These are letters to Jack, my son, and my daughter, Audrey. You have given me the gift of motherhood. This is just a little gift back. I want to share my experiences with you of your childhood from my perspective of watching you grow - of being your Mom.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
You’ll discover over the course of your life that language is really only part of the way that we speak to each other. Body language and gestures, expressions and grunts, etc, all are very good ways of also getting messages across.
This is never more apparent than with the pre-language toddler. You are right at that age where you aren’t yet talking, but you clearly are understanding and frustrated because you can’t formulate the words yet to tell us what it is you want and need. The thing that I am impressed by is how well you communicate. No – I’m not going crazy. Maybe you aren’t yet verbal, but there is never any doubt as to what it is you are wanting.
When you are focused on getting something – whether that be crackers in the top cabinet, or the movies up high on the book shelf, you grunt loudly with a purposeful UHHH! And jab a very pointed finger as far as it can reach in the clear direction of the object that you want. Your eyes become very large in your effort to direct our attention to the object of your desire so that it can be given to you and your lips reveal your new teeth in an expression that warns – I’m not fussing yet, but you better take heed!
In an effort to help you with speech, I will walk over to the object and put my hand on it and then say: “crackers. Say ‘crackers’, Jack”. This usually makes you call out even louder “UGGGHHHHHH! UGHHHHHHH! UGHHHHHH!” as my proximity to the object is so close and you are trying desperately to tell me “YES!! THAT’S IT!!!! THAT’S WHAT I WANT!”
This goes both ways – this interpretation of body language. You, apparently, have become incredibly adept at reading my body language that I usually am not even aware of until I see you reacting to my thoughts and – short of determining that you must have some sort of jedi mind powers – I realize that I must be giving some body language cues to my thought processes.
Point in question: out for an evening stroll.
You love the outdoors and would probably be quite content to walk until you collapsed and then just sleep where you lay until the morning when the journey would continue in the same fashion.
As I become tired along the way, I must begin to slow down prior to turning around. You notice this change in pace of mine even before I’m aware that I’ve made up my mind that we’ve reached the end of our journey.
Out of nowhere, your eyes become big as saucers and turn around to watch me as your feet take on a “Scooby Doo” life of their own propelling you forward faster and faster.
The danger in this action is very apparent. You aren’t looking where you are going and this means that almost all of our walks end in some sort of disaster. Running into parked cars, falling over curbs, tripping over your own feet and scraping little knees and elbows on the gravel…
I can’t ever seem to get to you before this happens.
So, I’ve decided that the only way to avoid this is to convince you that YOU want to do what I want you to do.
In order to do this, I need to make something in that opposite direction seem incredibly attractive to you. I will point out the doggy in the yard across the street back in the direction of home or a motorcycle parked in someone’s driveway that we missed before.
You hesitate….. you stand in an indecisive fashion with one leg already extended in the opposite direction ready to flee in case I suddenly stop showing you something and tell you to come with me. Sometimes you will make a half hearted jog for a couple of feet turning around to see if that has set me to chasing you. If it hasn’t and I’m continuing to show you the object of interest, you stop again. You consider the alternatives. Sometimes, you will come to me and we’ll investigate the item, but sometimes you decide that I’m up to something and you take off anyways.
Hey, I never said I had the perfect solution! So – if you discover when you have your little guy or girl – what the trick is? Share it with me! But in the meantime, our communication has never been better!