One of the things I love about having a toddler is seeing his imagination blossom. It's like I get to watch his world unfold as he makes new connections and tries new things. It's simply amazing to be a part of the process. The other day, after work, I realized that it had been quiet for a little too long, if you know what I mean. Immediately, I sought out the little mischief.
Working with children of all ages leads to some pretty interesting conversations. Today, while working with one of our kindergarten students, my fellow speech pathologist noted that he was missing a significant number of teeth - more than most kindergarten students, and the remaining chompers were cavity-ridden.
Concerned, she asked him, "Buddy, what happened to your teeth? Did they fall out or did someone pull them out?"
With the perfect innocence of a kindergartner, he said, that he wasn't sure. He was opening a jar of jelly and a tooth just fell out of his mouth (as if the act of opening a jar could cause a tooth to just fall out). My colleague said, "I'm just a little worried about what happened to all your teeth."
And then he said, with worry on his face, "I just don't know how many I have left!"
We've been laughing about that all afternoon. "I just don't know how many I have left!" This is just another reason I love my job!
So, it's been a while. Sorry to all 3 of my readers who have been waiting expectantly. Let's just say that I lacked the mental and emotional fortitude to even think some days. Much better now. I seem to have found my gumption in one of those boxes that I'm still trying to unpack.
I've decided today that I only have one real need this school year. I have a full time CFY, so I'm good in the help department. I have an office that has a few more supplies and is slightly more organized than last year. All I need now is a good pair of extendable ears.
I know they look a bit disgusting, but they would be the perfect addition to a speech pathologist's bag of tricks!
I have so listen to and observe so many children, and they always know when I'm there to see them. And that makes them nervous (because, let's face it, knowing that you're being watched makes anyone nervous!). And then I'm not really observing a naturalistic context.
Brent, if you're listening, I want a set for Christmas. Thanks!
1. If nothing else, having some time to just be 'mom' this summer, has made me realize how precious this time is. I love getting to see the ins and outs of my darling boy's day. I love the way he loves to read, to sing (complete with . . . piano . . . accompaniment?) - the way he's learning a new word daily (usually 3-4), the way he giggles, the way he knows who his favorite people are, the way he dances, the way he jumps, the way he has moments of pure sweetness.
Just today, I was sitting on the couch after working at the hospital. He climbed up, and say "ees" which translates to "squeeze" and proceeded to give me a big hug. Then he snuggled his way down between me and the couch and just laid with his head on my arm, like we were the best of pals.
Tonight, as we were driving home from Brent's mom's house, Bruce was babbling in the back. All of a sudden I heard him say, "Happy, blsi bla sgli, meow meow, li bifel pomef, 'du'(meaning 'juice') sdljlj weml 'Ene' (meaning Jene)." A loose transcription - forgive the gibberish in between. I marveled at the way he was trying to tell me that he was happy, and then proceeded to tell me why he was happy. (Jene is Brent's mom's husband, and he's one of Bruce's absolute most favorite people on the earth). It was a moment of connection for me and my boy. He has such a sweet, happy personality.
2. Jene has graciously been helping us with our challenges of late. Basically, we're having car trouble. Not major, but enough that we probably shouldn't drive the thing until it's fixed. It's due for a tune-up anyway (much to my husband's denial). For the past few days, I've been pondering the wisdom of Jene. He said, off-handedly, that when you're facing a problem with the car, it's always smart to pursue the easiest solution first.
I think this little gem is a life lesson that I need to ponder more deeply. I think, far too often, when faced with a problem, I look at every possible solution, and I'm usually guilty of trying the difficult ones first. What a waste of energy! This is definitely something I'm going to have to work on.
3. Speaking of pondering, I've had several interesting experiences lately to remind me of the value of taking time to be still. Brent graduated a couple of weeks ago (Huzzah! [pictures to come as soon as I find that camera charger . . . ]), and the commencement speaker mentioned specifically the importance of taking time to be quiet. To be free of distraction. I know that, for myself, when I spend even ten minutes quietly contemplating, I always feel more centered and focused. Ten minutes. I do even better with longer. That's one reason I love to journal. It's a time for me to stop, and ponder, and feel, and breathe.
