We have started our youngest child in speech therapy. At 21-months-old, he has about 3 words he says on a regular basis, and a few more animals sounds on top of that. (His sound for a cow, and a train whistle are indistinguishable…”Boo-Boo!”)
By federal mandate, each state has a program available to families that will pay for this type of therapy…as long as the child qualifies. After one quick assessment meeting a couple weeks ago (during which we didn’t even make it through the entire assessment before the woman told me we didn’t have to go any further…that my son was at a 50% delay–placing him at the speech functioning level of a ten-month-old) we were signed up!
So, we now have a case worker–a “Family Support Specialist”–along with a speech therapist, who also happens to be a friend of mine from a long-ago play group I attended with Ellie when she was a baby. When the case worker came to our home for her initial visit, she pulled out her clipboard, stuffed with questionnaires, carbon copy forms, and photocopied handouts. She is a lovely, motherly woman named Rose, and clearly adores children.
Rather than start off with a review of Gabe’s verbal capabilities and deficits, Rose started with what, I realize, to her, was the most important question.
“What is your favorite thing about Gabriel?”
A smile erupted on my face. When was the last time anyone had asked me that question? When had I actually stopped to ponder that question–about any of my children? While I laugh, stomp, giggle, pout and ponder my way through each day in reaction to the antics of my children…I couldn’t think of the last time I’d sat and pondered my favorite characteristic of each child.
“He is so incredibly sweet and gentle,” I blurted out, pulling myself out of my momentary, love-induced spell. “He is such a blessing to our family.”
So this, I think, will be my new approach to centering myself, in the midst of a particularly difficult day with the kids. Just like the mother in Robert Munsch’s Love You Forever, I have times where I holler to the rooftops, “this kid is driving me crazy!!!” Those, I dare say, are the exact moments when I ought to imagine myself sitting on the front porch of our home with Rose, one or all of my children milling around in the front yard, with Rose asking me that appropriately pointed question:
“What is your favorite thing about each of your children?”
What is YOUR favorite thing about YOUR child(ren)?