Friday, August 6, 2010

If Only I Could Read Minds

While I am BlogHer, I am re-posting some old favorites. This was originally posted on October 12th, 2009. I will be back on August 10th with new content.

Yesterday I finished up my weekend read Petite Anglaise by the writer of the blog Petit Anglaise (which I was kind of glad I had not read, I might have not been as enthralled by the book). A lot of what she wrote about touched a nerve in me about my own identity crises and relationships worries post kids. But it is the recollections of her daughter that stick with me.

It really touched a chord with me, the frequent references to conversations with her daughter, who in the book is the same age of the girls. The recordings of the utterances that, literally, could only come from the mouth of a child. The funny little back and forth exchanges they had. I envy that so much.

As I look up from writing, I watch my daughter lay out napkins (old cloth wipes that the girls now use for pretend) out in a pattern on the floor, I wish I could see into her head. For me, it is the hardest part of their delays... the loss of their voices.

With Desmonda it is as if I am listening to a language I am only starting to master. Her muttered sentences are full of words that I can't quite understand. Often I get the gist of what she is saying but sometimes one indistinguishable word is enough for me to not be able to translate. I hate telling her hopeful, expectant face "Sorry, honey, I don't know what you want". Communication is so close with her but feels so far away.

With Calamity Jane, I am left to just wonder. Her few words are utilized for only her most basic needs and often only understandable to us. The words all are shouted at us in the same insistent, angry tone. I cried the first time she called out Mommy to me in excitement when I walked in the door. Here was proof I could hold onto that she could communicate, that she wanted to. All along her babbles have been full of expression and variation, rising and falling as she talks in her Janespeak. There is always so much going on in her head but we are not privy to any of it.

Often when I observe their play, I imagine their thoughts for them. Sometimes I unconsciously speak them out loud. Occasionally they will riff on what I am saying, allowing me into their world, but often they just look at me, befuddled. They have no idea what I am talking about. And I have no idea what is going with them.

It feels wrong that I am missing out on their thoughts. This is a unique time when they are completely unselfconscious. Their thoughts are unfettered by the limits of reality and the judgments of others. It is radical honestly in its most pure form.

When they do start communicating it will be precious to me whether it is next week or next year. The words will be no less sweeter and I know I will treasure each one. Until they drive me crazy with too much talking. But I think a small part of me will always mourn all that I have missed.

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