A dancing bear named Vinko and a singing dinosaur named DJ have changed our son Brady's life. I guess they have changed our whole family's life. They have become Brady's playmates, entertainment and yes...his favorites.
Our little boy has a favorite. He does not have many favorites or even playmates. We, as his parents, do not have much time at home that does not revolve around keeping tabs on Brady each and every moment. Now we all have something to look forward to when we are at home. Now we all have a favorite.
Earlier in the year, Brady started watching a video he received as a Christmas gift from his Grandma and Bubba. It truly was the smallest of miracles when he first sat for 5 to 10 minutes watching this video. It was a Baby Genius video filled with dancing bears, singing dinosaurs, music, letters, numbers and children playing and laughing. Brady crawled up on the couch, cuddled up next to his sister and watched this video for a good ten minutes with her. It continued throughout the Christmas break, but then Brady went back to his knocking over toys, walking around the house with little purpose or direction and being so easily distracted and frustrated. Our hope for a little miracle seemed dashed.
But then something changed as the year went on. Brady started coming into the kitchen or bedroom or any room in the house, my husband or I were in. He would take our hands to lead us into the family room. He would stare at the television and, sometimes, he would even hand us the remote. He wanted to watch his special video. He had something that kept his attention. He had a favorite. He had made a choice. He communicated all of this to us. We would turn on his video and the smiling bear and the dancing dinosaur would appear singing songs and playing that sweet music. As the familiar sounds came across the tv, my little boy's face lit up, he started to giggle and his eyes got wide. They had his attention.
We stepped back, slowly and quietly, and watched as Brady swayed his body and smiled as one song after another came across the screen. Ten minutes passed, then 20, and finally the video came to a close. Brady watched an entire video. Day after day this has happened. It was not a one time event, it was not a fluke, Brady has truly developed his first real favorite. Along with it, my family has gotten our first real sense of "free time." I have been able to load the dishwasher and clean up the kitchen after dinner. My husband has been able to go on the computer and check his Facebook page for a few minutes. I know these are little things. Big things to us.
My daughter has never had to think about sharing the TV with her baby brother. But she would love that chance. My husband and I have done nothing but follow Brady around our house since he began to walk. Follow him around to make sure he doesn't fall or slip or pull things off the counter to come crashing down around him. Follow him around to make sure he doesn't get into trouble or hurt himself.
As parents, we couldn't catch our breath. We couldn't relax. We couldn't do simple tasks at home, that so many parents take for granted. We just wanted five minutes. We have gotten thirty. In the last several weeks, we have noticed many changes in Brady. He is happier. He smiles more. He is making more sounds and we are so hopeful that the words will follow soon...or at least, someday. He is playing with his sister. He gives us real, honest to goodness kisses and hugs. He is a new little boy. Not a different boy, but a new, stronger, happier version of himself. Sure, the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes and beginning an insulin regime has helped Brady feel so much better. His mind is clearer. His body is stronger. He feels like a new little boy. And he has a new routine. Now when we put on Brady's video, he has to ask us first. He hands us the video or the remote. He makes some noises to let us know what he wants. He even has songs he likes and doesn't like. Without fail, he always comes looking for us during "The Muffin Man"...he just doesn't like that one.
It is so wonderful to see him make choices. He drags his little wood chair over to the TV, sits down with a snack and watches his video for the duration. During those few minutes, Brady is just like any other 3 1/2 year old. We are just like any other family. Brady's sister, Molly has started to barter with Brady for TV time. Just like any other older sister would do with her little brother. She is more patient than most siblings. But even Molly has started to grow weary of the bear and his cheery friend the dinosaur, just like any other big sister would.
There is now such a sense of hope and even "normalcy", in a life that has been anything but. I know that a bear and dinosaur who sing and dance have not changed my little boy. I know that developmentally, Brady is finally ready to make choices, have favorites and pay attention. I know that Brady is at a stage in his life, where he is finally ready to communicate, in whatever way that may be. I know all these things. I also know that walking into the family room, after having the time to put our dinner plates away, and finding my special little boy, watching TV, with his arm draped so casually around his daddy, is truly the most remarkable thing I have seen in the past 3 1/2 years.
Something so small....is something so big in our house. We will continue to sing, dance and play our days away with Brady, as we watch him grow into a remarkable little boy.