“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.” ― Charles Dickens
Talking. At Mia’s last IFSP meeting, the social worker asked if Mia was talking yet. I sort of sat there for a moment in silence. Yes, she does have a few words – dada, book, bubbles, all done, yes, no, hi, and she does sign milk, more, shoes, and help, but is she “talking?”
Some of you probably know that Fynn was a late talker. Really late. Like so late that he had to have speech therapy and then occupational therapy once we realized that his late talking might have more to do with a different problem than his not understanding how to talk.
It was hard. I think that many people didn’t really realize how hard it was when Fynn wasn’t talking. It’s heartbreaking to watch a child desperate to communicate with you melt down into temper tantrums because he isn’t being understood. You wait for that magical moment when you know what they are thinking and it never comes. I imagined friends and strangers attributing his temper tantrums to my own bad parenting. Sometimes people would suggest talking to him or giving him choices, and I sort of laughed sardonically on the inside. Talk to him. That’s all I wanted to do.
But instead I felt like I was talking at him and getting nothing in return. I often described it as living inside of a Beckett play. For my non-Lit friends, he’s an absurdest writer, and in his work one character might say something to another and the other character might respond with a complete non-sequitur. That was my life. We weren’t communicating with each other.
Ultimately, we settled into a sensory processing disorder diagnosis, got him the help he needed and the rest is history. I believe I even uttered, “He never stops talking,” to Nate at least once this week.
“Is she talking yet?” Having been down this path once before, I said shakily, “She’s not really talking, but she’s communicating. I appreciate the difference now.” Mia may not be speaking English, but Mia is communicating in so many ways.
Mia communicates love with a kiss and a hug. She shows her love for her brother by patting his hair and watching his bed in the morning, so she can wave to him when he wakes up. Mia asks me to read her a book by handing it to me and then raising her arms so I scoop her into my lap. Mia shows me how she wants me to play with her by demonstrating first. Mia communicates her hunger by pushing the chair back from the table. She shows me which song she wants to sing by doing the arm movements. She even tells her therapists she’s done with therapy by escorting them to the door and waving bye bye (although she does it after only 15 minutes). Mia plays pretend with her toys. Her dolls “talk” to each other through her sweet babbling.
Mia doesn’t talk, but Mia is a master communicator. Her temper tantrums are fewer because I decided to understand her instead of making her understand me. Although, lately I’ve been hoping to frustrate her just a bit by pretending I don’t understand, hoping to get her to speak just a few words. She’s on to me now so she just tries a different tactic, which usually includes a big hug. She knows how to make me do exactly what she wants.
So does Mia talk? No, not yet, but I know she will. For now we can speak her language.
In the meantime, the little thoughts inside her head are a mystery to me. I suppose she can keep her secrets for now. I know she’ll tell me someday.