Does she understand that she has to stay in her bed? Does she understand why? Does she understand that I still love her even when I lecture her and put her back in her bed for the zillionth time? Should I just not bother trying to teach her because she might not understand? Does she understand why I'm not as happy to see her out of bed as she is happy to see me? Does she understand the concept of "stay" when nothing physically is holding her back? Can she mentally comprehend the choice and then choose to obey?
I know in past crusades I have shouted to the world to NOT UNDERESTIMATE my daughter just because she has Down syndrome and yet I confess: I find myself doing this very thing.
Addison is very beautiful with doll-like features (in my humble opinion), but there's something about the way that she stares at you that doesn't always make it seem like she understands what you're saying. She tucks away knowledge in her brain and then pretends it's not there which makes me wonder more often than not if she just "doesn't understand".
There are then moments that she shows her brilliance, in ways that I perhaps wasn't looking for it, and then I always feel embarrassed that I assumed something about her that wasn't even close to being correct.
For example: her toddler bed. On that first day when she just tore apart her room, I desperately sought for answers to help make her just not do it instead of figuring out a way for her to CHOOSE not to do it. Because I just wasn't sure if she could understand that decision. (hang head sheepishly)
And yet as the word "NO" got such a workout here over the weekend (that word must be very fit), and Addison was put back in her bed time and time and time again (a zillion times), and I could see it in her eyes when the concept clicked (when she understood she cried when I left her in her bed- she was sad about not getting to play with her toys)...she proved to me that she DID understand.
Does she always make the right choice? No. Is the transition complete? Not quite. But last night she was a bit wound up still when bed time came around, and although she circled to every corner of her bed, she stayed IN HER BED before falling asleep on her pillow. (Although she did sneak out of bed to grab the radio off the floor to mess with the dials and change stations to better dancing tunes. But the fact that she got it QUICKLY and then got back in bed before I saw her shows comprehension as well because before she would be sitting on the floor with the radio when I came by and would just smile and laugh at me.)
When my tears of frustration thinking that she would always be a baby in this way turned to stubborn tears of a smart toddler being mad that she couldn't get her way- I could see how wrong I was in my initial fear. Of course she understands!
This morning when I went to get her up, she was standing by her (baby-gated) door and as soon as she saw me she said "No, no, no, no" while shaking her head and looking guilty. That's when I explained that of course she could be out of bed now because it was time to get up and start the day. That in itself was a huge step from her initial response of "Hey! Mom's stopping by for a social play visit!" smile that she gave me when I caught her out of bed the first hundred times. She gets it.
Anyway, all that to say, Addison has once again proven me wrong. (I think this is her life's motto).
She DOES understand- far more than I often give her credit for. And other than that first night of hearing cries at all hours of the night and finding her huddled on the cold floor all around her room trying to figure out where she was (still asleep), the bed transition has been a success (knock on wood) because she is a big girl. A smart big girl who understands that she has to stay in her bed once play time is over. Have I mentioned lately how much I love my Addison?
(she wanted a snack so she found tortilla shells in the pantry, helped herself, and then held them tightly in her little fist so that her brother couldn't get any)