I Will Admit it… I Didn’t Have My Listening Ears On

I just wanted him to speak. I swore to myself that, even if his first words were simply a string of profanities, I would still love the %#&* out of them.  I remember when people would tell me over and over, “Be careful what you wish for.” Yeah… you might want to stop saying that to someone who has never heard the word, “Mommy,” escape preschooler’s lips.

Eventually he did talk, and I did love it, just as I promised myself that I would.  However, time went by and I had to remind myself of this more and more. As Colin got older, the words came faster, and faster, and LOUDER. He also developed something that many of us are very familiar with… the special interest. To all of the Minecraft parents, you get me. I send you a virtual fist bump through my computer monitor. I happily listened when he talked about Enderman, Creepers, and some guy named Steve. Then, it took some work to care. About two months in, it became white noise.

Then one day, when we were leaving the public library when…

“Mommy, if you want to defeat the Ender Dragon, you have to… Please don’t drive over West Virginia.”

“Mmmhmm, wait… what?”

Colin stood there in the library parking lot and pointed to a flaw in the asphalt. To me it just looked like a giant blob, but I snapped a picture of it anyway. He was very concerned so I backed out, very gingerly, making sure to miss the blob. When we arrived home, just for fun, I googled a map of West Virginia.  The blob was a perfect match. I sat there wondering how he knew. How did he make the connection? Above all, I wondered how many of these moments had I missed while tuning him out.

This post was triggered by one of those Facebook time hops.  This showed up on my page last week…

“For the last 3 years my son has only been able to use 4 words. This week his vocabulary doubled. His voice is heaven.”

I can’t believe that I let myself forget that struggle, even for a moment. Often my husband and I will be having a conversation and Colin will interrupt to tell us something really important about his latest quest, (or whatever they are called.) Mike and I will tell him to wait, but in reality, we probably won’t have a real conversation until the boy goes to sleep… or moves out.

Until then, I will try everyday to re-dedicate myself to listening to, and really hearing him.  After all, the entire population of West Virginia might be depending on it.

One Comment
  1. My Boy Wonder didnt speak until a little after his 5th birthday. Not even, “Mama”. Agonizing. His first language was ASL, which I had to learn whilst pregnant with his little brother and chasing his 2-year-old sister around (she also didnt call me anything). When he finally did speak, it was mush — but glorious mush! So wonderful to hear his voice, a miracle. I took video of it as he progressed… Now, he is 7-and-a-half and a MOTORMOUTH. He doesnt always make sense and, yes, I am guilty of the “tune-out” when I am hearing the same litany for the 15th time in one morning… Then I go back and look at the footage of his first, tenuous words — the missing syllables, the vowels and consonants he couldnt yet pronounce, all mixed with ASL as a visual interpreter — and I cry happy tears mixed with pain. That was such a HARD time to endure… I was so worried for my boy, mixed with loads of denial, anger, frustration and fear. “Powerless” — it is a word, no? 😉 I confess, I take it for granted now. (And yes, it turns out his sister is on the Spectrum as well… Their little brother is also, I strongly suspect, mildly affected — and we are expecting #4 in May. This is just our special reality, I guess.) This post reminded me so much of that time… Thanks 🙂

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