Last night Jason and I were snacking on some cheese -- the stinky, ooky, weirdo cheeses that scare everybody else but oh God, I could eat an entire wheel, hell, I could build a car out of them and then eat all four wheels -- and Noah came over and asked for some. He signed cheese, over and over, and would not accept our explanation that this was probably not the kind of cheese he'd like. He insisted, so Jason gave him a bite.
He gingerly touched it to his tongue, and then promptly handed it back to Jason.
"Yuck," he said, clear as day.
I wonder when we'll stop celebrating every word. When we'll just nod and shrug and go on with our meal instead of pumping our fists in the air and laughing, like holy crap, did you just hear that? I wonder when I'll move him out of the "speech-delayed, present tense" and into the "speech-delayed, past tense, can you believe this kid used to ever not talk?", and when I'll stop flinching when strangers ask him questions he can't answer (What's your name? How old are you? You must be talkin' up a storm these days, huh?) and when family members ask me what sign he's making for the millionth time.
He's catching up, bit by bit and word by word. I feel like he's the least speech-delayed kid in early intervention -- like we already have no business being there anymore, OT issues aside -- but I still can't quite shake the worry that he's still not quite where he "should" be. Even though I honestly don't even know where, exactly, that is.
Four months ago, before the "diagnosis" and signing and speech therapy, he had five words, maybe six. Today, as of right now, including "hurt" which he just said for the first time five minutes ago, he has 71. I know that because I've written each and every one down. I wonder when I'll stop doing that too, like I did with the list of signs when I realized that he basically knew every sign on every DVD.
I'm ready to let go of the labels and the worry. I'm even ready to let go of the lists.
But I'm not ready to stop the celebrating.
I kind of hope I never will.