My two-year old grand daughter just left. This child is the love of my life and her every milestone is miraculous to me. I don’t see her as often as I’d like, maybe every couple of months, so the changes I see in her are remarkable. She has started talking a lot and mimicking constantly. I find this endlessly amusing. I’m also struck by how hard she has to work to communicate. Some of her words are not distinguishable and there is a temptation to gloss over them and distract her but I find myself unable to do that. Fascinated by her earnestness when a word is correctly identified, I often find I’d had it all wrong. I see her frustration when we can’t understand what she wants and can’t distinguish her words. I feel that frustration myself at times.
She makes me think about the world a lot. I wonder what it will be like when she is my age. I wonder if I’ll still be physically able to keep up with her when she’s an adult and might want to do some of the things I love to do. Last night, walking back from the fireworks, she was between me and my daughter holding our hands, and I had a fantasy of us all crossing a finish line together like that. Not sure which one, maybe a marathon relay? Though I’d probably be the one in the middle with them holding me up. I wonder if it would mean as much to her as it would to me.
But it was her language that most captivated me this visit. I found myself wondering if I work this hard to understand everyone in my life? How often, when we speak the same language, do we judge when we’ve really got the meaning all wrong? When we assume we’ve heard correctly, but the essence is completely different? When I thought my angel was saying she wanted supper but she really wanted her slippers, I realized what a cascade of frustration could have ensued if I hadn’t persevered. I can’t remember pondering this when my kids were small. I do, however, remember having big fights with my ex about him not understanding what I was saying IN PLAIN ENGLISH! I wonder how many patients get treatments they don’t need because their health care providers don’t have time to find out what they are really complaining about.
I took her to church with me this morning while her parents slept in. On the way home we stopped at the grocery store to get a few things. She was happily sitting in the shopping cart pointing out things she recognized. I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time and we started talking for a bit longer than I’d planned. I was conscious of the limited patience of a toddler but she seemed intrigued by our conversation. After several minutes, however, she placed both her hands on my cheeks, turned my face toward hers and said clearly, “Home”. And she said it with a smile.
I have a lot to learn from this kid.