A few weeks ago, I was strapping Geoffrey into his car seat when I realized Jo Jo was no longer standing in the minivan next to me.
“Jo Jo?” I asked, looking around the driveway wildly.
Then I saw her, sitting in her car seat beaming at me with a wide Cheshire-like grin, shoulder straps pressed solidly against her arms.
“How’d you get in there?” I asked, confused. I didn’t remember placing her there, but it was completely possible that in typical mommy brain mode, I’d done it automatically. Then Teddy started screaming that he wanted me to buckle him up, and I promptly forgot about it.
But on the way home from the park, the same thing happened again. Teddy climbed into the car, Jo Jo stepped in with a big boost from me, and while I was buckling Geoffrey up I noticed Jo Jo in her seat, beaming at me again.
“Whoa,” I said. “I know I didn’t put you there this time.”
She started giggling, obviously pleased with herself.
The next day, I watched her out of the corner of my eye while strapping in Geoffrey. There’s a small ledge on the back of his seat, directly in front of hers, and she’d figured out that if she just pressed down on it she could hoist herself straight in. “Yay!” she said happily as she snaked her arms through her shoulder straps. Then she caught me looking at her and grinned that Cheshire grin again.
It’s one of those things that’s no big deal when you’re the parent of a typical kid—Teddy’s been independently getting in and out of his car seat for quite some time now. But I’d just assumed that Jo Jo, with her low muscle tone and poor coordination, would require my help for at least the next couple years.
But here she was, surveying the view from her crumb stained car seat like a princess gazing over her fiefdom. She was clearly light years ahead of Teddy, who was grunting and squealing as he tried to scramble up into his seat. “Momma, help you, help you!” he wailed and Jo Jo looked at him with a look that could only be described as pure pity. Clearly her younger brother didn’t have the sophistication and poise to gracefully slide into his seat.
But that’s the thing about Jo Jo—just when you think you’re figured her current stage of development out, she goes and blows you away by effortlessly achieving some milestone you just assumed would be way beyond her.
I hope she takes pity on me, her poor clueless mother, who so clearly does not know how much her own daughter is capable of.
And I hope she continues to blow me away by showing me every now and then what she’s oh-so-capable of.