Elijah is also starting to show me that there is a LOT he understands. While Christian was reading tonight, he would describe certain pictures from the pages to Elijah. Christian would say, Look, Elijah! See how the cat spilled the milk? It went Smack! Splat! Elijah looked Christian right in the face, intently and nodded his head and said slowly, "Yeah. Yeah." They did this together a few times- Christian pointing out certain pictures and Elijah agreeing with a "Yeah. Yeah." It seemed so clear and smart- as if he totally gets us and everything we say and do, but he's stuck with just a few almost-words and some signing to communicate his understanding.
I taught Elijah the sign (language) for "Apple" a few weeks ago and it was one he picked up and began using regularly, as if Oh Thank you! I've been DYING to ask for an apple and just didn't know how to tell you! He uses it- a LOT. He uses it so much that I began to get suspicious if he actually knew what it meant. Yes, he would sign for apple while eating meals and when I would bring him an apple or applesauce, he would smile and get excited. But, he said it so often that I was suspicious- I just didn't know if he really liked apples THAT much. Tonight, in the middle of cooking dinner, I realized I was missing a main ingredient and had to walk with the boys down to the corner market to grab what we needed. While there, Christian asked if I could buy some apples too (and Cheetos and popsicles and one of those airplane spinner candy holders.) I granted his apple request and when we got to the register, I put the apples on the belt. I leaned down to get the next item out of the cart and Elijah signed "Apple".
Maybe I shouldn't sound amazed. I know my kid and I know he's brighter than most people will likely give him credit for, but sometimes he's even brighter than I give him credit for. Elijah has a handful of word approximations now (words that start with the sound or are close to sounding like the actual word), but only one real, clear word: "Yeah". He's been saying it for over a year now. He's never used it when he clearly means no. He answers appropriately every time. And yet, he answers Yeah to so many things that I couldn't imagine that he understands them all. But...maybe he does. He amazes me. He really does. He's just plugging along in this life, doing his thing. It's at a slower rate than most everyone else, but he really seems to be doing it all anyway: Answering questions (as long as it's Yeah or No), following directions, trying to dress himself, feed himself, take out and put away his own toys. He sees cool things his brother or other kids do and he wants to try them. He's just my teeny, tiny little trooper, under dog and I couldn't be more impressed with him if I tried.
This picture is one I stare at over and over. We were having a moment together and he got up from sitting next to me, grabbed his shoes, pulled himself up onto a chair and attempted to put his shoes on. (He doesn't have the fine motor skills to get the shoes on yet, but he wants to be able to do it!) I grabbed my phone and snapped. I'll admit that I sometimes look at this picture when he's sleeping and make little pinchy fingers at the picture like I'm smooshing his cute, little face.
My boys are in a phase where they are astounding me at every turn- from my firstborn using big, actual vocabulary-worthy words in a sentence to my little one nodding his head in agreement. Yeah. Yeah. I want to freeze time for just a moment and breathe this in. (Deep breath.)