.
So often seen in our perfect little babies. Born healthy and whole. With nothing but pure innocent beauty. Gorgeous little children. Beautiful adults.
But what if…the real beauty is in the ones we overlook…? The ones with such glaring imperfections that it would take more than a second look to see their beauty…? Through those early years with Azlan, I often said I had seen that perfection was most visible in what others saw as his glaring 'imperfections'. Don't change his lip, my heart begged. I love that face. That's his face. That's the only face I knew for Azlan Honor. Yes…I knew it had to be changed for him. But in the days that followed his lip repair, I would sit and look at pictures of his cleft and cry. And cry. I was mourning the face I knew and loved.
Watch this video. It's not what you expect. But it is oh so beautiful. Oh…how I love this. This is beauty.