“Why is it that when we talk to God we’re said to be praying, but when God talks to us we’re schizophrenic?” ~Lily Tomlin
Little Johnny never talked. Not a word, when he was four his parents took him to doctors, nothing wrong. Just never spoke. Then one day when he was six the family was having dinner and out of the blue,
“Mom, pass the salt.”
“Johnny, JOHNNY, you spoke! How come you never said anything before?”
“I had nothing to say.”
Well, it was funny when I was a kid.
As you know, Pearlsky does not speak at all. Not a word, no communication of any type. One side effect is that I find myself not talking to her much. We will sit together for most of the evening and I won’t say a word. Not that I ignore her, we are together, lots of time I am holding her hand, or if I’m on the computer and she is next to me, I tilt her wheelchair so her foot is on my knee, so lots of time there is some contact. I will tell her when I am getting her meds or food, or even tell her who is on the phone. But that is minimal. I just don’t talk to her.
What am I going to do? Bitch about my day? Ask her how her’s was? Sure, there are some topics and days where there is something sharable, but it is tough. There is no feedback, no nod, no rolling her eyes, no “oh, daddy, that’s so dumb.” Do I dare say I get the same feedback I would get talking to a fruit? If only I just thought outloud. For how long would you talk to your kid if there was absolutely no feedback, no “look at me when I speak to you,” no response, nothing? A week? Seventeen years?
Every night I do say the same thing to her as I tuck her in so she has heard my voice at the end of every day, every 6200 of them. “Good night, sweetheart. I adore you, sleep goodly.”
I don’t talk to her. I can’t talk with her. I feel guilty because one is supposed to speak to one’s kid.
So, instead of telling your kid to shut up, just have him/her call me.
Oh, and please pass the salt.
‘Twas funny in my childhood, too – only the punchline I heard was “up until now the food was fine.”
I think the description of how you spend your time with your daughter is – lovely. But only matters what you think.
Supposed to. Out the window with that.
It’s so funny that you write this today because after a two-and-a-half-hour neurology appointment with the kid today, I found myself cooing and making humming noises at him as I was sapped of energy to make any real words come out. The funny part is I consciously noticed that I was doing this instead of talking to him, and I wondered if I should not be making little rumbling animal-like-babyish noises to him, but I didn’t stop doing it. Oh great! One more thing to worry about..;)
I get this totally. I don’t talk to Sophie very much, either, and am inordinately grateful when someone does. I feel so self-conscious when I do — it feels inane, actually. Sophie does respond when I read aloud to her, though, and that comforts both of us, I suppose. THIS whole conversation makes my stomach hurt, actually.
Aww heck. Tomorrow, because of this, I will try to be more tolerant of my two very loud little girls. I can’t promise it will last very long, but I will stop to appreciate their utter normalcy.
Hey, we have this same joke in Hungarian. Actually someone just told me this joke not that long ago, I guess as an attempt to encourage me in regards of Izzy’s complete lack of vocalization. For me, lack of speech is one of the hardest aspect of my daughter’s disability to come to terms with. I know that the receptive skills of AS children are much higher than their productive skills (well, it’s not so hard since their productive skill is nonexistent) so I constantly have to remind myself to expose Izzy to as much verbal stimuli as possible. I try to find comfort in the fact that words are not the only way to communicate. Sometimes it works. Sometimes not at all.
This was an amazingly written post. I dont know why (or maybe i do) but i just got really sad picturing the 2 of you in my mind in this silent way. not PITY sad, mind you, just … i dont know… lonely sad. i cant completely relate bc though my daughter is non-verbal she react to being spoken to… she recognizes her name and some basic commands. When she’s in the mood, she’ll even seem to enjoy “baby talk” kind of stuff. But I do relate in that there is no conversation that occurs between us, neither veral nor symbolically/non-verbal unless she’s trying to show me that she wants something (mostly food). I also have 3 other children, little talkative things, so it fills the void. but i remember when i was a single mom with only my eldest with her disabilities. I remember things being very silent in our apartment …
anyway this post really touched me.
Funny, I thought I was alone in this, really. Your comments are great. And Alicia, I get what you are saying, but the reality is not really sad (I don’t think). We are watching TV, the phone is ringing, hanging out together, so, it is not so bad. Just the guilt of the reality that I am not talking …
I too often sit in silence with my 7 yo non verbal child. I try to talk to her, but it is hard to have so many one sided conversations. When she cries I always talk to her, and I have found myself singing to her a lot.