On January 13, 2011, at 11:15 AM, Liam took his first independent steps. I was at work and Abe was in Billings for his Master's program, so the witnesses were my sister, Collette, and his physical therapist, Lindsey, neither of whom knew he was walking by himself for the first time. Lindsey called me afterward and remarked, "Liam has made a ton of progress! I had no idea he was taking steps on his own!" "Neither did I!" I replied. I was sad to have missed this monumental occasion, but a few days later, at Grandma Hanson's house, he took a few steps for me too. It was beautiful to behold. Even Soren was excited.
Two weeks later he's continuing to perfect the art of walking. He'll hold little practice sessions with himself, pulling himself up to the arm of the loveseat and then walking as far as he can into the family room. He's learning how to stop and stabilize when he starts to lose his balance. He's getting good at moving into a standing position without holding onto anything. He'll be walking like a champ by his second birthday, for sure.
Linguistically, he continues to babble very expressively but doesn't form a lot of recognizable words. He says, as you all know, "Thank you" and "There you go." He also says "There you are!" "Hey!" "Hi!" and "Bye." Grandpa tells me he once heard him say "I did it." Just this evening I realized that his saying "Aaahhheeee" might mean "Mommy." But it's hard to say for sure.
To me his delayed motor and language development point to a probable fluid build-up behind his ears, which would cause both balance and hearing problems, but the wheels of modern medicine turn very slowly and it seems his doctors will never decide. I feel so frustrated and powerless when it comes to Liam's issues. I know something's not quite right, and I feel fairly confident there's a solution, but the answers are not forthcoming and don't know where to look to find them for myself. Which book, which specialist, which website will tell me what I need to know to help my son? We've got another appointment with another ENT, but I worry the outcome of the appointment will be the same: "Hmm. Looks like he's got fluid behind his ears. Spray this nasal steroid up his little nostrils every night and check back with us in six weeks." Or maybe they'll suggest surgery: putting tubes in his ears, removing his adenoids, or both. But will surgery really help? Will it truly be beneficial? Will the benefits outweigh the risks? Would waiting a little longer allow him to grow out of his problems without surgery? Or should we do something now, before he passes a critical point in his language development only half-hearing?
But anyway, Liam's hit this really awkward stage where he still seems totally like a baby but has simultaneously copped a rotten two-year-old toddler 'tude. He throws tantrums, hurls food off his high chair tray, squawks when he doesn't get things he wants fast enough, whacks people just for fun. He recently threw all his bath toys into the toilet. (Soren stomped into the bathroom, said, "NO, LIAM! I'M MAD AT YOU!", fished the toys out of the potty, and washed them off in the sink himself.) I'm so used to thinking of him as an infant whose crying needs to be instantly responded to that I'm having to consciously train myself to not pick him up every time he wants me to (It's starting to cause me a little back pain! Did I mention he weighed in at 33 pounds last month?) and letting him cry when he's mad about not getting his own way. He contines to be my shnuggly wuggly buggly little boy, though, and spends plenty of time riding around on my hip while I cook, dancing with me cheek-to-cheek in the kitchen, and cuddling and rocking with me in the Lazy Boy recliner.
Liam's current favorite hobby is getting into the powdered milk tub in our pantry and very quietly spreading it around, using the powder to create rough mosaics on the kitchen floor until Mommy catches him and cruelly wipes it all away. Collette has referred to his ransacking style as being "gentle," and she's right. He's Liam, and so is inherently sweet, which means even his troublemaking seems a little softer, quieter, even gentler than others'.
It's hard to find Liam in this picture but he's there, sound asleep. I had heard that kids did this sort of thing--falling asleep while playing-- but after Soren I didn't think one of mine ever would. (Look how cute his little bum is!)
Isn't he a tender little lovey?