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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Communication

Charlie's language skills have exploded recently.  Just today, when I was outside with her playing on the slide, I was completely amazed at how she is now able to communicate her wants and needs with me.  She climbs up the ladder for the slide, goes and sits down, and says, "READY! SET! GO!"  She then slides down, laughing gleefully.  "Mama, I did it!"

Earlier that day, I yelled up the stairs for Elizabeth to ask how many eggs she wanted for dinner.  Charlie, helper that she is, ran up the stairs and asked Elizabeth if she wanted eggs.  Probably about 10 times in a row, up the stairs, then back down, then up again to ask again.  I guess she wanted to make sure.  Then she came running back to me to tell me, very seriously, "Boo wants eggs, Mama."  Thanks, child.  Then she peers up at me and goes, "Whatcha doin', Mama?"

I very clearly remember the first sentence that Alexis spoke.  We were having ice cream with Elizabeth and her best friend Jewel.  Alexis turned to me with her cone and proudly says, "I a big kid."  I asked, "Are you a big kid cause you have ice cream?"  She nodded and grinned.

All of these little instances of early communication.  Burgeoning skills.  Laying the foundation for a lifetime of communication.  I say more often than not now, "Use your words!" when Charlie is trying to get a point across.  She is hovering at that boundary between crying like a baby would and speaking.  Of course, she will cross the line and (hopefully) move to a majority of speaking. 

It is amazing sometimes how even grown adults can revert back to that toddler way of communicating.  We become self-centered; incapable of seeing the other point of view.  That toddler impulse, the id if you are a Freudian, comes out in even the best of us.  Communication breaks down.  Feelings get hurt.

What do people do who don't have someone to guide them into that capability?  What must that be like, to have all of these feelings that you can't put into words?  That you never even learned the words for?  Or even learned to acknowledge their existence?

I make my living communicating.  That does not mean that I speak a lot.  In fact, quite the opposite.  One of the first things I had to learn as a therapist was how to shut the fuck up.  To give people the chance to speak.  The power of silence.  How to listen.

How to help people find their voice.  I am theoretically doing this with my children.  The hope is that they will learn how to communicate in an effective manner; to avoid the heart break that can come when you try to connect with another human being.

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