Walk With Me-Three
By Carol Englehaupt
Josh was a beautiful baby with clear and sparkling eyes. His hair was golden blonde and curly. When he was good, he was very, very good. When he was bad, he was horrid. He cried; a lot. He slept: very little. I was lucky if he slept two hours straight.
When I had to go shopping, he would cry from the minute I walked out the door until we got home. His sucking reflex remained poor, and because he cried so much the doctor switched him to a soy formula. Looking back and knowing what I know now I suspect he was hungry and not getting as much food as I thought he was. He did better once he could eat baby food.
When he laughed, everybody laughed with him. It was a joyful sound. His eyes were so beautiful and expressive. Between six months and eight months several very important things happened.
I was sitting in our kitchen holding Josh on my lap when I noticed him doing something over and over. He would look at me, look away, and look back at me. Then he would burst out laughing. I thought about what I was doing, and what he was doing, and something clicked.
I was playing peek-a-boo with him. When I said the words, he looked away, then back at me, and I suddenly realized that he had figured out a way to hide his eyes. He couldn’t cover them with his hands, his poor muscle tone prevented that, but he would look away when I said, where’s Josh? Then he’d swing his eyes back to me when I said peek-a-boo. There he is.
When I realized that he was playing with me, and he had been the one to figure out how, I knew, right then and there that nobody would ever convince me he wasn’t bright. I thought he was the smartest, most brilliant baby I’d ever been around.
The second event also involved a game. This one came later, after he’d taught me how to play peek-a-boo by his rules. This new game also involved his eyes. I started to notice him staring intently at something. I never knew exactly what, but if Hank, his father, or Richard, his older brother, or I would stare in the direction Josh was staring at, he would burst out laughing.
Again, I felt the light bulb click on. Josh had come up with a new game. One I called Monkey’s Always Look. The game was simply to get somebody to stare in the direction he chose. This game is probably the beginning of the non-verbal communication that Josh and I do so swiftly.
I didn’t realize that simple game of Monkey’s Always Look was teaching me a very important lesson. That Josh uses his eyes to talk. I’m still amazed that he came up with this at such a young age although I’ve read that American Sign Language can be taught to children before they can talk.
That simple game of Josh looking, and getting me to look, evolved into him being able to tell me things by looking at something. As you walk with me through this blog, more and more of these instances will be related. But I knew, as young as Josh was that he was a bright, intelligent, creative, and determined child.