Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lesson #12: Content with the uh ohs

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Children are wonderful at being in the moment. They are naturals at mindfulness. When they play they are fully engaged and they let the real world slip away preferring instead to become intent observers of make believe. They aren't worried about running that errand, paying that bill, doing that assignment, or making that appointment on time because for that precious increment of time their priority is focusing on that singular moment and nothing else. I'm not sure when this slips away from us and when we simply decide that being present is no longer a worthwhile endeavor but its something I have personally struggled with for some time. I tend, like others, to project out and think ahead. I like to map things out and predict what the next task to complete is. While this can be a beneficial trait it can also be the undoing of quiet moments I should be enjoying. How do I learn to enjoy this moment instead of worrying about the next? Why do I shatter the calm of this moment in the hopes that I can change the outcome of the next? Why do I become so disenchanted with the newest accomplishments or successes and press on for more and more?

We find ourselves in a society where we should be constantly evolving. Ideally we are all learning, advancing, absorbing, expanding. We can get sort of obsessed with that notion. You should be smarter by now, you should be achieving more. This ever constant buzz that hums about your ears has a consistent message. "Don't be content with what you have." This is such a dangerous mentality and one I have been far too guilty of listening to. If you are also a parent you know all to well that this desire to better ourselves can all too easily translate into pushing our kids to learn more and more. You find yourself trying to teach your kid how to count in different languages, or do fractions before they are ready, not because they are interested in it, but because they should be doing it. I certainly don't mean to suggest that we shouldn't be teaching our children, of course we should, I just mean that as a parent there is this insane pressure to make sure our children know enough, are exposed enough, are cultured enough, are polite enough etc. They should be pushing for more. So we push, we struggle, and we strike on. But what would happen if we all just gave each other permission to tread water? What if we just sat back for a moment and breathed into those moments of success? What would be different about your life, my life, if we just lived in the most successful parts of our day? I would probably be a lot less cranky.

 This topic has been spinning around my head for awhile. Wes, who will be three in January has and is struggling with a significant speech delay. It took a year of weekly speech therapy for us to get to the point where he could say, "pa, ma, ha, ah" back to back. We aren't even at the point in therapy of speaking actual words. A year of hard fought syllables. For months he struggled to switch from one consonant sound to the next and for many sessions we just had to work on the letter we started with. For instance if we started out by asking him to say, "Ha," he could only successfully say syllables with the H sound. We have just now rounded the bend of being able to switch, with some ease, in between consonant sounds and we are noticing a definitive increase in his ability to spontaneously use words without us having to prompt him. He can now say, "wa," for water, ""Mmmm" for milk, "ca" for car and "bye" for goodbye,  and his favorite and perhaps most used, "uh-oh" for pretty much everything else that goes wrong.

But as good as those words are, there are so many more that he needs to convey the complex things he is thinking and feeling. I can't help but feel he is locked in a room with no way to get out. I want nothing more than to hear I love you, to hear what he wants from Santa, or to hear about his good and bad dreams. I want to hear him babble, I want him to tell me what he wants, what he's scared of, what he needs, what angers him or makes him laugh. I want these things so much it hurts. But perhaps the real problem is that I want those things for him so much that I am in danger of missing the special moments that are now. What I would have given last year to hear him utter anything let alone use signs and now I take these things for granted and push on wanting more and more. What if I gave the Uh ohs space in our life and gave them the celebration they deserve. What if, just for today, I decided to be content with the speech Wes does have and set the worries aside for another day. I want to tell you all to do it because miraculous things might start happening. For instance a little boy might grab your face while loading him into the car and point at the moon. You then might say, "yes thats the moon! Mooooooooonnnnnn. Can you say Mmmmmooooo?" The little boy might then make the sign for eat and point emphatically at the moon. "You want to eat the moon?" you might respond. The same little boy might shake his head and then point at the moon, make the sign for eat, and then the sign for toast. "The moon is hungry and wants to eat toast?!" That same little boy will shake his head vigorously up and down and "Mhhmm." as you get him buckled in. He will then grab your face softly with both of his little hands and make the sign for thank you. He's not thanking you for buckling him in, but for understanding him and what he is saying. You might then let a little tear slip down your face as you slowly back out of the driveway and give thanks for the little uh ohs you have previously been so dismissive to.

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