Happy Garbage Day! Matthew celebrates everything - from "Happy Monday" to "Happy December", he looks for the positive and wants to wish everyone a "happy" whatever day it is. On the first day of a new month, he tells me that he can't wait to get to school so he can wish his teachers a "Happy December". When we woke up on December 3rd last month, he was the first one to say "Happy Half Birthday, Daddy". He calls his Nana everyday, and 3 days per week he wishes her a "Happy Garbage Day" (yes, she has garbage or recycling pick up 3 times a week!), and on Fridays, he calls her to ask, "do you have something to say to me?" and of course, Nana's response is, "Happy Garbage Day, Matthew".
Matthew is teaching us the value in celebrating the small things that usually go unnoticed. Garbage day, a new month, a half birthday, - he is genuinely excited about these events, they mean something to him and he wants to share his happiness with others.
As a baby and toddler, Matthew had 8 different early intervention providers helping him work on developmental skills that he was not meeting on his own. Developmental Delay is what they called it when he was a baby. From the age of one till he was three, our doorbell rang 14 times a week for the sessions Matthew had with speech therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists and special education teachers. These amazing women provided the hope I needed that one day Matthew would walk and talk - and they provided for Matthew their expert skills in helping him get from step A to step B. Most importantly, I think they showed us all how to celebrate the small successes that turned into meeting milestones. I have these patient, understanding and intelligent women to thank for instilling in Matthew a love for celebrating.
One such celebration that we worked on during the early intervention years (and beyond) was blowing. For children who have a speech disorder like Matthew, any mouth movements are difficult and unnatural. We worked on blowing for over 2 years. We wanted the blowing practice to be really motivating for Matthew, so we used a candle in a gluten free pancake and sang "Happy Birthday". We would do this a few times a week for years - and several times a day during the weeks before his birthday. His eyes lit up every time, he loved the singing and the excitement of pretending it was his birthday, but he just could not get the blowing pattern down. Finally, one of our speech therapists suggested we cut a straw down to about 3 inches, and put it in his mouth - it worked! He was blowing out his candles! Now we really had something to celebrate!