Paolo is making great strides with reading. I don’t know who is more excited by his progress, him or me. He brought home his mid-year report card, and I am really pleased with it. The only suggested area of improvement is counting. He counts to 59, but then starts over at 40. Let’s see, he is five, he is in kindergarten, and HE COUNTS TO 59!! That sounds alright to me. He also got to bring home his journal, which provides real insight to the things and events that are important to him. Most of the journal is superheroes and villains, and Paolo jumping on furniture, but there are pages devoted to visiting grandparents and picking up the baby at the hospital. In hindsight, I’m starting to think it was a cop-out not explaining to Paolo that I was carrying the baby. He thinks we hopped in the car and went to get a baby like it was a gallon of milk we needed for breakfast.
Paolo got a new journal at school for the second half of the year, and we like to ask him what he is putting in it. Sometimes we suggest things, like how he’ll probably want to mention that Mama took him to see the Wizard of Oz musical. (What he actually wrote was that he saw his classmate at the theatre. Mama is chopped liver, apparently). Last night during dinner, Sam asked what he had written in his journal that morning, and Paolo said he’d written that he loves his mama. It felt like the world stopped and my heart exploded, but not in a gross way, like an explosion of happy confetti. Does that make any sense? All I know is I want to bottle that memory of my son’s sweet voice saying he loves me and carry it around for the rest of my life.
Luca, on the other hand, still isn't talking. I’m taking it personally. He is not a complete dolt, however. He has mastered the stairs, as well as the slide he got for Christmas. He is still drooling like a Great Dane, and it bugs me because there is no reason for it. He has all of his teeth except for his two-year molars, and none of his peers at daycare soak six bibs a day. I googled excessive drooling and, sure enough, found all sorts of things to worry about, like retropharyngeal abscesses, peritonsillar abscesses, tonsillitis, oral-motor disorder, and autism. But then everything points to autism. These days, everybody’s kid is autistic somewhere on “the spectrum.”
I’m so over autism. Parents worry themselves sick over SIDS, and just when a child outgrows that danger, we have to start worrying about autism. And the beauty of that peach of a disorder is that we still don’t know what causes it; we only know the numbers are skyrocketing. Thanks to the alarming rise in autism, the disorder has become mainstream, with new methods of diagnosis and treatment, and more and better resources for autistic children and their families. I am not comforted by the knowledge that my kid will have lots of company if he’s hit with the dummy stick. I want my kids to be perfect, or at least free of major defects. It takes a special person to care for a special needs child. I am not special. So I really wish my 16-month-old would start talking and quit drooling. I thought the term “drooling” was gross until I ran across “salivary incontinence.” Gack.