Sunday, January 20, 2013

57 Words

Recently our daughter's speech therapist sent home a booklet for us to fill out. It contains hundreds of words that developing children typically use when starting to understand the basics of communication. We were surprised to discover that Noëlle uses, and understands, 57 words. To most parents of five year old children, 57 words would not be brag worthy. We, however, are not most parents, and Noëlle is certainly no ordinary five year old. To us, 57 words are the difference between frustration, confusion and meaningful interactions; they are the difference between being a "special child", and being a thinking, feeling, personable individual.

With these 57 words, Noëlle can express real emotions- Happy and Love -to some of the most important people in her young life who she knows loves her: Mommy, Dada, Dryden, Baby, Saku, Nana, and Poppa. If we manage to do our job as her parents well, then these will always be the foundation of her life: family, love, and happiness.

With the very few words she understands, she amazes us by expressing a healthy sense of self worth: Noëlle Good Girl, Little Star. She is mirroring the image and opinion that others have of her (which let's face it, all girls do) so we need to be diligent in ensuring that these are always positive.

Noëlle's 57 words have helped display her personality to the world, her singular individualism that we sometimes foolishly forget she possesses. She is bossy (Sit! Stay! No! C'mon! Shhhh!) She is funny (tickle tickle, Boo!) and polite (Thank you, Morning! Sorry, Hello, Bye, Night!) Noëlle is a great singer (Twinkle Twinkle, Row, row, row, Round and round) and a charmer (Love you, Gentle, Hug?)

These 57 words have given our daughter a voice, a means to communicate her basic needs and wants, the possibility to interact with those around her. These words make her understood. These words validate her intelligence, and importance. Her small pool of vocabulary encourages me to try to choose the best words to be absorbed into our kids' sponge like brains- I am the Hemingway of our house, labouring endlessly over the perfect word.
The perfect word to become #58...

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