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My Little Man

December 19, 2011

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This past weekend our little family went to the mall to get the kids picture taken with Santa.  I know, the joy of 3 hours in line with a 5 and 3 year old.

As soon as we got in line I told my wife that a good idea was for one of us to stay in line with the kids while the other one went by themselves to get some drinks for everyone.  So I left with the kids to get the drinks.

We stopped first at Starbucks.  A grande wet cappuccino with 3 white sugars was definitely needed for what we were up against.

While waiting for my drink this woman told me how cute my kids were.  “That is very true”, I told her.  She then bent down and started talking to my son, who is 5.

Let me give you some history on this.  My son has a condition called speech apraxia.  Speech apraxia is a condition in which kids know what they want to say, but their tongues and mouth won’t cooperate.  This makes it very difficult to understand them and makes it very difficult for them to communicate what they are thinking.  My son is a very bright kid, but has had a hard time getting those thoughts to translate into words.

He’s been made fun of and called a baby by kids.  Adults have looked at us with looks that said, “I have no idea what he’s trying to say.”  There have been times when, if I’m honest, I wished people wouldn’t even talk to him.  He hides his frustration with silliness and humor, but I could see the frustration and he couldn’t always hide it. 

There were times that he would be in tears and he’d tell us “people don’t understand me.”  That’s fine if he’s an abstract artist, but it’s a little heartbreaking when he’s trying to tell someone he wants to have a dinosaur birthday.

So the lady bends down to talk to him.  My first thought was, “Please, don’t.”  It was just basic questions like how old he was and what he wanted for Christmas.  Being that there were 15 million people in the mall I couldn’t hear what all was said.

She finally stands up and looks at me.  There is no way she could have known what she was about to say to me.  She asked how old he was and then told me that he spoke very well for his age.  What?  She said most kids his age will mumble and look down when they speak but he spoke clearly and confidently.

I told her she really didn’t know what she had just told me.  I gave her some of the back story and that he had been in speech therapy for a couple years.  She said, “Well, his diction is excellent.”  To make it even better, she was British and I love British accents.

I saw her a few minutes later while taking one of the kids to the restroom.  I was a little surprised to see her again as I was sure she was an angel.  Angels will never have American accents, unless you’re not from America.

I’ll just cut to the moral of this story. 

Say nice things.  You may have no idea what you’re doing for the person you’re speaking to.  You just might be someone’s angel.

I included a poem I wrote after one particularly bad day for him.  As a parent, it’s tough when you can’t fix it.  Watching a little boy go through something that could reduce an adult to tears is hard sometimes.

My Little Man

You can laugh

        And when you do

Laugh at me too

        When he talks like a baby

Point at me too and correct me

        Who knows how to speak

Like a big boy

        Big boys like to laugh

At insecurities and inabilities

        Lean forward wide eyed

Laughing expecting waiting

        For a response

Always for a response

        Like tears, anger, anything

To pounce on

        With the devil’s own delight

Taking words like sticks

        You hit and bruise

With words like rocks

        You blister and splatter

Tears like blood

        On the floor on shoes

Your feet will never fill

        The sweetness

Of that little hand patting

        A grieving mommy

That little face kissing a baby sister

        Tormenting now with a sweetness

That will not retaliate

        With blows but will

One day stand taller still

        Than the big boys now

With wisdom and meaning

        A purpose in life is

Better because of him

        Because he is filled with strength

If not strong

        Because he is filled with mercy

If not words

        Because he is head and shoulders above

If not in stature

        He’s my little boy

And I know what he’s saying

        And I know what he’s made of

And I know what his heart and mind hold

        More than mere big boys

He holds the kindness and dreams of a man among boys

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4 Comments
  1. wonderfully written! Blessings, Joan

    • Joan, I’m reading your blog right now. I’m going to have to let a lot of that sink in. Thanks for the compliment.

  2. Michele McNally permalink

    I did not know this. I keep reminding myself about how God used Moses when Connor is frustrated with his speech challenges. God will surely bless Nate and both his parents who feel all of his hurts. I’ll say an extra prayer for him tonight. We all need reminders from time to time & kindness costs so little.

    “Uncle Herman’s middle girl” Michele

    • Thanks Michele. I think of Moses sometimes too. It does help knowing that God won’t look the other way just because someone has a physical hurdle to overcome.

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