I know I talk a lot about how hard I find things with Kai some days. I’ve become so aware of the negative voice into which I seem to slip:
“He’s so difficult”
“Why does he have to make everything so complicated?”
That’s me off-loading.
I need to do it because he is difficult. But it’s only one side of the coin and I’m beginning to see that the other side is far richer, and far more significant. It’s a side I need to concentrate on more, need to talk about more. Because it is the ‘good’ things that define Kai far more than the ‘bad’, and actually affect and enrich our time together far, far more.
This post is about one of the good things. One of many that make my boy so special and being his mother, being in his company, such a privilege and such a gift.
I realised something recently. Kai’s lack of language is forcing me to pay attention.
Without a simple word or words to hear, understand, maybe instantly dismiss, I have to become a detective, hunting for clues of meaning. The body language he uses, the intonation of his voice, his gestures and made-up signs. What is he telling me?
Kai is incredibly sensitive to noise at the moment. It’s his big obsession. Sounds seem to affect him in a multitude of different ways. Of course there are the bad noises, the ones that make him quiver and shake and cling and scream. Or that will seem to mesmerise him and leave him wired and overstimulated for hours afterwards. The hoover’s the biggy here, and the food processor and the hair dryer and the shrill noises on some toys. These sounds cause frustration and tears and stress.
But then there are the sounds he likes, the sounds of sirens in the distance or aeroplanes in the sky, or a dog barking, or the sound of a bin lorry or a million other different noises he will detect in his environment instantly, no matter how quiet or how much background noise there is. His little eyes light up, he cups his ear and excitedly he will grab and point and dance and babble to tell me in his language “Listen Mummy! Listen!”
And listen I do. And I hear the thing he has heard. The thing I have nearly always failed to notice. And with my boy we will hunt for the source of the noise, scanning the sky, or stopping to work out which direction it’s coming from, or listening to what the dog might be saying and if another will answer back. And when we work it out I will share in his glee and his excitement. If it’s music that has caught his attention I will pick up on the sway and bounce of his body as he tries to find the rhythm, and I will listen to the beat and the way the music fits together.
I’m getting better at the listening. I’m getting better at picking up on the source of his interest. I’m hearing the bird song and the sound of the wind.
Did you know that the world is filled with such beautiful and fascinating sound?
Of course there are the visual interests too. What it he has seen? What is it that has caught his eye and his attention? A cat darting under a car, a bird on the TV aerial, a bus or a digger in the distance, the light flashing on the answering machine. Again, all things I wouldn’t have noticed. Again, all things I am learning to see.
I am getting better at looking. I am getting better at noticing the tiny details. I am seeing the shine of a treasure in the hedgerow and the way the leaves dance in the gutter.
Did you know that the world is filled with such endlessly intoxicating things to look at?
Why would I want to change this way of perceiving the world?
Yes, the lack of language, the sensitivity and frustrations Kai experiences, sometimes they make my days more exhausting and overwhelming than I feel like I can handle.
But in the moments in between, when I feel like this boy is opening my eyes and my ears in ways I never could have predicted, I am so glad of it all, every little bit.
He is making me a better mother. He is making me a better person, and a better writer too. I really believe that.
And I am so grateful for it, so grateful for him.
What have your children taught you? How has responding to their personalities and their needs changed you?