Friday, October 16, 2009

Charades every day

I wonder if all toddlers feel like they are sitting non-stop in a dentist chair for about two years of their life: they can hear and understand, but never get to say anything. With Ethan, what has been so fun is watching him find ways to communicate. Sometimes, just pointing is enough, like when we saw a couple deer prance across the river today at dusk.

Or it can be more complex, like when we went back inside and Ethan asked to go into his high chair, even though we’d already eaten. He motioned towards a candle on the dining room table, and I acknowledged that it was indeed a candle. Not satisfied, Ethan motioned that he wanted out of his high chair, then led me over to where the matches are stored and pointed up. Finally, I understood, knowing how much he likes seeing the candle lit and blowing out the match. I told Ethan we were done with the candle for tonight but would light it again tomorrow for dinner.

What comes next is a priceless window into the heart. Ethan makes these subtle movements, mostly little shakes of the head, as he processes the information to understand it, then tries to come to grips with the reality of not getting what he wants. Sometimes it’s too much for a little boy, and cries and even tears ensue, but tonight, contentment won out: he covered his face, which told me he wanted to run around the house playing hide and chase. That request I honored, and away we went.

Afterwards it was time for sleepy sleepy now. Once in the crib, Ethan motioned that he wanted to be held by the window to get a better look outside. Ethan isn’t used to how dark it’s getting at bedtime. After I held him and then put him back in the crib, Ethan was troubled by what he heard. I had wound up his bear-on-a-hammock music box, and he had turned on his musical toy fish tank hanging on the crib. He was used to sometimes hearing sound from these two sources at once, but as he motioned towards the door, I realized he didn’t like how the classical music from the iPod dock downstairs was loud enough to be competing with the sounds in his room. At this point I felt blessed at how good of an understanding he has for language. I told him I’d take care of the music and he should just lie down with his bun and go to sleep. Right away, Ethan lied down, sucka came, and I waved good night on my way to turn down the music.

Mommy is blessed by Ethan’s communication, too. Soon she will get to come home from orchestra rehearsal to a well rested, sleeping little boy.