Million Dollar Snuggles

This new “snuggly” Corrigan is some kind of awesome.

He crawls into our laps many times a day now. Knock me over with a feather, he sometimes curls up and falls asleep there too. This the child that would not allow us to hold him while he took a bottle, even as a very small baby.  A child that would tense up so much when I would try to sit and cuddle that I could feel his heart beating out from his chest. Like a frightened little birdy, he was averse to being loved in such a restricting way.

It has always made me sad.

We know why.  Pediatric Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Who can blame him?

But!

His eye contact is nearly normal now. Not long ago, mid-Autumn, he decided that he trusted us enough to look at us and with that step came rapid improvements in language development (hard to learn to talk when you won’t look at human beings and watch how they move their mouths!) and in emotional areas as well.  He started to understand facial expressions and would adjust his behavior accordingly.

With the eye contact came the realization, I think, that we were not going to hurt him.  I truly believe that he understood what love was by seeing it in our faces, by finding it deep in our eyes. He began to get closer and closer, sitting next to us more and more, and placing his head against us.  Eventually, he moved to our lap and would spend a few minutes watching a video or listening to a song.

Now he will crawl up into our laps and sing to himself.  He will place his hand against my chest, or twist his fingers in my shirt and fall asleep.  It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But it was a complicated process, one that took over two years, and now it feels so normal. A lot of things are starting to feel so normal these days, I am almost bursting with hope.

He can count. Okay, so he doesn’t like the number one…or four…but he is trying.

“Choo, three, bive, six, sessy, eight!” he says while moving his fingers as if counting them off, one by one.

Last week he suddenly announced, “Blue!” and then “YELLOW!” and now, “Purple!”

He is learning to say the alphabet. Right now he can say 11 of his letters.  He can also identify those letters in a lineup, or in a book.  He watches the credits roll, after a movie, and points to the names as they scroll up the screen yelling, “J!” or “O!”

Last night, he walked up to me while I was sitting at my desk and sternly said, “NO!”  I turned to him questioningly and he was looking right in my eyes then.  He reached up with his pointer finger, very carefully I might add, and touched it to the tip of my nose and said again, “NO!”   We need to work on adding the “SE” to his “NO” but I knew what he meant.

He has never, despite the thousands of times that I have prompted him, identified a body part.  You should have seen me squealing, tossing him up in the air like he just made the winning shot at a championship game.  He thought I was hilarious.  I thought that he was amazing. We were both grinning like idiots.

I catch him laughing at funny parts during the Wiggles, or Blue’s Clues.  He is learning in ways that we thought he might not ever learn.  He reminds us to pray before each meal by climbing up on his chair, looking at each of us expectantly and when he is sure we are all looking will raise his two little hands and press them together in prayer. He will never take a bite of food without pressing his hands together first.  He is understanding the routine of our family.

He is understanding.  Holy smokes, that is so big.

He loves us. He trusts us. He is one of us. There is nothing sweeter in the world.

( a snuggle with Grandma on Thanksgiving Day)

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