I connect the zipper together and pull it up slightly. Tiny little fingers expertly grasp the handle and pull the zipper up to a chubby toddler neck. E-Dude's face lights up in ecstatic joy. His mouth open wide in surprise, eyes big and round. His sense of accomplishment.
"YAY! You did it!, Look how smart you are!"
E-Dude was our donor twin in our brush with twin to twin transfusion syndrome. He had marginal cord insertion, was smaller at birth (and remains so), had the longer NICU stay, came home on oxygen, and took steroids that could potentially stunt his growth. Strong little fighter who has come so far.
With the exception of rolling over, E-Dude has been behind G-Man in meeting milestones. Crawling, walking, talking, motor skills; all of them about 3-4 weeks behind his brother. He studies, watches, contemplates, and does on his own time.
Then there was the zipper on his jacket. He was fascinated with the motion of it, loved how it moved up and down to keep his jacket on. He tried so hard to grasp it and work the motion, but his little fingers could not make the zipper move. Mommy hands over his little ones, guided him through the motion every morning and every afternoon. Our own little game.
And he would practice on his own. Taking his jacket down from its place, he would sit on the floor and play with the zipper. Studying, playing, over and over. He couldn't connect the two sides, but he started to use his fine motor skills to manipulate the zipper like an expert.
Days of practice. Zip up. Zip down.
Then one morning, I connected the zipper, and my little E-Dude pulled the zipper up on his own. The whole time saying "Help please, help please!" as I assured him he could do it on by himself. And it happened. A full zip up, and a half zip back down for good measure.
Victory. Sweet, simple victory.
He doesn't know this is the first skill he accomplished before his brother. He just knows he did it. By himself. He is happy, he is proud, he is excited.
And Mom? I watch his triumph with pure joy.