I can’t help but feel that we’re entering into a new stage when it comes to Hero’s limb difference, partly for the better and partly, I think, for the worse – at least for a little while. For the last two and a half years her difference has hardly been noticeable. Except for the odd blip when someone’s said or done the wrong thing, we’ve hardly had any issues at all. Certainly all of the worries and fears I nursed when I was pregnant and when she was tiny haven’t come to fruition.
But times are changing now; she’s almost two and a half and she’s starting to get a lot more dextrous and coordinated. She’s attempting things in a way she just wasn’t old enough to try before and is beginning to enjoy toys and games that are trickier to navigate with just one hand.
Juggling the baby
To celebrate the arrival of her new sister Hero was given a couple of dolls and some accessories for them, along with her new babies has come many more requests for help. Suddenly she’s coming to me a lot more than she used to. Help dressing and undressing her baby, help changing her baby’s nappy and help opening and closing the zip on her bag. Granted, most of these things any kid would need support with as they’re just starting out, but we’re definitely noticing the extra complication that having no right hand brings.
When she’s trying to fasten or unfasten the zip on her baby’s bag, she hasn’t yet figured out how to pin the other end with her little hand in order to give her enough tension to pull the zip across. So while she wants to carry the bag around on her pram, like Mummy does, it is currently inaccessible to her without help. She’s also struggling with baby’s nappy. She can’t yet wrap the nappy around baby with only one hand to grip with, and when she pulls the little fastenings across, the nappy comes with it and she has to start all over again.
As she gets older she’ll figure out ways of doing all of these things, but right now she’s just starting out and her little hand is becoming more of a challenge than it’s been for her before. She now has outbursts from time to time, always short lived, of sheer frustration as her fledgling independence is thwarted.
I was watching her play with her dolls’ house this morning, ensconced entirely in her own wonderful world. It was a rare chance to just sit and observe, as usually I’m roped in to play as well. The traditional format is that I have one of the dolls and she has the other and we pretend they’re talking as we hold the little people up to look at one another.
Playing on her own, however, conversations between her dolls suddenly became a little trickier to orchestrate. I watched her try to figure out how she could move them both at the same time, her little hand kept knocking the second doll over. Eventually, she gave up and laid one figure down on the floor and held up the other one like a floating spirit looking down on them while they ‘chatted’. She didn’t notice anything was amiss and carried on with her game as happy as Larry. Behind her, though, my heart was aching in a familiar way.
Horse riding hurdles
Then there was the other mini wobble we had, the worse bit of which was that this one was entirely my fault. Hero and I had been playing with some figures and, without thinking, I showed her how she could hold one of the people on the back of the toy horse and pretend it was riding. She loved the idea and went to do the same only to discover that for her it was impossible. With her little hand she couldn’t hold the figure up and move the horse at the same time. She quickly got frustrated, a little upset and the horse was relegated unceremoniously to the floor.
It was a brief moment, all but forgotten by her within seconds, but I felt dreadful. With a new baby in the mix I’m a little short on sleep and I think I’ve been less in tune than I normally would be, but to actively suggest something she can’t physically do seemed more than a little harsh and it’s played on my mind ever since. Perhaps as much because it heralds a whole new phase of experiences and frustrations coming our way as because it had been caused by me.
As Hero gets older and learns more about what her body can do she’ll find ways of making things like this work. However, before we get to that happy place I think we’re going to go through a period of trial and occasional frustration, at least for a little while. She’s of an age where she’s ready for the next challenge, but hasn’t quite got the problem solving skills to work out different methods if she can’t emulate the techniques used by her two-handed peers. After all, as her goals get bigger and more ambitious, it will inevitably become more challenging for her to achieve them.
Exciting times ahead
While I’m a little apprehensive about this new phase I also know that the whole thing will have more impact on my emotions than it will be on hers, and I take heart from that! I doubt she’ll even remember these little trial and errors. These changes are also the harbingers of some exciting new times ahead. They’re a sign that she’s growing in skill and ability; a sign that she’s pushing herself forward to new things and will be using her little hand in ever more confident and adventurous ways. These changes are the heralds of a whole wealth of new abilities and skills that I cannot wait to see her master.