Mia, Ellie, and the Lacing Animals

On Sunday, Mia (almost 4) and her friend Ellie (almost 5) were playing while Zoe and Ellie’s big brother were in Hebrew School. I carry around a bag of toys for such occasions that includes crayons and coloring books and also developmental toys that require two hands, like the lacing animals featured in this video clip below.

Notice that both girls, Ellie (left) and Mia (right) are initially working on lacing. Ellie switches hands repeatedly, handing the lace from one hand to the other. Mia is holding her string in her left hand. She’s left handed. Mia’s stroke was in the left side of her brain, impacting the right side of her body. She started to show left-hand dominance when reaching for toys as an infant. Typically, handedness does not develop until much later.

Mia then gets interested in her buckle on her shoe. It’s the first day she is wearing these sandals, discovered in the switchover to warm-weather clothes. She continues to hold her animal in her right hand while she tries to manipulate the buckle with her left hand only. When Ellie shows the long string, Mia spontaneously points with her right hand and arm. And, after that, she does bring her right hand to help manipulate the buckle.

This is just a tiny vignette of one minute from one of Mia’s days but I notice stuff like this all the time. I think of it as a sort of constant state of awareness about how much Mia is spontaneously bringing her whole self into action for any given task. I try to create conditions that invite her to do this as often as possible without it being part of her conscious awareness. Fundamentally two-handed toys help. Bike riding definitely helps. And, tricky aspects of clothing and shoes like zippers, snaps, buttons, and buckles really are easier to make work if you can bring two hands to the task.

We went to the playground this evening and Mia proudly showed me her new skills on the monkey bars. She can reach one hand to the first bar and the other hand the second bar. With some help she can reach repeatedly. She has callouses on her hands from practicing at preschool. This too is a highly motivating two-handed activity that I fully expect her to master in time.

May is pediatric stroke awareness month and I am sharing tidbits learned while parenting Mia, who had a stroke around the time of her birth, almost 4 years ago.