Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Words matter

I have always believed that words and language are powerful things. More powerful than any weapon we've yet had the misfortune to design.

We escape into someone else's imagination because of them.  We build whole nations on the power of them.  We forge or forgo relationships based on our interpretation of them. We play with them in poetry and set them to song.

Language is used to reveal ourselves but also to betray.  Words can elevate and inspire, or they can weaken.  They can hurt. They can crush a spirit.

They can fill a heart with so much joy that the bursting would be well worth it.

I broke a friendship once because of words (though I could not tell you today what, exactly, those words were). Words can't be captured and they can never be taken back.

I agreed to a marriage because of words.

I teach using the best words I can find for each person.  They are never the same twice.

I am raising three beautiful little souls by filling them up with words - and silence.

Today I sat in the waiting room.  I am becoming accustomed to being one of Them, just another one of the parents that sit together on the other side of the door while our children get the extra help they need to find their own big and small successes.  I see kids whose struggles seem so much greater than my child's challenges.  Sometimes, I see those struggles eventually become hers, too.   And other times, I see her hop and skip past them (although she herself is neither hopping nor skipping... yet).

It is not often that I meet a child whose difficulties are subtle enough that my clinician's eye doesn't quickly identify his challenge, but today was one of those days.  A sweet, charming, inquisitive boy of four.  He didn't seem unsteady on his feet, wasn't trapped in his own world.  And he talked.

Oh, how he talked.

I watched how he and his mother and therapist had one of those funny four-year-old conversations about how he brought his bicycle today and he would ride it.  And he should ride it in the arena, with the horses because the horses wouldn't be scared.  But they couldn't ride it outside with Dorian, the therapy dog, because that would be silly.  Dogs can't ride bicycles! And would he ride Zippy today?  Or Fairytale?  But let's ride bikes first, OK?

And all at once I realized how much I have been missing those sweet conversations.  So simple and silly. Little hearts opened up for us and shared with words they cannot abuse.  Pure little glimpses into their lives: what is important and not important, or funny, or scary.

The day will come, I know.  But the road is a long one and I am not made of very patient stock.  My girl's mama chose a career that understands the value of words and language, and helping people find them and use them. I am wired to help people - my daughter - do that.  I can't not do it.  Even so, she is having a hard time gathering all of them up.  I see her looking for them.  She understands what they mean and what they can do.  But she just can't quite make her way there... yet.

And so together, she and I, and you - we will all just keep on looking until she finds them.

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