Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

The Most Beautiful Sound I Have Ever Heard

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

The Most Beautiful Sound I Have Ever Heard

Article excerpt

I remember that first Christmas with my son, Joseph. Born in July, 1995, he was 5 months old. Even though I had a 3-year-old daughter, and knew what Joey should be doing, I still read the first few chapters of the childcare book, What to Expect: The First Year, over and over again, until I had practically memorized them. I did not read the information in the middle of the chapters, just the "What Your Baby May Be Doing" part. I started with the most difficult goals first. He wasn't doing any of the things that "your baby may even be able to." So then I went on to what he "may possibly be able to." When that didn't work, I tried "will probably be able to." Still nothing. I gritted my teeth and dug in my heels. One more to go. "By the end of this month, your baby should be able to." Well, we were eight days past the end of this month, and he wasn't able to. I flipped backwards through the pages of the book. I tried other chapters: "The Fourth Month," "The Third Month," "The Second Month." At this point, I tossed the dog-eared book aside, refusing to go all the way back to "The First Month."

At 5 months, it was still possible that he was just delayed, but would catch up. Right? He was six weeks premature, after all. I somehow managed to avoid talking into consideration the insult he suffered to his brain. So I mentally wrote my own What to Expect: The First Year book. Another month or two and he would be starting to sit up. Another month or two after that, and he would be crawling. Or maybe I should lower my expectations: in another month, he would be batting at toys, or following me around the room with his eyes. Maybe he could simply just laugh out loud. Or, like the book described it, squeal in delight. More than anything else listed in that book, I wanted to hear Joseph laugh.

That first Christmas, Santa brought Joey a push toy. You know, the kind children use when they are first learning to walk. Now, almost six Christmases later, my 2-year-old son pushes it around. Sometimes he walks past Joey lying on the floor, or sitting in his wheelchair.

I remember thinking that first Christmas: okay, so I've tried talking to God about Joey. I fumed at Him that He had kept Joey's twin brother for Himself. Now, give me some help with Joey, God. Make him walk. Make him crawl. Make him sit up. Make him coo or babble. Hello? Are you there, God? …

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