Lately, Freddy has gotten very into Star Trek, and we have been watching a lot of episodes of the various shows. That made it particularly striking when one of my favorite blogs, On the Train With Sophie, mentioned a Star Trek Voyager episode in a blog entry---an entry that made me think and think. Read it here, if you wish! The entry is about how in many ways, Sophie stands still in time, while her siblings seem to be in a different time flow--moving on and growing up fast.
In many ways, Janey stands still in time too. I thought of that this morning. We can never count on a full night's sleep, and are happy when we get it. She wakes up wet, and needs a change. She runs around the house as if she is excited she can finally run. She comes to us and asks, in a phrase that could easily be that of a two year old "Strawberry milk?" We tell her "I love you!" and she echoes it back "I love you!" and we are thrilled. Nothing she does would be unusual in a toddler. Only her 9 year old body shows that she is no longer two.
We think in this society in terms of progress, moving forward, striving always for the next level. At school, success is measured in progress, in a line moving up a graph. When we talk about our kids to others, it's almost always progress we discuss---they are walking! They started kindergarten! They are in high school! They have gotten into college! It's how we see a life going---it's how we feel we are on the right track. So how do we deal with a child that doesn't progress in the typical way?
Of course, as I wrote in my last entry, there is progress with Janey. But in a way, it's lateral progress. She is refining being at the stage she is in. She is coming to feel at ease with the level she is at. And if we let ourselves change our thinking, what is wrong with that? What is wrong with being developmentally a toddler, and getting better and better and better at it? She knows how to be at the stage she's in. She knows how to delight us, as toddlers do, with her sweet talk. She knows what videos she likes, what textures feel good to touch, what foods she likes and what she doesn't. She knows what books she likes having read to her. She knows how to ask us for the basics in her life.
What if we put aside our traditional views of time and development? What if we accepted that Janey might not move forward? Please note I am NOT saying that I am going to do this. I am just entertaining the thought. In reality, I am still in our current time flow. I want Janey to progress, because, quite frankly, time also is moving along for Tony and me. We are getting older. We will some day come to an elderly stage, and some day, we will be gone. That is why, I think at heart, parents want their children to progress. We want to know that when we are no longer around to care for them, they will be able to care for themselves. Beyond that, I know Janey would be happier in a lot of ways if she was able to progress. I think she'd love to be able to read. I think she'd enjoy being able to have a real conversation. I think she would relish the ability to do more for herself. But what if we accepted that none of that might happen? What if we concentrated on enhancing the stage she is in right now? What if Janey is in a time anomaly? It happens in the Star Trek world all the time. They run up against all kinds of time oddities. I am not literally saying I think that is the case here, but like Star Trek showed us a optimistic view of the future, maybe we can learn from it to accept that time isn't the same for all of us.