If you’ve never had or worked with a child who has fought for every word s/he says, then you probably won’t understand why something as small as what I witnessed this afternoon feels so monumental. But my kid has fought for every single word. And that’s why things that might be commonplace for a child with typically-developing speech feel so huge.
“Too much sugar. I’m not getting you another apple juice,” I replied. (Remember: This kid has been eating Halloween candy for the past week!)
“I’m thirsty,” she declared.
“You can have some water,” I replied.
“Okay,” she conceded.
“Let’s go to the counter and ask for some water.”
I stood up, took her hand, and led her to the cafe. Just as we approached the counter she broke away from me. She climbed on a foot bar, looked at the barista, and said, “I’d wike a cup of wada, please.”
I froze a couple steps behind her. My mouth hung open. Did I just see what I thought I saw? Who was this confident kid?
Even though her words weren’t perfectly clear, the barista understood her. “Here you go,” he said handing her a plastic cup. “Go over to the soda fountain and press the button for water. It’s beneath the lemonade.”
Once I finally found my words, I thanked the man and praised Isabelle. I don’t remember my exact words to her because I was gushing. I told her I was proud of her for using her voice to ask for something. I told her I was delighted she took the risk to speak to someone who she thought could help her get what she wanted. I told her I was thrilled she used good manners without me having to remind her.
This doesn’t happen every day. In fact, it rarely happens. Getting Isabelle to order in restaurants is hard. She rarely does it unless she feels very comfortable. I think it’s because she knows she’ll most likely be misunderstood and that bothers her. I never would’ve expected her to do something like this in a place where she’d only been once before. But she did. And for that reason, I’m a very proud mama tonight.