Joy Finds a Way

There’s a scene in Jurassic Park in which Jeff Goldblum’s character (Ian Malcolm) explains why the entire project is flawed. There is no way, he says, to keep the dinosaurs contained and under control. No way to keep the dinosaurs from reproducing, even if they lack the chromosomes to do so.

“If there’s one thing the history of evolution has taught us, it’s that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, it expands to new territories, and crashes through barriers painfully, maybe even dangerously, but, uh, well, there it is. . . . Life finds a way.”

In 2018, the McConnells come to understand that Ian Malcolm is still correct.

Life indeed finds a way.

Like a salmon that swims up river and jumps the waterfalls, Joy (aka our little T. rex) found a way into our life.

Joy came into our house and transformed it into Joyassic Park. Joy’s clothes outnumber my clothes 10 to 1. On the way to the bathroom at 3 am, I click on the flashlight on my phone so that I don’t trip over the Fisher-Price penguin or the Elmo chair or the giraffe bike or the alligator pillow.

Although Joy’s vocabulary is limited, she finds ways to communicate. She uses a combination of sounds, sign language, singing, smiles, kisses, claps, dances, waves, shaking her head, and giving knowing looks.

6:15 am. It’s hop on pop time, with giggles. Joy then drops her toy on my bed. She kisses my forehead. (Translation: Good morning, Dad. Here, turn on Sloth.)

“Joy, can you get me a diaper?” I say. Joy heads for the dresser. She brings back one size 5 diaper.

I turn on Sloth and Hedgehog. I get a kiss from Joy. (Joy believes that the correct number of kisses for Mom and Dad is around 200 per day. I have no intention of telling her any different.)

I change Joy’s diaper. I dress Joy in shirt and shorts. Joy carries Sloth and Hedgehog to her table. They sing songs to Joy.

6:45-7:00 am. It’s hop on pop time again. This time with the sign for “eat.” Joy has me follow her to the gate. I get a kiss as I carry Joy downstairs.

Joy walks to the kitchen. She picks up the computer mouse from the kitchen table and clicks. She points to her high chair. Kiss.

I type in the password and hoist her into the high chair. Kisses. We watch some YouTube videos while I make some breakfast. I give Joy a glass of milk, juice, some mini wheats, grapes. The waffles are in the toaster.

We sing songs. We sign the songs. Kiss-kiss. High five.

I make coffee. Toast bagel.

We eat, sing, laugh. Before it gets too hot outside, I ask Joy if she wants a bike ride.

She smiles and heads to the backdoor.

As we enter Sanders Park, Joy vocalizes and claps. (Dad, I want to do the slide!)

We do a two-mile ride most mornings. We also do a ride in the evenings. Joy likes to walk through the grass at the park, hop on the manhole cover (I’m not sure why), walk over the wood bridge, and look down at the creek. If we pass anyone, Joy says “Hi” and waves.

Back at the house, Mom is making egg sandwiches or getting ready for Joy’s therapy. Mom takes care of Joy’s bath and brushing Joy’s hair. She puts Joy’s long hair in a ponytail. Then Mom puts on the orthotics and Joy’s socks and shoes.

Inside the house we have gates, doors with locks and chains and latches. The cabinets have safety locks. The high chair and stroller and car seat and wagon and bike trailer have seat belts. Like the velociraptors in Jurassic Park, Joy is systematically testing the gates and locks for weakness.

We are on high alert because our little T. rex needs to be contained.

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