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She Reminds Me

March 29, 2013

“Silence is the language of God,
all else is poor translation.”
― Rumi

I have a confession. I tell everyone who works with Mary to presume competence. “She can understand you, she just won’t talk back to you. Be careful what you say around her – she can hear and understand – especially be careful with talk of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc.”. And even though I tell this to everyone else who works with her, I still have caught myself in the trap of underestimating her. She called me on it yesterday.

Mary doesn’t speak. She has three clumsy little signs (more, food, and finished). The signs are sporadic and rare at best. She uses her ipad to talk to us, but even that is very limited. Still, she manages to get what she wants. If we don’t figure it out fast enough, she’ll just help herself. She’s extremely smart. She’s a problem solver. She figures it out. (and she knows where we keep the bananas- her very favorite food 😉 . )

But yesterday I underestimated her understanding of a situation. We were at the home inspection for the new house we are buying. It is the longest amount of time we have spent there. We’ve been talking about the move with her brother and sister, preparing them for the transition. All the while, Mary has been listening. Quietly taking it all in. I wasn’t too sure how much a three year old could understand of this. It seemed such an abstract concept.

She seemed quite comfortable in her new living room, rolling around on the floor, exploring the kitchen, racing through the dining room. I carried her up the stairs and we watched while her brother and sister picked out their new rooms. I was still unsure if she understood what they were doing, or why we were even here.

Joyce quickly chose her room – the one with the walk-in closet, perfect for storing princess gowns. Troy was leaning towards the one with the extra crawl spaces with miniature doors that looked to him like some serious fort potential.

As Troy and I were standing in the last, as of yet, unclaimed room, he was still trying to decide. Holding Mary in my arms, I explained to him that it was his decision. I’d let Mary decide, but I didn’t really think she could choose something like that for herself. As the words escaped my lips, Mary wriggled out of my arms and walked purposefully over to the bed in the unclaimed room. She put her forehead to the bed in a typical Mary-style head hug, complete with wiggle dance. Troy smiled and looked up at me. “Mumum, I think she just did.”

She doesn’t speak. She barely signs. But her language is intact. We are the ones who are lacking in understanding. But she is patient with me, and she silently reminds me each day that I still have so much to learn.

The home inspection went great. And all three of my children chose their own rooms. It’s going to be an amazing summer.


5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 29, 2013 5:15 pm

    Mary is awesome! I’m glad she chose and I absolutely adore this story. Thank you for sharing a powerful reminder. xo

    • March 29, 2013 7:57 pm

      Thanks! I needed the reminder myself. 😉 she’s going to love her new room!

  2. March 30, 2013 7:43 pm

    She speaks like my boy speaks 🙂 They don’t miss a trick, these kids, and have memories like steel traps! She sounds like an amazing, awesome little girl. I always say the same thing you do: assume competence; speak to him – not to me, I just translate. Oh, and J right now just uses his iPad for Fruit Ninja if I am not right there telling him no. 😉

    • March 30, 2013 8:25 pm

      Fruit Ninja… That sounds like a fun game, I’ll have to look it up. 🙂 Mary uses a program called TapSpeak Choice and it works well for her, but she is not ye to the point of navigating through the page sets herself, so it’s still a guessing game in terms of asking her the right questions and offering her the right choices… She’s been using it for about a year and a half now… We’ll get there. 🙂 I hope your little guy is feeling better today. Happy Easter.

      • March 31, 2013 3:01 pm

        Fruit Ninja is a lot of silly fun, just a lot of slicing fruit. J thinks the goal is to slice the bombs which is the opposite of true but hey, all in good fun. I will look up TapSpeak Choice. I downloaded a few apps to bring to speech with him – one is a first, then app which is where we’re going to start with him in terms of picture communication as it makes no sense to him yet.

        He is feeling better, finally! Thank you and happy Easter to you and yours. 🙂

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