by tracybanaszynski

“Like some milk.”

H is wandering around the condo, back and forth between the living room and the kitchen, where I am making blueberry peach popsicles.

“Like some milk on the big couch.”

“H would like some milk on the big couch. Okay, sweet pea. I am making some more popsicles and then I will give you milk. I will be right there.”

H gravitates toward the fireplace. He is jangling its wire mesh curtain. The sound is frantic and agitated.

“Hard to wait!” he shouts.

Hard to wait. He got those words from me, yet how often I am amazed when I hear them from his mouth. He listens to my words. Of course he does. But there is something different going on, too. The words he is learning describe concepts, and when strung together in a certain way, convey attitudes, beliefs, philosophies, and ideals. He is learning not just words, but a way of moving in the world, of sorting and naming his experiences and feelings, and of valuing himself and others. Someday his influences will broaden beyond our family circle, and he will learn other words from other people, words that describe points of view and values that might be different from the ones he hears now. He will learn other words and some might stick for one reason or another, either replacing or happily cohabitating with the ones he is learning now at home. I hope that he will trust me to help him wade through the words with him for a while at first, and, when the time comes, that he will be confident in his ability to pick and choose the words that serve him well and best. For now though, giving him words is my responsibility.

Having my words come back to me through him is a powerful reminder of my influence and of how important my word choices are. He is listening, and he hears everything. This is why it is so important to me to choose the words I use with him with care.

“Yes, sweet pea, it can be so hard to wait sometimes. I hear you. I feel that way, too.”