Mali, at Home and at the MIND Institute
(From 12/17. Still going through the post fragment pile.)
Our Mali is a hoot. Definitely a little sister: the things that come out of her mouth, her facial expressions, and her gestures are frequently those of, say, another girl who is about to turn nine. This morning when Leelo, Iz, and I woke her up when we arrived back from early-morning errands. She stood at the top of the stairs and yelled, "Good morning, guys!" When I told her that I had a bagel for her, she said (in her very best Iz-speak), "Wow, that's cool!"
The fact that she thinks hitting people is funny and totally okay is more evocative of a little boy who recently turned seven.
She has definitely become a real person, a conversational person, an opinionated and forthright person. She can hold her own with Iz in an argument, through sheer force of will. I didn't ever think I'd feel sorry for Iz in any sort of intra-familial debate, but Mali just may kick her ass. Yesterday Mali and I were sitting on the couch watching The Princess Bride with Iz, when the girls got into an argument over who loved their Mommy more (be still, my heart). Since Mali is newly three, the argument devolved into whose mommy I was was. "My Mommy!" "No, MY Mommy!" Eventually Mali leaned over me, stuck her nose up to Iz's, and growled, "NOT YOURS!"
She is still sleeping with us because "I just don't want to sleep by myself!"
Mali is also a sweet, empathetic girl who spontaneously pats us, telling us how much she loves us and how beautiful we are. She bounces up to everyone, including strangers, with a big smile and a (leg) hug. If we are standing on a street corner waiting to cross the street, she will wave at people in cars (and they will usually smile and wave back).
Her MIND Institute evaluation on 12/3 was actually ... fun. She was at or above age level on every factor. And it was reassuring to see the positive reactions she elicited from the behavioral pediatrician who evaluated her: Mali helped put away most of the toys and puzzles, and said please, thank you, and other social pleasantries without being prompted, to the point where the evaluator looked at me, flabbergasted, and asked how I got our girl to behave so nicely. My flip answer was "Montessori preschool" but really, it's mostly Mali being Mali and having superpowers of observation and interpersonal perception. When the evaluator did an emotional mirroring test, looking inside a box and pretending to be scared of what was in the box, Mali leaned over and asked, "Are you okay?" The evaluator was shocked, and said no child had ever asked her that before.
She is one of the best things in my life right now.