“Momma- you can’t bring a beard on the field trip tomorrow. Here’s a milk instead.” I was cleaning up the kitchen while Zuzu packed our lunches for our first field trip together with school. She’s been bustling with excitement that I was going to chaperone for a couple of weeks now and this evening had gotten serious with me over the do and don’ts of good parent chaperoning in the audience of her beloved teacher.
“Yes- beards- you know- what you and Daddy like to drink.”
Ah yes- those. Good thing she thought to mention it, considering the risk of her mother bringing alcohol on her first school field trip with her first grader.
And with that a new entry in the family dictionary was born. You know the family dictionary, the words that your family uses regularly for everyday occurrences, certain that the rest of the world does as well? Ours includes the likes of Sistred, rascaling, story-time manners, monstering, monster-spray, seat-cart, cramera, and now beards. These were brought into our days mostly by a pint-sized Zuzu. The one whose chatter starts before the sun comes up and before she could actually speak. As Sugarplum has now entered the pterodactyl stage of toddlerhood (You don’t refer to 9 months on as that in your home?) she’s taken her sister’s lead and jumped headlong into silly strings of jibberish that can only be described as having been modeled after Brad Pitt’s lilting British Pikey accent from the movie Snatch. Much like when I saw that movie, sub-titles, would be helpful. To date phrases that have been puzzled out like “I don’t know.” and “It sure does!” in response to my clucking are a wonder to hear in this little person after having adjusted our expectations to the apraxic speech development of the Quail.
While we live with and understand the motor-planning difficulties that the Quail works hard to push her thoughts through into our understanding; we’ve become so accustomed to apraxia’s theft of our child’s words that I find myself still routinely doubting the permanence of the words the Quail and Sugarplum contribute to our days. Early on I breathed in a small circle of words from the Quail’s sweet mouth to my ears, “Ove you Momma.” One time. Over three years ago. As she laid her head on my shoulder while I carried her sweet sugar-sacked body into bed. And still I wait for those words to come again.
I know they will. Eventually.
Eventually she will speak them in the same manner that other non-apraxic 46-chromosomed little ones do. For now though, we create ways for our family to understand each other in less traditional means. With naming and telling of the Sistred’s antics to show them both uniquely and as a whole to ourselves and our community. Through rascaling-bear- cub sister’s antics where half-nelson’s are gentle enough for half-pints. Through story-time manners where there is always a free hand to lasso the chubby leg of our littlest pterodactyl as she trustingly edges her grinning self over the cliff of the bed-rail- again. To tickle-monstering sneak-attacks when a grown-up sits unawares blogging or philosophizing. To gingerbreaded- monster sprays that protect the nights and dreamlands of the biggest sister who is still little enough to be protected by her imagination. To patience and room for sisters to teach and help each other as one explains how to buckle into her seat-cart when another one insists on doing it themselves after pushing away their frustrated parents hands. With both silly and paused hugs offered up for the stills and stories captured and shared from Momma’s cramera .
With arms circled tight around my neck as a wriggling four year old, chants with soft pride- “My Momma, My Momma” again and again after months of articulating work with her Daddy on her /m/ sound and is answered with, “I know. I love you too.”