Progress was slow and arduous for many, many months. Katie's patience and steadfast determination allowed her to weather the storms of Pax's fits of rage. Sometimes, he threw blocks at her. He hit her. He tried to bite her. Mostly, as she coaxed him into using the words she knew he had, he scowled at her, shot her dirty looks, refused to say goodbye to her.
Gradually, though, her patience and her kindness and her understanding won him over. In February, when we had to buy a new goldfish for Pax to replace the one that had died, Pax rejected every name suggestion we offered, until the last one--
"Pax," I said excitedly. "What about if you named your fish Katie?"
He beamed, nodded his head vigorously, and beamed some more. Katie Goldfish - a play on her last name, as well. On her next visit, he was eager to introduce her to her namesake, and she was honored by the name choice. "I think that's the first pet that has ever been named after me," she said.
With regret, Katie let us know some months ago that her husband had gotten a new job, and that they were moving. Perhaps sensing that their time together was coming to a close, Pax seemed to redouble his efforts these past few weeks, and gave it all he has. Pax has quite a ways to go, still, but it was a celebratory farewell we said to Katie on her last day, one that was filled to overflowing with words, with happy play, with sweet hugs and fits of giggles. It was a beautiful way for Pax to say goodbye to his beloved Katie, who is also one of his best and fiercest advocates.
It feels exciting to list those words he's used in abundance these past two weeks:
apple juice (thank you, flight attendant, for frequently offering us drinks!)
two minutes! (this one has been perfected. As in two more minutes of whatever I am doing, please!)
baby pool (delivered with great urgency, as in, I want to go there NOW!)
dead (and not dead. Indicated with a vigorous shake of the head, followed by "dead." Applies to many bugs we find, inside and out).
hot tub (thank you, Palm Springs, California!)
Hyatt (thank you, airport hotel shuttle!)
happy (as in "happy boy." He says this one a lot.)
one, two (and more, with modeling, first).
love (I can prompt him to say I... love.... Mama!!)
Sometimes, his delivery is perfect beyond his age and his ability. On vacation, Pax necessarily shared a bed with us at two hotels and one rental home. Thankfully, they were all king sized - a luxury we don't even have at our own home. So after 8 nights of not sleeping in our own beds, we were all grateful to be home again.... though Pax still found his way into my bed at some point in the night. In the morning, I asked Pax,
"Did you like sleeping in your very own bed last night?"
He replied, "No!"
I said again, "You didn't like sleeping in your very own bed?"
"No," he said. Paused. "Mama's," with emphasis on the possessive.
Still, there are moments when his silent expression is most eloquent of all. And it is these moments I will miss the most, despite how loquacious or eloquent he may become. One night, Pax kept searching through one book after another, clearly looking for one in particular. I tried to help him, naming favorite characters or often-read titles. Finally, I asked him, "Pax, can you show me what the book is like?"
And this is what he did:
Obviously, as plain as day, I knew what he wanted -