I remember the day after Eli was born. The hospital arranged for us a consultation with a local surgeon. After evaluating Eli, he came in to tell us that Eli's cleft was too severe for him; Eli would need to go to Riley for repair. In that consultation he said, "It's just tissue. Eli will run, play baseball, and ride a bike just like other kids.". It had taken me 8 years, but I can finally say that he had no idea what he was talking about!
Do not get me wrong, we know without a doubt that we are blessed beyond measure, but we have learned that the clefts in Eli's lip and palate have caused more damage than can simply be solved with a few stitches or skin graphs. Eli's eyes, teeth, ears, speech, learning, and balance have also been affected. We believe that it is because of some of his eye and balance issues (and good old stubbornness) that he has been unable to learn to ride a bike.
Jason's parents-- Grammie and Granddaddy as they are known-- have recently retired. Since then, they have done so many fun things with Eli and Ruby. About a month ago, Granddaddy decided that he wanted to help Eli learn to ride his bike without training wheels. Much to our surprise, Eli was very excited about it (I guess because Granddaddy isn't mom or dad?). In two days, about an hour to an hour and a half each day, Eli was riding! After the first day he had me come outside and watch (and, being who I am, take pictures). I was nearly in tears watching Eli ride his bike with pride. He did it!
In the big scheme of things, a cleft is a fairly minor "special need" in children. I marvel at the women who mother children with diagnoses such as autism with grace and perseverance. I will say, though, even with Eli's needs, I have learned to find great joy in seemingly small successes-- things other children can do with much less effort. Last month, that moment was watching Eli ride a bike!