Her hand passes over the top of the warm cupcake as she looks up at me making sure she is right. The cupcake is hot. It is fresh from the oven. She reaches over my hand to grab the bottle of sprinkles and rainbow the top. I pause and ask her to wait.
“Yes baby. Get a bowl please. We’ll put some sprinkles in a bowl for you to use. We need to share the sprinkles.”
She carefully navigates her short legs to the ground and takes the two steps to the drawer where the small collection of child-size bowls are stored. She pulls and then pulls a little harder when the ancient drawer won’t give. She sits down to go through the choices and I hear her quietly muttering the colors as she pulls them out.
She makes the sign for bread as she sets it down and reaches for the purple. I smile thinking of how she made her own clever sign for the color red. It rhymed. It made sense to her. She taught it to us. Often her approximations of words have to be mentally sorted out into their meaning given the context of the situation while we stumble into understanding. But this one, this one made me chuckle. She knows what rhyming is. When her early interventionist was over last month I watched amazed as she laid out images paired with simple words and then asked her to figure out which ones sounded alike.
“Pur” she whispers and turns just a shade away from me knowing full well what is coming next. Over the last few months we’ve had to push her to talk. We practice words we know she can say and we d-r-a-w them out for emphasis of each syllable. We push. She pushes back. Sometimes I wish “no” was a little harder for her to say. She answers with a garbled noise and I crouch down, ”You can do it. P-u-r-p-l-e. Try baby” I say in soothing tones and tap the side of the plastic rimmed bowl.
Clear as a bell she recites it back with a crisp p sound in the middle. She grabs it from the floor and clamors back up into her chair holding it out for me to pour in some sprinkles. As I do she puts her thumb to finger, pinches up a bit of the sparkly colors and douses the cupcake in front of her not hesitating as she reaches to the platter for her next sugary creation.
“Yes baby. Hot. Be careful.”
And we begin again.