Wednesday, December 2, 2015

An OMG moment at our back door

I came home from running errands the other evening, a rare trip without the baby. Max was standing at the back door. He has supersonic hearing and can detect a car pulling into our driveway basically from anywhere in our house. Max had a big smile on his face, as he always does when he sees me or Dave coming home. There's nothing like it to lift my mood at the end of a long day.

As usual, I knocked on the door so Sabrina, Dave or our babysitter would let me in. Twisting door knobs hasn't been in Max's repertoire of movements, exactly why I had that freakout months ago when the sitter closed Max's bedroom door and I heard him pounding on it to get out in the middle of the night.

And then: I saw Max fiddling with the knob and he pulled the door open.

I couldn't believe it.

I mean, sure, it was entirely possible that someday Max would be able to manipulate door knobs. But I'd gotten used to both of us waiting patiently at the door as someone else let me in. Sometimes, my acceptance of Max's challenges gets in the way of my hopes for him. It's a way of staving off disappointment, I know.

"Max, you opened the door yourself!!!" I screeched. It felt like winning the lottery, as it always does when Max does something new.

"YEAH!" he said, gleefully.

"Can you do it again?" I asked. Max nodded. I had to know it wasn't a fluke.

So I walked back out and closed the door. And again, Max jiggled the knob and opened it.

"OH MY GOD YOU OPENED THE DOOR!" I said, and gave him a hug.

"OMG!" said Max, and cracked up. He seemed so proud of himself.

Mind: blown. Just like that, all those years of Max not being able to let me into the house became a thing of the past. Although as with all the other accomplishments, big and small, I'll never take it for granted. There are plenty of times when I get flashes of gratitude that Max is walking up and down stairs/toilet trained/using an iPad and speech app/feeding himself/[insert various milestones and inchstones]. Although if one of these days Max jumps into the car, turns on the ignition and attempts to drive himself to the local ice-cream store, I will not be very happy.

The next night, as we sat in Max's bed reading a book, I asked him to turn the pages. I usually do it except I was feeding Ben. Max tried again and again, but inadvertently kept grasping the entire book; his fingers often don't do what he wants them to. His challenge with flipping pages is one of those things that I've never accepted. It pains me to see him struggling to do something that is so seemingly simple but isn't for a kid who has trouble using his hands.

Yet the open-door achievement had stayed with me. I lay Ben down on the bed so I could lend a hand. For once, though, I let myself hope that someday Max might be able to turn the pages of a book.


  1. YAY MAX!!!! That's a huge achievement and you should be very proud of yourself.

  2. Awesome job Max!!! I've felt the same way when my daughter achieves something that I never thought she would do! Congrats!

    On a side note, have you considered replacing your door knobs with lever style handles? We did in our house and it made a world of difference for my kiddo to be able to open doors independently. It's not terribly expensive and just a few screws.

  3. Cool! I forsee the opening of many literal and figurative doors in the future.

  4. to turn pages- a fat pencil- eraser end down-maybe separate pages enough for him to turn them

  5. I love it when something like this happens with Lindsey too! Way to go Max. My favorite line is this one: "Sometimes, my acceptance of Max's challenges gets in the way of my hopes for him. It's a way of staving off disappointment, I know." I have to protect myself at times too, Ellen. Great post.

  6. Hi! I am an OT who works in a school district - I continue to read your blog to keep myself grounded with what parents value / worry about! Sometimes therapists can lose sight of the reality of day-to-day life when we only see a kiddo once a week :-)

    Anyhow, I had to comment to see if you had tried tabbing the pages of Max's favorite books with strong post-it tabs (the kind meant to serve as page tabs are extra-heavy duty and work best). If you stagger them down the page at the side, it is easier to grasp one tab for the correct page and pinch to turn it. Some kiddos have trouble visually perceiving which tab to grab, so if that is a challenge, you could try numbering them. Obviously, this works best for books with less than 20 pages, haha. But I'm sure there are several fire-truck books in your house that would fit the criteria.

    I know you probably end up with a lot of well-meaning (but unsolicited) advice from your posts, so I hope you don't mind me adding my own thoughts. Congrats to Max on his most recent accomplishment!

  7. This is great news, but I'm surprised you don't have the lever style handles on all your doors. None-the less the dexterity is a great milestone for this awesome young man!!!


Thanks for sharing!

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