I'm not sure if it began before or after we told Maggie that Tessie had autism, but I can tell you that when we told her that Tessie is also on the spectrum, and that someday soon(ish) Tessie would be going to the therapy center with her, Maggie's face lit up and she beamed at me, with the hugest smile. She was pretty excited about the idea of Tessie being at "Mermaid School" alongside her someday.
After that I began to notice that Maggie, who's always loved the babies, was now especially interested in Tessie and had begun to walk around the house singing to herself "Baby Tessie, Baby Tessie, Baby Tessie."
On Wednesday Maggie was home sick from school, and really got to see Tessie in action and it was somewhat hilarious to watch her reactions to Tessie's antics.
If you've been reading this blog long, you may remember when Maggie was Tessie's age, and basically developed into a mini force of nature, climbing every surface she encountered and testing every limitation and just about driving me insane trying to keep her safely in one piece and unharmed.
|Maggie, when she was a little younger than Tess. And much blonder than she is now.
Both Tessie and Maggie have extremely good gross and rather good fine motor skills when they're toddlers.
My first clue that Tessie had reached the Adventure Stage was when James began walking around the house muttering "that baby is a trouble maker."
He meant, that she had begun to scale every surface and was always reaching up and up and up for another hand hold, which I had also taken notice of.
|Maggie at the beginning of her action/adventure stage. Which is ongoing.
Which is almost silly because I know that there are many ways for life to be difficult but I think it because this was the time before we had answers with Maggie and so this was the time that stands out in my mind as so baffling and confusing and intense.
But I didn't realize that that lack of answers, is exactly what the biggest part of the problem was, when Maggie was this age. We hadn't known. With Tessie, we do.
And that makes all the difference in the world.
This time around it has been easier because we've been here before. I've already been Maggie's mom and while Tessie isn't Maggie, two year old Maggie (and years of training and reading and learnin and sitting in therapy sessions) gave me some serious parenting skills that I did not have when I was still in my twenties and had no idea what was happening and didn't understand why I felt like I was the parent of a small force of nature rather than an almost two year old girl.
I've heard so many people, over the years, talk about how much they hate labels, and wish they could go away. You won't hear that from me. Because sometimes getting that diagnosis can mean answers. And it can mean help. And it can mean knowing you aren't losing your mind.
It can mean knowing how to help your child flourish and blossom. And it can mean learning how to communicate with them, even if it doesn't look exactly like how everyone else communicates.
Now, back to Maggie and Tessie's adventures this week, and this is one of my favorite things, maybe in my whole life.
When Maggie was home sick, Tessie went on her way, tearing about the house. At first Maggie helped her. She opened the baby gate for her, and that's how we discovered that Tessie has totally mastered the stairs, which we'd been practicing for a couple months in therapy.
Well that's nice, I thought. She's finally gotten that she has to turn around to go down backwards. Let's take the stair gates down. I uninstalled the first one, since the second was too tight for me to loosen, and Tessie spent an hour and a half skittering up and down the stairs to the playroom, giggling.
When she was done with that she went back to trying to use the high chair as a ladder, and trying to gain access to any other high surface she could scale.
Maggie, I think, perhaps also saw that this wasn't the best idea.
Over the course of the rest of the day I would hear a bang, usually near where Maggie had been when I'd turned my back, and because it had been where she'd been standing I'd say "Maggie, what is..." and trail off as I turned around and see her standing, looking at Tessie, who had gotten into some new sort of trouble, with the same look that the rest of us have generally had as Maggie has concocted new ways to get into things she shouldn't have access to for the past seven years of her life.
And she would give me a look like she could not believe what Tessie was doing and I'd say "I know. What can you do? She's a baby." but all in all, with the exception of opening the baby gate to let Tessie come downstairs with her to play, Maggie had a remarkably unmischievous day.
I think because she was watching Tessie in disbelief that one small person could make so much trouble.
|Exhausted from trouble making.
This is what happened next.
She raced up the stairs, climbed up on the bed, tumbled across it, got to the book shelf, threw herself at it, slipped down between the bed and bookshelf as I reached for her and grabbed her by the back of her dress (I'd been watching to make sure she didn't get into too much trouble), pulled herself up, and grabbed a bottle of iron pills. Then she threw herself backwards onto a pillow, and while I waited ready to grab them (but testing my theory) she took less than sixty seconds to remove the child proof lid (theory proved, I had it out of her hand immediately).
She didn't cry. She was pretty sure she shouldn't have had it and was probably surprised I hadn't grabbed it earlier.
Thanks to Mags, the only rooms not super child proofed in our house now are the master bedroom, the kitchen, and the laundry room, so now that the stair gates are down she has pretty free access to the house and I just have to make sure the climbing built in surfaces doesn't get too out of control.
If she continues to follow in Maggie's footsteps... it most definitely will. But we're ready for it.
And Maggie is here as an awesome big sister to help us along the way, having already given us some pretty good tips for raising a baby mermaid.
I'm going to throw this in at the end because I love Sadie's expression where she talks about how she loves babies and is pretty good with them, then turns around and sees Tessie climbing on the bed behind her getting into stuff. We watched it last night and couldn't stop laughing because of her face as she turns back around.