Something of a turning point is happening around here with W in terms of him understanding me and me understanding him. It’s like we met after taking a language lab off campus and we suddenly went from making crude jesters of communication with each other to actually using words and comprehending. I can ask him if he wants something and now, without a dramatic and interpretive (& sometimes aggressive) dance I know the answer.
Ages ago we learned that W was very much an admirer of a beautiful light fixture. Beautiful, in W’s eye, meant that it was high above his head or that it was ornate. If was within reach or ordinary it meant nothing to him. But a twinkling glass fixture glistening high? Oh he could chirp about that for ages. “The Light” was one of his first phrases. And if he was in a rough patch about to go to a full on toddler meltdown Mother or I could usually reach through and calm him down by asking him where the light was. No matter where we were he would stop his screams and search the room or great outdoors for a source of light.
This attraction has now morphed into a reward for good behavior. One of W’s locations of doom is the changing table- has been since his forever. There is thrashing, kicking, rolling, grabbing, and whatever is nearby will be thrown across the room. It makes for fun times when the diaper situation is at code HOLY SHIT. I tried all the tricks the books and newsletters suggested. I marveled at friends with babies that seemed like getting a diaper change was no big deal. Laughed heartily when it was suggested that I just begin changing him standing up.
Last week I saw that he happened to look up as we crossed the threshold to the bathroom for what my olfactory was telling me was bound to be a particularly unpleasant change. I said, “W, if you are a good boy while I change your pants you can touch the bathroom light.” And he looked at me like I was telling him he could have the car keys and move into IKEA. He looked up at the ceiling and as if to make sure we were speaking about the same thing he asked, “the light?” And I nodded my head. “Yes. If you are calm and good while I change you, you can touch the light.”
I swear it was like he didn’t breath the entire time I was changing him. He just looked up over my head at the light in wonder and hope. He didn’t flail, he didn’t fling, he didn’t toss the box of wet wipes across the room. He was good.
So I sat him up, fixed him up, and then held him up to the light saying, “one finger- touch!” He reached out one finger and quickly tapped the light. Then squealed and came back down and hugged my shoulder tight. “the light!” I told W that he had been such a good boy and he nodded that yes he had. And we kind of looked at each other. Understanding.