I must be one of the few parents who delight in hearing my daughter being cheeky. That does not mean I will not be teaching her and training her in how to behave but there is something about her giving smart remarks, exerting her own will and asking for treats that actually brings healing to my heart.
Oh how I would so love to hear her brother shout back at me in frustration because I have corrected him for something he didn’t like or respond to some remark I say by giving a remark back of his own that showed understanding, quick thinking and advanced cognitive processing. Oh how I wish he was able to exhort his will verbally by saying ‘no, I don’t want to go there mummy I want to do this instead.’ I would actually cry if he said something similar to my daughter who told her daddy today “I am fed up with you being grumpy.”
I didn’t tell my daughter how amazing that comment was. In actual fact she was corrected for speaking to her dad like that but inside she was bringing healing to my heart.
This is how it is supposed to be.
You are supposed to hear your young child say things that seem cheeky or naughty. As part of their development it is normal for them to hear worlds others say and repeat them at times they are not supposed to. Children make grammatical mistakes and even make up words of their own. You expect them to get frustrated at times and even shout at you. They learn to whisper, scream, tell jokes, share stories and experiences and express emotion all hopefully within the guidance of a loving and secure home. And they are going to challenge, delight, make us proud and give us plenty of things to smile about. We get to read to them, share our lives with them and build them up. We get to interact and communicate with them and hear what they like, who their friends are and what their day has been like. And because we teach them to communicate we can eventually allow them freedom knowing they have an ability to share any problems or concerns with us as they grow and mature.
Except my 5 year old son still can’t even say ‘mamma’. He can point to a food he wants or scream if he doesn’t want something. He can hold my hand and take me to something if he knows where it it and I can make a guess at what he wants. But he won’t let me read to him, he can’t communicate in any way how he is feeling or if he is in pain, he can’t tell me what he has done that day if he has been away from me, he can’t shout at me in frustration or anger or tell me he loves me. He hasn’t got the ability to make up stories to tell me about his favourite characters, or be able to ask for some programme on the TV he wants. He can’t even ask for sauce on his dinner if he does not know where it is. And because of his severe communication difficulties and learning difficulties he has very limited freedom.
So yes, I would love him to be cheeky to me one day. In actual fact if he told me he hated me it would bring healing to my heart. It would show he could speak, could understand basic emotion and it would be a three word sentence said in context. It would be music to my ears!
His sister has no idea how much I need to help her build train tracks, and talk to her about her beloved Thomas trains. How I delight in hearing her made up stories based on episodes of Thomas the tank engine she has read or watched. How I could spend all day with her in the garden pretending it is a cafe and she is serving me food. The simple delights of interaction and imaginative play bring healing to my heart. How my heart jumps for joy when she asks for a shed for her engines because she has seen one in a shop, and how I still smile inside when she gets stroppy that I said it was too expensive. Because that strop means she understood my language, her asking showed she can form full sentences and request in a way everyone understands and her approaching me showed she knows that communication has a purpose and can get her what she wants. And the healing continues in my heart when I say we can make a shed instead. She trusts me, she is connected to me and she is willing to wait and watch while I stick some boxes together to make her a shed.
Oh how I wish her brother could ask for a toy, understand the concept of cost and the fact it was too expensive, express his upset at this, and be willing to accept a compromise based solely on my use of language. Oh how I wish he would even play with toys in a meaningful way rather than chewing them.
As we pass the halfway mark of our summer holidays we are looking at uniform purchase for Naomi. There was no uniform to buy in the shops last year for her brother. It was jumpers and t-shirts from a school supplier and simple jogging bottoms. We never had the tie, or shirt, or school trousers. And the buying uniform is healing that place in my heart that longed for this experience. This is how it should be.
I will get to walk my daughter to school soon. It will be emotional in so many ways. But it will help that healing. I never had that with her brother as he has to go on transport 13 miles each way to a school for children with complex needs. To walk my daughter to school, talk to her coming home about her day, find out the name of her friends, hear what picture she has on her peg; those simple acts parents take for granted. Those are special. I get to have that photo of her first day going into school.
Everyday I realise how much I have missed with my son. I treasure the moments he wants to sit near me, or smiles at me, or hands me his iPad to change the google images for him. I love every moment he takes me hand and leads me. Those moments bring me healing too.
But seeing my daughter just being a child, hearing her voice singing and chatting and asking me endless questions, hearing her tell me she loves me.
There was a place in my heart that was empty. I never knew how hurt and broken that place was. But my sweet little daughter is soothing that pain and reaching into areas that needing that healing balm of oil. She needs me. I need her. And I need her brother too.
One day he might say ‘mummy’ again. One day he might kiss me or tell me he loves me. One day I might even correct him for giving me cheek. One day I might be able to make him a toy he wants and see his face light up as we play together with it.
And those moments will keep bringing healing to my heart too.
Never take a child for granted. Cherish every moment.