Since I shared my freak-out about Julianna getting older, I thought I should also share the stories about how much fun she can be. She’s getting much more interactive and mentally sharp, able to chime in on conversations and sometimes even crack (unsophisticated, but adorable) jokes. And she certainly recognizes humor now.
Christian is a tease. He comes by it honestly—he gets it from his father. In my uber-serious German family, such things would not have gone over well, and I have often hastened to reassure our kids that he’s “just being silly.” But the older they get, the more they recognize it for themselves.
Some exchanges happen over and over and cause no end of delight to both parties. For instance:
Christian: “Hey, Chicken Legs.”
Julianna: “Stah sayin’ tsicken legs!”
Christian: “Okay, Freckles.”
Julianna: “Stah sayin’ freckles!”
Christian laughs, and then Julianna giggles. She has this lovely, silvery giggle, and her shoulders shake. It’s like God took happiness and bottled it up, and she pours it out, sparkling, on the world around her.
Christian also likes to poke her, like a tickle, because she always gets this highly affronted tone of voice and says, “Hey, stop pokin’-a me!” (The “-a” makes the whole thing.)
We spent most of this week at the Lake of the Ozarks—posts soon to come on Pit Stops for Kids—and our last stop before heading back home was Wonderland Camp, which is a weeklong camp for kids and adults alike with special needs. I tend to be more trusting than my husband. I figure I’ve heard nothing but good things about this place, and you can’t possibly have that kind of reputation without earning it, so I was comfortable going in sight unseen. But I figured Julianna would be more comfortable leaving her family for a week next summer if she had seen the place. Christian, not so much. He wanted proof that it was not a dive hole.
So we drove the twisty, hilly roads to the camp. And when Julianna saw the big wooden sign, she screamed,
We stopped in the office to meet the administrative staff, who sent us out with a middle school sped teacher spending her summer as a residence hall coordinator. In the first stop (the art room), Julianna tried to tell her entire life’s history to the art director. And then she said, “Where is the pool?” At the second (a sleeping “cabin”—air conditioned), she went around labeling everything: beds, sheets, bathroom. Then she said, “Where is the pool?” At the third stop, they were doing music. Julianna started dancing, to the delight of every single person in that room, typically-developing and otherwise. And we only got her to leave by promising that the next stop was the pool.
She all but jumped in the pool in her clothes.
By the time we got to the playground, Julianna was all, “You people may go now, I’m fine.” She was seriously hacked off to be forced back into the van to go home.
There are times when I feel frustrated, irritated, or overwhelmed by the issues that surround special needs parenting. But then there are times like these, when I am exquisitely aware of how blessed I am to have been sent down this path.
Speaking of blessings and goofiness and, well, all right, it’s not really connected at all. But watch this video anyway.