One strange thing about raising a child with developmental delays is the odd combination of pride, embarrassment, and wistfulness you experience when your kid finally reaches some totally common milestone. In the last 24 hours, my four-year-old has discovered the joys of both squirting bath toys and playing in cardboard boxes.
Yeah, people always remind me how far Ryan has come, and they always tell me to ignore milestones. But dammit, playing in a cardboard box is one of those basic toddler occupations and it's hard for me to accept that my kid hasn't been developmentally "ready" to play in a freaking box until now. It's somehow easier for me to accept that he has been late to come around to squirty bath toys: there's the motor skills required to squeeze the ducky; the aversion to the sensation of the squirting water; the order of operations involved in filling, emptying, and refilling the ducky...
I think back to when Ryan was a year old and still wasn't feeding himself Cheerios, and the joy we felt when, at 13 months, he finally put a piece of bread into his mouth on his own. We didn't know at the time that this was going to be just the first in a series of uncomfortably ecstatic moments - being as excited as you can that your child is doing something he "should have been doing" months or years before.
I hadn't even realized that Ryan had never really thrown himself into a cardboard box until I saw him do it this evening. The box he chose: a four-inch-deep Amazon.com box designed to hold two or three books. He tried to crawl into it, broke it, made me tape it back together. I found a larger box for him to play with instead; he climbed right in and covered the box with his blanket.
Just like a real kid.