To start things off, here are a couple of birthday related stories about Tate and Coral.
This week as Tate, Coral and I drove home from one of Coral’s therapy sessions, he told me, “I need to get Coral a birthday present.”
“Yeah, that sounds good. What do you want to get her?” I answered.
Tate quickly said, “Mom, I can’t say that now,” as he looked over at Coral.
“Oh, okay,” I replied.
I quietly laughed to myself. From everything I know about Coral, I can be pretty confident that the concept of birthdays and presents (and the receptive language for those words) is still beyond her scope of understanding. But Tate did not know that. Or maybe he did but still wanted to honor the “birthday code” of not talking about presents in front of the birthday girl. Either way, I love it.
About a minute later, unable to hold it in, Tate said, “I think I want to get her something with music.”
“That sounds perfect,” I commented.
It was the perfect gift idea. He knows Coral so well.
When the day of her very small family birthday party arrived, Tate came into Coral’s room dressed for the party.
He announced, “I’m wearing my Dup15q shirt because this is Coral’s special day and Dup15q is her special thing.”
I could have cried.
I spared Tate my emotions and instead said, “Wow, Tate. That was very thoughtful of you.”
Tate is a beautiful mixture of active, wrestling, jumping, unpredictable energy and pure, sweet, sensitive and thoughtful five-year-old boy.
He started talking the minute he left the womb; the pediatrician in the birth center honestly said, “You have a talker.” And he has never stopped talking. He spoke in complex sentences by his second birthday.
On Coral’s third birthday, I thought it would be fitting to share more about Coral through Tate’s eyes. Tate knows Coral as well as Tom and I.
After I explained what an interview is, Tate requested I interview him about his LEGOS. So, I will begin the interview with a couple of LEGO related questions.
Tate, if you could build any LEGO creation, what would it be? Why?
I would build a transformer because I want to.
If Coral could build any LEGO creation, what do you think it would be? Why?
Uhh, she would eat the LEGO. (Very true, Tate.)
What do you like to do with Coral?
I like to play with Coral the game she is doing. She just likes to do funny stuff. (Coral loves spinning around with her head back, while giggling uncontrollably.)
What makes you proud of Coral?
When she claps. (She has worked very hard on learning to do that and loves to do that now.)
I am proud of Coral when she walks, too.
Are there some things that you think are hard for Coral to do?
Yeah, walking. Because she needs a little more time to practice and do it. It’s a little hard for her to eat food with her spoon because she makes too big of a bite. Sometimes she spills half of the spoon.
I want to teach Coral how to talk.
How do you help Coral?
I help her if she drops a toy and she wants it. I give it back to her.
What are Coral’s favorite activities?
Humpty Dumpty! She likes to go high up on your (Mom’s) knees and then your knees go down. (When we sing “Humpty Dumpty,” Coral sits on my bent knees. When I say “had a great fall,” I straighten my knees and she drops down. I think she would do this all day.)
She loves “Doe A Deer”. She likes her giraffe music toy.
Is there anything you worry about for Coral?
I worry about Coral getting her IEP. Is that a shot?
(Wow, I sometimes forget how much Tate picks up on and listens to. This summer we have been doing a lot of assessments. Last week we finally had Coral’s first IEP meeting (Individualized Education Plan) because she will start preschool in 3 weeks through the school district. After he says this, I explain to Tate that an IEP is just Coral’s plan for school- where she will go, what we hope she learns, and how we will help her learn. I tell him that he doesn’t need to worry about this.)
I worry about Coral going to school because she might fall on the pavement her first day there. (Yes, that’s why she has a helmet and 1-on-1 aide.)
What is it like to be a big brother?
Uhh, it’s like milking a cow. It’s so hard. On your first try you mess up. It’s so hard to take care of baby sister. I learned how to do it.
(Tate has never milked a cow, so…? I do imagine it can be hard to be a big brother sometimes.)
If you could be an animal, what would you be? And Coral? Why?
A cougar because I want to be able to climb trees how good they do. I’m really stealthy and agile.
Coral would probably be a giraffe because she loves her toy giraffe. Maybe because she wants to eat leaves and have a really long neck.
What are some things Coral does really well?
Swimming! She does really good because she doesn’t drown. She puts her head under and blows bubbles.
What do you want people to know about Dup15q?
I want people to know that Coral has special needs with Dup15q. She also needs to learn really good. And Reid’s brother has Dup15q. Sawyer has Dup15q. She is learning how to talk.
Is there anything else you want people to know about your sister?
I love her.
I always joke with Tate and Coral by saying, “Okay today you are turning 3 years old, but after this there are no more birthdays.”
Tate is always quick to shout, “No! Coral is going to turn 4, 5, 6, 7, ….”
“What???” I reply with shock. Then, I pause.
As Tate comes up with his response, I say with a smile, “You’re right. I’m just kidding.”
And I am just kidding. Of course, I want Tate and Coral to grown and learn. But I do hope that Tate and Coral never lose the ability to be so present in the moment and so unapologetically authentic- free from the need to be any way except exactly as they are.
Thank you for sharing about your sister, Tate.
Happy 3rd Birthday, Coral! We love you!