Brought to You By Language Acquisition

I've been fighting some pesky depression and anxiety, hence the silence. The first thing to go are my words. I stop writing, stop blogging, stop feeling like I can articulate to Sam or anyone else what's wrong or what I think, even about the smallest things. It's a terrible, miserable way for me to live. The good news is, I got asked to teach this amazing talk at church just before things got really lousy. Having those words in my head as I entered the lowlands was a gift.

But I don't really want to say more about it. I want to talk about Henrietta, of course, who is by far my favorite creature on the planet and becomes more so daily. And while I've grown sort of silent and strange, my girl is gaining new words every day, and figuring out what they mean, and figuring out what she wants, and learning how to ask for it. It's been an absolute miracle to witness. I think I knew I would like this part--this language acquisition part. But I wasn't quite prepared for how much I would love it. When she does the sign for "baby" and says "Bay! Bee!" I usually have to will myself not to weep.

Because here is this little human I made. And when she first arrived she couldn't tell me what she needed. She could only cry. She could only cry and cry, and I could only guess what was wrong and fix it as best I could. And I got pretty good at guessing, but it was still guessing. And now, when suddenly she can tell me what she wants more of, or she can go to the pantry and open the door and pull out what she'd like to eat, my word, it's magical. I know those things seem small, but they are revolutionary when you've been trying to field a constant stream of mute longing for over a year.

And this morning, this morning we had such a sweet forty-five minutes together, maybe the most perfect forty-five minutes of my life. And I knew I needed to get up and write it out, that I would really be sorry if I didn't record it.

They were simple minutes. She woke up crying a little after five, and Sam prepped her a bottle and I went in to help her. She was standing at the corner of her crib when I came in, and I picked her up, and rocked her while she gulped down the bottle. Her eyes were sort of half-closed while she did it, so I assumed we'd all go back to sleep soon enough and I was not sorry about this. But then she took the bottle out, and started making her sounds, her words, the ones she seems to know but I don't yet, and I said, "Yes, yes, I think you're right about that."

She began to point at the big basket full of books we keep by the rocking chair, pointing and pointing, and this meant she wanted me to read one, and I find her interest in books deeply thrilling, so I picked one up and asked if she wanted me to read it, but it was obviously the wrong one, so she fussed and kept pointing. I let her down to pick her own, which it also amazes me she can do.

We read Little Fur Family. I love Little Fur Family. Do you know it? "There was a little fur family, warm as toast," is how it begins. And we particularly love it because the fur child has a small red ball on most pages, and we know the word "ball," and we really really love pointing to the book and saying "Ball!" every time we see the little red ball. In fact, when we reach pages that don't showcase the little red ball, we simply must go back and look at the other pages where it is showcased.

When that was over, we read it again. And then we read Moo, Baa, La La La! several times. And then I pointed to her changing table and asked if we might change her pants, and she pointed as to say, yes, we really ought. And then I pointed to her crib and asked if she might want to go back to sleep for a bit. And she pointed as to say, yes, yes, I'd like that. And I held her for a moment and rocked her, and told her I was going to give her a kiss before she went back to bed because I loved her very much and I would miss her while she slept. And she picked her head up off of my chest and gave me a kiss, a kiss with her pacifier in her mouth, but still, a kiss. What a word to know--kiss. And I held her some more, and then I set her down and tucked a quilt around her, and told her thank you, thank you, my sweet and darling girl. Thank you for coming to be my friend.


belann said…
You won't be sorry you recorded this treasure. We take so much of the miracle of raising children to be articulate beings for granted.
Terry said…
This process is truly miraculous. I am proud of your sensitivity to this subtle communication. Many would miss it.

--That bodes well for when she turns 14 and will no longer talk or point. Then you learn a new language. Note: hugs and kisses will still mean the same.
Rachel Goldberg said…
So beautiful, Deja. It really is amazing, watching a baby becomnig conscious, becoming a person. As for depression and anxiety, you are not alone. I hope it ebbs quickly, and that you hold tight to the knowledge that you are a wonderful person and a wonderful mother who deserves every happiness. Hugs from Boston.
so nice to read your writing and hear about your sweet girl. I've thought that too, about possibly experiencing the most wonderful 45 minutes of your life. It's amazing that they keep happening again and again. Does Henrietta have a copy of The Lost Party? Can I send her one?
Sigh. I love you my dear, sweet articulate friend. I love your words they delight Me and echo fellings in my heart. I love that your talents are being passed on to sweet Henrietta and that her words can fill others souls as yours do. Hugs and a prayer that the "sad bugs," as we call depresson at our house, will leave you be soon.
Amara said…
Lovely. I was feeling a bit fragile myself and needed to read about this friendship. Things like this scene validate my mantra I use when I'm trying to talk myself around. It's ok. You're ok. It's going to be ok.
Annie said…
I so admire the sweet relationship and admiration you have for your HP. It is easy to let the sadness swallow any ability to see joy. Thank you for sharing this sweetness.
She is so very sweet! I loved that talk.
Oh, do you have "Press Here" by Herve Tullet? Most magical picture book ever.

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