I'm concerned that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to make the time and mental space to do this. There are plenty of things to distract us. Both external and internal. I've been interested to see self-help books all over about being 'mindful' or 'fully present.' The biggest way for me to do this is to un-plug. To turn off the television, to close my laptop, to put my phone on silent and just focus on what is right in front of me - be that my garden, my projects, my son, my patients/students, my husband, my friend, my sister, my mother, my father, my brother, my neighbor, or even myself. Technology is amazing! There is so much we are enabled to do because of what we have at our fingertips. But if we can't be away from it for more than an hour, then it's an addiction. And addictions limit our capacity. Addictions bind us in chains that grow thicker the more we feed them. (Audrey II, anyone?)
All I know is, if we don't engage with our lives, we miss out - on the chance to learn, to form friendships and bonds that last longer than the time you spend perusing Facebook. I see it all the time in my line of work. As a Speech Pathologist, especially one who works with children with autism, I constantly aim to connect with my students. To teach them how to connect with another human being. Some people have to work so hard to gain a basic skill that is intrinsic in others. Others who too often let that skill lie dormant, unused, under-developed.
But engagement benefits all of my students, not just those with autism. If a student becomes an active participant in their treatment, they improve faster. When we become active participants in our lives, we are able to grow and become more than we ever could passively sitting on the sidelines. "Your life is an occasion: Rise to it!"
I suppose the simplest solution is to consciously make time every day to be still. To ponder. To commune. To connect to another human being - spirit to spirit, not across wires. Make time to rise to the occasion that is your life. I know, for me, the more I consciously make time to be still, the easier it becomes. Like all things, I have to plan for it, or it is far less likely to happen. I'm sure there will be more to come on this topic as I study it out, but in the meantime, thank you for being patient with my ramblings.
Strive for her son to seize my careless heart; When, like a cloud, he sits upon the air, Preparing on his spell-bound prey to dart: Chase him away, sweet Hope, with visage bright, And fright him as the morning frightens night!
-"To Hope" by John Keats
I had a wonderful conversation with a dear friend this weekend, a friend who is currently struggling with infertility. This wonderful woman is someone exemplifies what it is to have a 'mother heart.' Sadly, someone who is so qualified for the job, must wait.
As we spoke, she talked of dealing with the Disappointment that can lead to Despair. They were at a great place in their marriage, they had a new house that was bereft of the little feet for which it was bought. She had prepared. The time was right. And yet it wasn't. That was a bitter time for her. I could feel the ache in her words. And my heart pondered that bleak plain. I know that I cannot adequately understand her pain - we have been blessed with such a happy little boy without the trial of waiting that many couples face.
She told me that she knows that she and her husband will have the opportunity to be parents. She even said that she knows that she will have the opportunity to be pregnant. She has faith that these blessings will happen for her and her husband. But, I was struck once again how we may have knowledge of certain things, or have faith that all will work out, but we still must bear the trial. Some call it "enduring to the end" - a nice phrase until you're in the middle of an unbearable trial. Even with faith, we can find ourselves giving in to despair (the parent of disappointment) if we do not hope.
Hope has the power to fill our lives with happiness.Its absence—when this desire of our heart is delayed—can make “the heart sick.”
I may not understand her trial exactly, but I understand what it is to feel heartsick. I understand the bleakness that is despair. In listening to her, and supporting her, sister to sister, I could feel hope swelling in me, as I hope it did in her. When hope does take root, the weight of despair is lessened. I think "hope is sure, unwavering, and active." We spoke of her plans, her action, to combat and cope with her disappointment and sorrow, many of which involved serving those within her sphere of influence.
Once again, I was reminded that hope is what carries us through. Hope is the bulwark that protects our spirits from sorrow and despair. Hope helps us keep proper perspective. And, I also learned again that we need each other in order to fully hope. We need to be able to share what we know, to express what we hope for, and to express wherein we place our hope. And sometimes we need to rely on the strength of others to help us through those bleak experiences (easy to say when you're not in the middle of it, I know, but if I say it aloud, maybe I'll remember it when it's my turn to need strengthening).