The differences in Lauren compared to Ryan at this age and other kids her age are becoming so apparent. She just seems...blissfully unaware of her surroundings. I say blissfully because she's very obviously happy. But she just seems so unaware.
It's like she wants to be an active participant in her surroundings but she can't. Her vision and hearing have checked out just fine, though we do see them both again this fall. Sometimes she rocks back and forth and shouts, which is adorable and yet obvious stimming behavior. I don't think she has autism. I think it's more characteristic of Down syndrome.
I've been thinking about what her future looks like in the way of education an I know that she will determine her own path. I am by no means intending to place limits on her, but already at the age of 18 months she seems so far behind.
It's not the lack of speech, Ryan didn't speak at this age. She even signs a few words, which I think is amazing! I couldn't be more proud. It's not that she doesn't interact with us, because she certainly does. She is so lively and seems to feel joy on a level most of us are unable to reach. I can't put my finger on exactly what is different, it just is.
We saw a family out yesterday with a little girl who was about 8-10 months old. She was just so much different than Lauren. She was aware and interacting on a level Lauren has not yet reached. I honestly expected to be sad or disappointed when I made the inevitable comparison to Lauren. But I wasn't. I noticed it in a way you notice another person has a different skin color- it doesn't affect anything, it's just different. I wasn't sad or upset or disappointed. Should I be? It was almost unsettling.
I want Lauren to have dreams and hopes. I want her to learn a good work ethic and try hard to gain the full appreciation for success. I want her to shoot for the moon. But at what point do I guard her heart? When do I steer her towards realistic, attainable goals? When do I steer myself towards realistic goals for her? I love her so much it hurts sometimes, like a deep pressing ache in my chest that seems to reach my very soul.
I look at it this way. To trivialize it: I'm 5'3" on my tallest day. What if I had wanted nothing more than to play for the WNBA? My parents probably would've encouraged my (hypothetical and nonexistent) love of basketball but somehow made in known that that was not a realistic goal to set for myself.
It's an aspect of parenting I'm sure I need to grow into. I've only been on this journey for three and a half years. Only eighteen months with Lauren. I'm hoping that in time I will gain some of this knowledge through experiences, support, advice and prayer. It's kind of a scary road to travel.