This morning I woke up annoyed with the husband. It was due to a dream. Dreams often have a wisp of truth but should not be taken verbatim. I really wasn’t upset with him but as I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, I couldn’t shake my annoyance.
Last night we had a guest join us for dinner. Husband was oh so chatty and charming. I’m sitting there looking at him, “who is this man?”. Over the years, though always charming, he’s grown quiet. I’ve been known to encourage him to have “two-beers” to loosen his tongue but didn’t need to resort to this tactic. Having company sparks chatter and thank goodness that is even more effective than the two-beer method.
Lack of conversation frustrates me on multiple levels. First of all, I work alone and am not with people much during the day. Second, with Jess being non-verbal, she benefits from a language rich environment. Unfortunately, it’s a constant effort to maintain. Our family is in a rut.
Of course, the two-beer method doesn’t work on Jessie. She doesn’t drink and it’s not an appropriate crutch for anyone. No one should start their day off with brewskies! Except maybe if you’re vacationing in the Keyes and Jimmy Buffet is playing on the radio, I’ve seen commercials with two Coronas sticking out of the sand next to a lounge chair, the people have their feet in the ocean and you can hear the waves gently lapping at their feet. It’s a nice vision, great marketing but I don’t need the beer. Anyhow… I realized how much Jess and her Dad are alike in this regard and how I need to employ healthy tactics to foster conversation.
This morning, Jess, Roxy and I sat on the front porch waiting for Jess’s ride. It helps to be somewhere quiet, where there aren’t many distractions. I love these morning chats. I asked her if she wanted to go swimming? Was surprised she said no to the pool but rather go to the market and the dog park instead. I made a miss-hit while modeling on my Talker. When I made the mistake again, I said: “oops, I did it again”. She thought this was hysterical so I added that phrase to her Talker. Every time a new word is added, it’s a catalyst for her to talk and her world gets bigger. No doubt, Jess will be saying that phrase a few times today. She naturally practices the motor planning, committing it to memory.
When Jess talks with her AAC device, it’s a release. She’s less frustrated after sharing things that are important to her. She needs to practice the art of conversation with us. It’s much harder to speak in front of a group.
Why is talking so important? It allows minds to meet and weeds out assumptions. People see her differently after they hear her thoughts. Being able to talk is just something that most of us take for granted.
I realize that my role is to be a facilitator. I’ve known that this was vital for Jess, but apparently, husband expects me to do this for him too. They both are relying on me to spark conversation. Fortunately, I have a story for tonight. After Jess left, Roxy and I stayed on the front porch. A squirrel caught her eye, I told Roxy to be quiet, sit tight and wait for the right moment. Even though Rox was trembling with anticipation, the squirrel didn’t notice her. It helped that we were downwind. When the squirrel was on the ground between the trees, Roxy seized the moment. The squirrel headed for the cherry tree scrambled up to the top and made a leap to the next tree. It missed and fell right on Roxy! I wonder if squirrels dream? Would this be a nightmare?
If we let them, dreams can guide us. When we are awake, we are given the opportunity to rewrite them.
Mine is to encourage my family to communicate. For Roxy, I’m sure she will be planning on how to get that darn squirrel. We shall see, maybe the third time will be the charm.