Learning how to listen

We had our first official It Takes Two to Talk class on Wednesday and it was just as informative as I thought it was going to be. Honestly I haven’t been in a class setting in a very long time and although I have a good friend in class with me, I felt a bit of anxiety building up on my way to class. Once there I wrote my name on my name card, arranged my book and pen next to my coffee and began looking at all the other parents. Inventing stories and personalities in my head. We had all met at orientation, but this session was without kids, I find people look different when not being distracted by their children. Class was wonderful, we spent the majority of time placing our children into different categories to determine their level of expression and understanding. Ellie is a discoverer. This session also forced me to compare, which I hate to do. Thinking back to Mya at this age, thinking about the communication levels of typical kids Ellie’s age. Ellie is behind, no amount of positivity can deny that, she babbles but doesn’t know any words and only verbalizes a few consonants. She still mainly expresses herself through crying or laughing or reaching for what she wants, not yet pointing or waving byebye. But what I know, what makes me not feel so bad about delays, is my understanding of Ellie’s makeup, further solidified by books and professionals. Ellie is not stupid nor is she not trying, far from it, she works hard against obstacles she was born with every day. Communication will come, and judging by the beauty of her voice as she babbles “bababa,” I can’t wait to have conversations with her and hear her sweet sweet voice.

During break time we all participated in standard small talk like names of heart surgeons, complications from open heart surgery, and order in which teeth have been coming in. All of the parents are wonderful. Being in a room with parents who continually work so hard for their child’s success is inspiring, especially as a former caseworker who dealt primarily with neglectful parents.

The main thing I took from class this week was to listen to Ellie. Words are not the only way to communicate so I need to give Ellie a chance to tell me what she wants in whatever way she can. I am to give Ellie 5 whole seconds to respond to me. As adults we don’t always have the patience to wait for replies, ones that may take longer and be more difficult to decipher. My homework for the week: to observe Ellie’s expressions, to infer meaning she may not have yet, to talk to her face to face, and to not rush words, they will arrive, in their own special way.

We also experienced our first big snow of the year this week. Pics of playing in the snow!

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