Spelling it out
Our house has become keyboard central! Paper keyboards, computer keyboards, the dynavox keyboard, and the iPad. I can’t count the times I pick one up everyday. I am always looking for an opportunity to ask Emma something about anything…”How did you sleep?” … “What do you want to do?”….. “What would you like to listen to?”…..”Tell me what you’re thinking?”….. Tell me, tell me….
Many times I just hold it in front of her and wait until she reaches out. The iPad has been great for helping her to be more precise. Seriously, her typing has greatly improved from using the iPad. But she still prefers the paper keyboard. She typed out: I prefer paper… it feels better.
I think she might be feeling some pressure at this point. Many times she’s lost her patience with me and vice versa. There’s been moments where I’ve wondered if this whole communicating thing was upsetting her whole world – overwhelming her. Was it feeling like too much of a burden for her? I would completely understand if she’s over me at this point. I’m even driving myself a little nutty with the whole thing. There’s just so much I want to know – that I haven’t been able to know. Well, what’s one more question…
Me: “Emma, do you still like communicating with me?”
I felt some relief. I guess I hadn’t scared her away completely. Even though I knew it was a dumb question, I’m glad I asked it.
Me: “That’s good. I guess I feel like I’ve been nagging you lately and I’m always the one asking all the questions. Do you have anything you’d like to ask me?”
Me: “What would you like to know?!”
Emma: Are you tired of reseting my hand?
Me: “No! Of course not! I love it – I could do it all day!” (And I literally feel like I do, especially on the weekends when we have more time together)
The “reseting” is in reference to those gentle hand squeezes that I do in between letters sometimes. But I don’t do them nearly like I used to. Emma is requiring less and less support and most of the time I am just lightly holding her arm below her elbow.
Me: “Why? Do I seem like I’m tired of reseting your hand?”.
Emma: You seem anxious for me to want to type
Me: “Well, I am – but just because I want to hear what you have to say. I just want to talk with you all the time. I love doing it.”
I was a little caught off guard with her question and her response. But not surprised really. She’d said something like this just a week or so ago and obviously it was still something she was thinking about – still feeling the pressure from me in some way. Or at least she was feeling my anxiousness.
Me: “Emma, the only reason I want you to type is so that I can hear your voice. I want to so bad. And I feel like it’s my job to help you practice typing. That’s what moms do, right? I push you to type so that you can have …. ”
What was the word I was looking for?
Me: “…the freedom. You know, the freedom to type whenever – for whoever – you want someday.”
This is an interesting journey. It’s thick with many unexpected layers of emotion – and also lessons. I sort of feel clueless in many ways about parenting a nine year old. And Emma seems way older than a nine year old in many ways. We haven’t been able to “talk” in all these years. I feel like I’m making up for lost time. It’s strange, I know her so well that many times I’ve known what she’s going to spell out before she types it. But then other times, like tonight, I have no clue what she’s going to type out …..
Me: “Did you have a good day?”
Emma: I appreciate typing
Me: “I know! How does it feel? What would you say it’s given you?”
Emma: It has given everything to me
Me: “It has given everything to me, too.”