Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Flowers and Milestones

Two of my daughters are very different to each other.  Well, each of them are different - but these two exemplify extremes in personality.  The classic extrovert and the classic introvert.

If my little extrovert found a flower, everybody within earshot would know.  "Oh, FLOWER!"  Each person would be shown the flower and told about the flower and be gifted with a detailed story about the flower - possibly combined with interpretive dance.

If my little introvert found a flower, most would hardly even notice.  If I saw her sitting on the floor with cupped hands I might sit with her.  And she might gift me with a glowing smile and open her hands ever so slightly and together, silently, we would soak in the flowerness of the flower.  We would savour that moment together.  Perhaps we would talk a little about flowers - but perhaps we wouldn't.  We'd just share the flower together.

Both experiences of the flower, and my daughters, are complete and beautiful and amazing.

Neither of these experiences, in any way, had anything to do with "milestones".

It was about them.  As people.

People ask me about Kaylee's milestones often, and I get that I really do.  It's kind of like asking what grade your kid's in or how she's doing at school.  It's a common ground kind of question.

Also, people want so badly for her to "do well".  To succeed.  To be one of those inspirational people who Defy Great Odds and perhaps have their own motivational speaking circuit - or at the very least, be almost "normal".  Able to avoid some of the Very Hard Things faced by those with disability in this world.  Able to Triumph over Great Adversity - or avoid it altogether.

I know all the milestone stuff and when I am rocking the therapy circuit and liaising with the medical minions I can lay it all down using all the latest jargon.  But I can't help thinking, if all you look at on a journey is the milestones, it is really all about the destination and not at all about the journey.  What is the destination?   Well, I can tell you with absolute certainty that there is not a person on the earth that can, with complete certainty, predict if I will outlive Kaylee.  I can also tell you with absolute certainty that I have no idea which of those given alternatives terrify me more.  

In the days pre-K (before Kaylee) I was all about the destination baby.  We are talking five, ten, twenty - even fifty year plans.  Heck, I had my own eulogy written out.  Since then, I've grown to realise just how unpredictable life is, how worrying about the future does nothing to change it and how easy it is to miss the small things that are NOW when you're making it all about the end game.

Since then, I have learned that looking at flowers at the roadside is just as important as looking at milestones.

Neither of the daughters I described are actually Kaylee.  Both are linguistically advanced for their age with every other milestone hit bang on time or early - way early in a few cases - and none of that matters when we are looking at flowers.  What matters, is who THEY are.

When Kaylee sees a flower and it catches her attention, she will pull up her eyelids using her hands and a motion that is just so utterly, adorably Kaylee.  She will look with mouth open in sheer amazement and take in every detail.  Then she will close her eyes and laugh.  She will look again, closer and perhaps gingerly touch it.  And if you sit quietly and watch, you will never see that flower the same.  

If you find out what milestones Kaylee has reached, what motor skills she has mastered and what medical issue we are currently grappling with - you will learn about Kaylee.

If you find out what makes her laugh, what grabs her attention and what incites wriggles of joy - then you will get to know Kaylee.

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