“Momma- remember my talent show last year?”
“The one at afterschool- where I did gymnastics and concentration.”
“Well next year I’m going to do hula-hooping. I’m really good.”
“You are. You’ve been practicing. That’ll be cool.”
“Well- next year the Quail will have to participate too. I was thinking about it and I think she should do talking.”
At that I stopped typing and looked up at Zuzu from my computer. “Talking? Why talking?”
Truly I was caught off guard by the suggestion that the Quail’s ability to talk was her talent. Both that it seemed a talent to her sister and the fact that we have spent the last three years absorbed by the lack of her ability and trying to rectify that. By definition- her talking is no talent.
“Because she has Down syndrome and she works hard to learn to talk like I learned to hula-hoop. You and Daddy practice with her every day. You and Daddy will have to come to the talent show and show everyone how she does her bite-bites. No one knows what bite-bites are. I told Makaylah about them when she asked why the Quail doesn’t talk. I told her she does talk but it’s hard for her and you have to know her like I do to understand her. I showed her how to know what the Quail is saying.”
Just as she leans down to zip up her new purple boots the Quail wanders into the office and wraps her sleepy arms around Zuzu, wiggling her head into her stomach as she squeezes her tight. “Come on- Quail- let’s go play school- I’m Ms. Dobson- you go get your backpack to hang by your cubby.”
“Kay.” The Quail lets go of her and runs over to give me a quick explanation signing as she presses the words out with intention from her soft round mouth, “Zuzu. Me. School. Play.”
As I turn back to the computer, I hear them giggling through the hall back to their daily business at hand leaving me with a new perspective on what real talents live in our home and in these girls. These girls that get to take for granted their hard work and natural inclinations and each other. It’s easy to forget how much of your own beliefs and views your children naturally absorb each day and on the other hand, how much you can learn from them when you pause to listen.