Who knows how the whole nickname thing gets started? Actually, you usually know how they get started, but just how and why they end up sticking takes on a life of its own.
Tali is Noopsie, actually Daddy's pretty much the only one who still uses this one. Noopsie of course evolved from Snoopsie which evolved from Snoopy which evolved from Munchkin. I agree, Tali is a perfectly nice name. When Julian came along and Adrian (Mr Scissorhands-yes, nickname) called him Noopsie, well Tali had to remind Daddy that one was taken. Musing aloud - Adrian said "well, let's see, I dub thee Doopsie. But that's not enough on its own, you need more of a title. Okay, I dub thee "Choo Choo el Doopsie!". Choo Choo for short, we silly Americans shorten everyone's name.
Julian is 4 1/2 years old and not a day goes by that I do not call him Choo Choo. Adrian's mom calls him "Chootchlee", some sort of Romanian/Hungarian take on it. My entire family asks "how's Choo Choo?" in conversation, all with different inflections - ddddeeep voice Choo Choo, quick and high tone all together ChooChoo, like the sound of the actual engine, chooooo chooo! We have a long running joke recalling how I would try to get Julian to eat by saying, "Choo Choo, chew" or "Chew, Choo Choo" or just "Chew chew chew", cracked him up every time.
How's Choo Choo? Let's ask him as someone did this evening. "How are you Julian?" Choo Choo's response "There was a dead bug." Oh? "Yeah, it was resting" Hhhm? "Maybe it ate too much honey". Sticky situation. "When's your birthday Julian" (a non-family member asking of course) "in July" called over his shoulder. Close, November. It is at this point that such conversations lose their appeal for Julian. He does not like to be cornered into this area that he does not excel at. Apparently, the dead bug was the most impressive part of Tali's violin recital. Certainly worthy of mention - over and over and over. But this is just a tiny glimpse into Choo Choo's world.
The developmental apple cart was upset just a tiny bit at Julian's 15 month well baby check-up. All health issues fine - growing well, happy, sweet, an all around joy, rarely cries, still breastfeeding. Conversation with Julian's pediatrician:
Dr. R: Any words yet? Me: Babbling, he's trying. Dr. R: Trying to take any steps? Me: Ummm, trying, mostly still prefers crawling, though. Patty cake? Doesn't really now that you mention it. How does he indicate what he would like, does he point? I remember joking (maybe pleading), "Could it be that we take such good care of him, he never needs to indicate?" I asked weakly. Probably not. Dr. R. had begun to lay the groundwork by saying, "You know, in and of itself, his not walking and talking yet don't concern me so much - some children are just late bloomers. But coupled with his not reaching some of the "play milestones" makes it a little different. So let's have him come in a little before 18 months and we'll see how he's doing. I know I had begun to feel that sense of unreality, that surreal quality of floating and not hearing anything else as I dressed up Julian, paid the copay and traveled home. Sure I talked to Julian as I always did, sang to him on the way home in the car as I blinked back tears, but I was just not present in my body at that time. Then I regrouped (probably as someone blared on their horn when I sat at the green light) and came up with all the reasons that Dr. R. was wrong. Julian was discriminating, not delayed. He chose not to play patty cake - it really is an overrated game! He kinda liked peek-a-boo. Now peek-a-boo, that's a game! He liked to play with my hair, it soothed him.
Truth is I never compared my children. I just didn't. I mean sure in the, "oh he reminds me of Tali when he makes that face. His hair is a little darker than hers come to think of it - both curly though". That really was the only sort of comparison that I did. Tali was a girl - Julian was a boy. Story goes, girls are quicker in general on the early developmental scale, boys take their time. Besides, Tali was early with everything. She started talking early - 8 months, walking 12 months. By 15 months, she pretty much had the whole developmental thing sewn up. She was a girl, Julian needed a little more time - who was I to rush him and make him feel badly?
Fast forward - with a little trepidation, but what joy, Julian took his first three steps between Mommy and Daddy on our front walk at 17 1/2 months! Right about then we did go back to Dr. R who gently walked us through the developmental issues and recommended we have him evaluated through the state's Early Intervention Program (EI) which we did. If you think I felt sucker punched after Dr. R. first broaching the topic, you can only imagine how we felt after we went through the various evaluations at our house and read the subsequent written evaluations. To qualify for therapy under EI, you need to display significant developmental delay (33%) in one area or at least 25% in two. Julian was delayed in cognitive, gross motor, fine motor and yes those damned play skills. Suffice it to say, he aced the test and therapies commenced shortly thereafter.
Julian received therapies at home every day from Monday to Friday. One day O/T P/T, next day Speech O/T, next day Special Educator P/T, etc. All handled with Choo Choo's usual good nature. Julian was seen by a Pediatric Neurologist, had an MRI of the brain and spine - normal. If you've ever been to a neurologist, well they're not fun. They are very matter of fact it seems to me when discussing your child's neurological make-up. Julian has no "diagnosis", per se. He struggles with global developmental delay and sensory intergration issues. This loosely translated means that Julian craves deep physical input and does not always realize when he has crossed the boundary of too much of a hug - say to kids on the playground, or when he is a close talker, say when his nose is up against his buddy's cheek. Even though he walked, his balance was off and he fell - a lot. Between his second and third year, so many pictures of him had black and blue marks on his beautiful little face. He broke his femur and had to be in a spica cast (a cast that is on both legs and ends up above the waist). Can't even go into this one here.
The one thing that Julian was off the charts in was charm! I can't properly put into words how the joy that he brings us just breaks your heart it so dynamic. As Adrian said early on when he was only a few months old , "is there a magnet in that little heart of yours"? It's how it feels to this day, he draws you in and you are his.
We all know, there are no easy answers when it comes to matters children. Julian has made great strides, his balance is a lot better. He still grapples with expressing himself and having meaningful conversations with people outside of school and family. When that occurs, he'll just turn on the charm and ask "Want some tea Mrs. Nesbit?" He's having a pretty hard time with writing and hence avoids it if at all possible. He's in a wonderful preschool and of course, still receives all of the various therapies. The key is to being the take no prisoners sort of advocate that we as parents have become. It's worked so far. Public speaking is not my favorite thing to do, but put me in a board room with various people of different disciplines deciding my child's fate and just try to shut me up. And Adrian just cuts to the chase - this is what he needs, how are you going to get that for him?
My inscription on his cast (on the bar that connected and kept his legs in place to heal) - here comes Choo Choo! Here comes Choo Choo indeed.