We are what we say

Something I have learned from my daughter’s struggles with apraxia is the importance of words. Talk is cheap, they say…but not when every syllable is a struggle. Then, each word carries immeasurable weight. Of all the things she doesn’t say, these are the words she felt important enough to force through the veil rather than try to approximate them with pantomime or simply leave them unsaid.

What these words show me is that my daughter is a beautiful soul, full of love and goodwill.

Also fiercely independent, stubborn, and, well, three.

But it’s an amazing look inside a mind that has been such a mystery to me.

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//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Frequent topics of conversation include:

  • Family: What Mimi doing? What Poppy doing? What Daddy doing? What baby doing?
  • Pets she has encountered: What tiny puppy doing? What kitty doing?
  • Food and drink: chockie (chocolate milk) and cuppies (cupcakes) are favorite requests, as are ice water, cold tea, and cheese
  • Cherished belongings: tabby (her tablet), bows and balm (hair bows and lip balm…she’s a girly girl), boots, balls (she has enough to open a sports store)
  • Play: outside, game, hide eyes (hide and seek), my TT (she wants to watch her Netflix account on TV, not boring grown-up stuff)

Some of these words are clear as day. Others require an interpreter. For instance, my parents thought she was asking for “Dew” (Mountain Dew) the other day — not an unreasonable assumption, as it is her father’s favorite drink. But we don’t call it that in front of her; we call it soda. And while she likes it, it’s not her beverage of choice. What she was saying was “juice.” So even among those close to her, some interpretation is still required. Still, progress is being made.

One thing I find interesting is her grasp of and insistence upon adjectives. It’s not just enough to let us know she is going poopy — it’s important we know that it is a biiiiig poopy. She wants ice in her water (tiny ice — no big cubes, please), and prefers my peppermint tea once it’s gone cold. It’s not enough that the TV is on — she wants to watch her shows, not ours. She is not asking about any old puppy, but the yippy dog that lives two doors down.  This precision speaks to a strong desire for understanding. And for someone who not so long ago referred to every adult relative as “Dada,” it demonstrates massive steps forward in her verbal abilities.

Lately, I’ve noticed increased effort from her in crafting phrases and sentences. The ones she’s repeating from rote memory roll off her tongue with ease: “Hi, Mommy!” “Hi, baby!” “Where you going?” “What you doing?” And like most toddlers, there are the mangled misunderstandings: “Uppy-go” (for “Up you go”) is her way of asking to be picked up. But there are others — phrases and sentences that she has put together on her own. Slowly and carefully enunciated utterances that are pure Anya:

  • Not night! (Said with glee each and every weekend morning. Usually followed by an equally happy observation that I am awake: Eyes open!)
  • Big boobies! (I’m 36 weeks pregnant, so…yeah. Also Tiny boobies!, directed at her own chest.) 
  • I do! (She is, I believe I’ve mentioned, fiercely independent.)
  • She introduces herself and her family to everyone we meet: I Anya. (Holds up three fingers. Then points to me.) My mommy. (Points to my belly.) My baby.
  • Working to figure out gender differences: Mimi tights? Mommy tights? Anya tights? Poppy tights? Daddy tights? (My mother’s been wearing a lot of tights and skirts lately.)
  • Go Poppy’s house? (She would live with my parents if she could.)
  • Mommy work. Daddy work. Mimi work. Anya stay Poppy house. (Said at the end of my lunch hour, when she wants us to go away so she and Poppy can play.)
  • Whenever she is referred to by an endearment (Baby, Goosey Lucy, Love Bug, etc): No, I Anya. (Interestingly enough, she allows the nicknames her father and I use: Angel, Bear, Goofball)

And my absolute favorite, all the more so for the care and deliberation taken to make three halting words come out clearly: Love you, Mommy.

I waited so long to hear those words. It was worth every second.

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