Posted by: emjb | September 16, 2007

My non-speaking child is still a genius

Nathan utterly surprised me today.

We’ve been reading Snuggle Puppy every night as part of our bedtime routine. This is harder than it sounds, as part of it is supposed to be sung, so I had to make up a tune out of my head, not one of my better skills. Still, he seems to love it.

Our routine is, I put him in the crib with his sippy cup (he’s not a lap-baby in any way) and he drinks it while I sit on the floor next to the crib and hold the book up while I sing/read it to him.

Last week, we noticed him picking up various random books and holding them up, gabbling some baby words and making kissing noises, like he was reading them to someone. We thought it was cute, but just a sort of random copying behavior.

Today, he showed us just how much he understands. Before bedtime, he picked up the Snuggle Puppy book and turned the pages, and gave me his version of it…down to the “oo’s” and kissy noises, which are part of the song you’re supposed to sing…and he made the noises on the right page! Seeing him go “Lalalala…oooo…” and then blow a kiss on cue is just amazing. He can read! Sort of! Or at least, knows the story cues and has figured out how to imitate some of them!

I know, other parents think this is routine, blah-de-blah. But what Nathan knows or doesn’t know is still so mysterious to us, since he doesn’t speak our language, and so we very seldom are sure that he’s understanding or absorbing what we say and do. Today, it feels like he really communicated with me for the first time, and it just blew me away.

I still wonder about his talking, and if therapy might be of some use, because he does get frustrated when he can’t communicate with us, and it’s clear he has a lot to say. He will probably figure out how in his own way, but if we can help him make it easier, I wouldn’t mind at all. I would love one day soon for him to correct me when I get a story wrong, or be able to tell me what comes next, to find out what he really likes or doesn’t like, or hear what he is thinking about when he stares solemnly out the window.

This stage feels a little like the weeks before he was born, when we knew so much about him yet longed to see his face, hear his voice, hold him, smell him, get to know him for real instead of in theory. Now it’s not his little face, but his little mind, that we’re eager to meet. Because that’s when the fun really starts, isn’t it?

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