Fighter is a very insistent child. I've seen him repeat 'HELLO' firmly to a stranger a half dozen times before they responded to him, adamant that they were NOT going to move on with their lives without acknowledging his existence.
So his new game--taught to him by his Nana at Superhero's tee ball game a few weeks ago--always starts the same way: Fighter will sign and say "I" repeatedly until the victi-err, participant of his choice repeats "I" back to him. Next is the signing and statement of "Love", also repeated by the participant, followed by "YOU!"--and then munching (picture an adult pretending to munch a child's neck. Fighter usually substitutes his own arm. And frequently, there is real munching.) This has become his favorite game, played in repetitions lasting as long as fifteen minutes, multiple times a day with anyone he can corner. And of course, we're very happy to participate. A three word sentence with clear understanding is HUGE progress for Fighter, so it's a real pleasure for the adults in his life to play along with him.
Today, while playing the I love you game, John smiled and said "Say 'Thank you Nana.'". Now, every parent finds themselves asking their kids to parrot them, with phrases like "Say I'll see you soon, Grandpa" or "What do we say when our friend gives us a birthday gift?" rolling off our tongues almost without thought. But with Fighter, it really is habit that makes us make our requests, as he has never repeated anything we've asked him to. So imagine our shock when he looked at his daddy, beaming with excitement, and said "Thank you Nana!" He has been working SO HARD lately, and the progress he's making is astounding. And while I know that our work (our including me, John, his school staff, and his therapists) is contributing to it, for these two particular breakthroughs, we have Nana to thank.
Raising an exceptional child is exhausting in the best of circumstances. Raising THREE exceptional children is overwhelming. Raising three exceptional children while dealing with work related injuries, sick family members, community activities, and a full-time university course load is--to be honest, I'm not sure there is a word for it. Having an extended family that not only helps out, but actively works to discover the best ways to help our boys is a blessing so large that there isn't a word for that, either. We are blessed to have our boys, and our blessings are multiplied by parents willing to go the extra mile for their grandchildren.