I can't remember a better zoo day. TLF and Ambah were not only there but helping with the kiddlings (Iz's pal Violet came along); I discovered and took advantage of the zoo cafe's beer selection; and the older girls were entranced by the volunteer-saturated nature walk in the kids zoo, in which they got to interact with all the baby alligators, hedgehogs, chinchillas, newts, great horned owls, turtles, western toads, ferrets, and CA king snakes they liked. All good.
But not the best part of the day. The best part was hanging out with Leelo, watching him awaken to his surroundings and interact with all of us. His language and interaction were incredible! I really should print and post this entry to remind me that Leelo does make progress, that we're not driving ourselves and his therapy team crazy without reason.
He asked to go on the carousel the moment we arrived at the zoo. TLF helped him get on a horse while I monitored the three girls. (Ambah's delicate constitution meant she got off after one rotation.) Leelo quickly realized that he'd accidentally gotten on a stationary horse, spent a while looking around at all the pogoing horses, then turned and asked to "go up and down?" He got a moving horse on the very next ride. When it was time to get off the horse, he threw a fit. I thought he didn't want to get off the horse, but it turned out that he was merely refusing assistance--he was capable of getting his own chubby little butt off that saddle, thanks very much.
Later on he got sick of sitting in the double stroller, and said "Take off the buckle, mommy," which I did. He then said, "Come here, Mommy," grabbed my hand, and pulled me towards him. This was followed by, "Sit down, Mommy," and when I did as he asked, he sat down in my lap and pulled my arms around him in a big hug.
Later on he asked to "go up and down the stairs with Mommy" on a short staircase, which, because of TLF and Ambah's help with the other kids, I was able to do with him as many times as he wanted. You've no idea what a relief and a joy it is to be able to say "Yes, Leelo! You can do that and I will come with you!" Leelo is far more used to hearing No, or being told what to do. He was so happy he squealed the entire time.
Just before we left to go home, he asked to "Give Mommy kisses on the mouth," and did so several times in a row. Sweetie!
He correctly identified flamingoes and penguins (prompted), and ducks (spontaneously). He really wanted to play with the ducks, in their pond. Another time.
When TLF helped him take off his jacket after a long car ride from the frigid outer city to sweltering deadwood, he spontaneously told her "Thank you, thank you!"
What an excellent day. What a sweet, wonderful boy.
TLF took me out for dinner tonight as we had babysitting for all three (!) kids. (This would be my third evening out sans Mali, ever.) On the way home she sang Ave Maria (Schubert) in her angelic mezzo, and had me in tears.
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