learning to listen.
About a month ago, my husband and little Elliott were in search of a baba gone missing. It was late, and as usual Elliott was fighting his bedtime. Countless times Taylor asked, "where's your bottle, Elliott?" and our boy would, in response, pronounce the same baby jibberish we've always heard. We've been warned that Elliott's DiGeorge syndrome might cause speech delays but we were taking those warnings in stride more recently. Encouraging speech and discouraging the humming, pointing, and primitive sign language Elliott often falls back on, trying not to feel frustration when we can't understand him. We know Elliott will eventually speak, and while speech therapy is an option down the road, we feel that for the next little while we'd like to see where Elliott pushes himself. So last week, on the hunt for a bottle Elliott declared in baby talk something rather unintelligible, until very clearly, we heard it. It was as plain as day if we had really been listening. "I no knowww."
The light bulb went off overhead in our living room, and when Elliott realized we understood his speech for a moment, it set off a firestorm of blabbering sweetness. Elliott told us about his day and whatever came to mind, for twenty whole minutes. My heart warmed and my eyes stung a bit, because for the first time I felt like I was hearing my little boy's voice. I couldn't understand much of it, and could only pick out pieces of words, nose, doggie, and possibly Sesame Street, but it was there. Elliott was talking to us.
It made me realize how really, I should be listening more. It's a tough thing to dredge up the patience and decipher a two year old's speech, when really most of it is going to be nonsensical babbling anyway. But how many times in the last week did he truly use his words, try to communicate with his mom and dad on a communicable level? And how many times did I notice? Furthermore, how many times did I make the effort to notice?
As the weeks have passed Taylor and I have made the effort to listen more. Whatever I am doing or pouring my attention into isn't worth missing a word, a phrase, or a thought coming out of my little boy's mouth. The dirty dishes aren't important, it's the glimmer of imagination behind his warbled phrases. With milky, bubbled drool pouring down his chin he's been uttering little phrases and words, and I am starting to catch on. More milk, go outside, Grandma. It's there, between the clustering of consonants and new sounds, the spitty drool and innocent hesitation. Elliott is finding his voice. And I am learning to listen.