A little while back I posted this blog: Children Will Listen.
I needed to revisit this entry after an incredible moment happened this weekend.
Todd and I got into a spat and we both needed time apart to cool off and regroup. I cozied up in bed with Evan and he played a game on his iPad. Todd came in to join us and he lay on the other side of Evan. We started discussing our argument and sorting things out. We weren’t using loud voices or using foul language. But we certainly weren’t in great spirits.
A few times Evan looked up at us and repeated, “How are you feeling today, Mommy?” or “How are you feeling today, Daddy?” This is not uncommon, however. He is in a phase now where that is one of his favorite go-to questions to ask everyone. We would answer quickly, “I’m okay, buddy,” and continue our conversation.
This is when the magic happened.
Evan broke away from his iPad and pulled Todd’s hand across the bed. He then pulled my hand toward Todd and put our them together with the intent of making us hold hands. Of course we did, and my breath caught in my throat and I felt my eyes get hot with tears.
He started to do a slight bounce- which he does when he is nervous or excited. Todd asked, “Is that better buddy?” To which Evan answered, “Yes.” (recently he has taken up answering “yes,” in this very formal way and I love it)
We have known for a very long time that Evan hears and understands far more than what he expresses out loud. I can remember his first speech therapist saying to me, “He is taking everything in. He is thinking and connecting and remembering, he is just not always expressing it to you.” But even when you know that, you can very easily take it for granted that he is picking up everything you are saying. We, as humans, rely so much on spoken words for approval, reassurance, connection, trust, the list goes on. And even with a child with eyes as deep and full of emotion as Evan’s- it can still be hard to know what he is thinking.
But in that moment it was clear.
He could feel the tension between the two of us. He knew whatever we were discussing was a not a happy moment. He wanted to connect the two of us so we would stop our serious discussion and show him that we were still okay.
Isn’t that what we all seek? To know that we are still okay? In our relationship with our spouse, in our friendships, our jobs- we just want to know that everything is okay.
Of course this is not always possible. We have to help teach our children and students that it is okay for things to not be okay all the time It’s okay for things to stink and for disappointments to happen and for life to throw you curveballs. The Hard is going to happen. How we handle it is up to us.
But in that moment- when Evan pulled our hands together- it really was okay. And I think I needed to know that as much as he did. He didn’t need to use oral language to communicate his need. We knew because he showed us.
He is constantly showing us.