Have you ever been to a card shop but you just can’t find the right card? When it’s not a simple ‘happy birthday’ or ‘merry Christmas’ moment or perhaps even a crisis or bereavement. When you read the words on the cards but none of them seem to convey what you want to say. I guess that is why there is a market for blank cards. But then sometimes you just can’t think what to write yourself. Sometimes words just won’t come. If you could only just see the person and give them a hug. Then you could show them you care when the words won’t come.
If this is how I feel as an adult at times when I have a vocabulary of thousands of words at my disposal and an understanding of language that allows me to use those words to convey meaning, thoughs and emotions, it is no wonder children with limited language and understanding find putting things into words so hard at times.
My children are almost 5. My daughter has good understanding of spoken and written language for her age and communicates well at home. But there are times when her words just won’t work. When her anxieties take over and she is unable to communicate. Outside of home, without mum and dad for support she can find it crippling to use spoken language to communicate. I am a fluent communicator and able speaker but everyone can feel that anxiety at times and struggle to get the right words. Under pressure, with a camera filming you, faced with hundreds or thousands of eyes upon you, sitting close by someone you have strong feelings for but have never yet mentioned to them, in court having to answer questions in quick fire, meeting a stranger for the first time, and many other situations beside.
For Naomi we had a situation a few months ago when she came home on the nursery bus with tears sitting behind her eyes just waiting to fall down her cheeks and onto her clothes. Even with her language skills she was unable to tell us what had happened. So I held her, looked into her eyes and slowly said ‘show mummy’. So she went straight to her nursery bag and brought out her diary. In it was a card to say she had had her teeth polished at nursery that day. For two hours she had detested the taste of the polish in her mouth to the point she had felt sick. She didn’t spit the clumps out as she knows spitting isn’t nice. She had a drink, we got out all those horrid tasting clumps of polish and we shared a cuddle. She showed mummy the problem when her words would not come. And I was able to put it right and comfort her and show her all was well without using many words too. A hug and a smile go deeper than words ever can.
Isaac can’t speak. Now and again, mostly when very upset, we will hear the occassional ‘mum’. We have tried, speech therpists have tried and many other professionals have tried. But so far the words won’t come. So he shows me.
He shows me he is hungry by going to the cupboard and getting a plate:
He shows me he wants more by outstretching his arms:
He shows me he likes something by touching it:
He shows me he loves me..even when the words won’t come.
I tell my children all the time I love them. But I also show them. I tell my husband I love him everyday too. But I also show him. And he shows and tells me too. This week marks our 15th wedding anniversary. Long before the wedding, long before we ever had children, before we even confessed our feeling towards each other we had a special moment. Our relationship started with a hug. An embrace that conveyed way more than any amount of words. No words can ever adequately convey the feelings and emotions of a first kiss. 15 years later there are still many moments of silent love. When the house is quiet and he makes me a cup of my favourite hot drink the way he knows I like it. When I am in a shop and see the book he has been looking for for months and I buy it as a surprise. When we have got through another day of appointments and stresses and screaming and that smile and hug at the end of the day says more than the inside of any greeetings card ever could.
When that smile and the light in the eyes shows love when the words won’t come:
Cards are great. But sometimes there are no words to describe what you want to say. And sometimes you just don’t have words to start with.
So share a hug, send some flowers, smile, laugh together, treat someone, listen, spend time with people and show them you care. Actions really do speak louder than words. I know my children love me even though neither of them say. Even though one has the words and the other one is non verbal it doesn’t matter because they show me…even when the words won’t come.