Friday, October 1, 2010

A Mother's Wish

As a very new mom, I used to watch my baby boy, my firstborn, eager to see him reach every developmental milestone. I should have known something was up at the age when reaching and grasping was common and my son was not doing those things. I worried, but was calmed by the authority of the baby development books that assured nervous moms like me that not all babies reach the same milestones at the same time. Mine was obviously one of those. He did, in time, do all the things infants do as they grow into toddlers and then into preschoolers.

The one thing he did not do was talk. His pediatrician assured me that he was normal, that boys often lag in verbal skills and that he would catch up with his peers eventually.

Fast-forward ten years. My Bear Cub still struggles with language. It’s been a very long journey so far, fraught with difficulties. Much as I’ve wished it, there’s been no magic formula or instant cure for him. It’s been weekly speech therapy and countless hours of work.

But joy of joys, he’s catching up with his peers. Last week his speech therapist tested his receptive language skills and we were all astonished to discover that he scored above his own age group. Above! For once in my Bear Cub’s life he’s experiencing life like his peers. At least receptively (that is, what he understands rather than what he expresses). This week we tested his expressive language and any euphoria we had last week was doused by his scoring -- dismal. He scored at about half his age.

I often wonder if Bear Cub will ever experience the joy of books and reading like I do. I wonder if he’ll ever get lost between the pages, explore other worlds and other times presented in books. Will he ever know the magic? I can only pray he does. I cannot imagine life without books, without stories, without that connection that comes from reading.

We’ve got a long way to go on this journey with Bear Cub. With his language delays comes learning delays. He’s a hard worker, stubborn and thank God for it, because that kind of tenacity serves him well.

My deepest, most profound hopes for my child is that one day he’ll be able to express himself without difficulty, that the gate will open and that whatever he has inside himself will be allowed out with freely flowing words. And I wish for him the joy of reading, for a book is friend, ever patient for you to return to it, ever faithful in telling you its story.

I may be hoping for too much. The odds are against him ever becoming an avid reader. I’m the lone page-turner in our family. My husband is a voracious consumer of audio books, in fact, he “reads” more than I do. He’s dyslexic, but just as stubborn as Bear Cub, and his own tenacity got him through grad school and beyond. But when it comes to reading, he prefers to listen. So do my boys, and so I read to them constantly.

Still, there’s a part of me that hopes one day they’ll discover the magic of reading for themselves.


  1. Dear Susan,

    Oh... my heart goes out to him. But you know what? He _does_ experience the joy of books through reading them with you and listening to you read them.

    And, to a child, that's a very special gift. A parent who reads with and to them.


  2. Thank you Amarilis. We DO read all the time. I get as much pleasure out of it as they do because I love reading aloud.


  3. Susan, I, too, love reading to my kids. It's one of the great joys of being a parent, isn't it?

    Like Amarilis, my heart goes out to your son. His circumstance are vastly different, but my son # 2 also has issues with expressing himself. He suffered countless horrible ear infections as a baby and through toddlerhood, right at the time when kids really pick up language and communication skills by listening to speech and how the big people around them use it ... which he mostly couldn't hear. He's had to have speech therapy (and continues to do so to this day) to help him with a lisp, and to help him with organising his thoughts and words so he can actually explain how he's feeling, or what he's thinking. He's also not much of a reader, and prefers to have books read to him .. but every now and then I'll find him with a non-fiction book, usually about bugs or dinosaurs or space, and he'll be totally absorbed ...

    At then end of the day, your son still gets the pleasure of reading through you - and he is very lucky to have you. :-)

  4. Dear Susan and Rachel,
    How lucky your boys are that they have you to read to them! Not only do they get the joy of reading but they get to share that joy :-)

  5. Rachel, yes, reading to my children is a great pleasure. We love our story times! Your son is very fortunate to have a mom that loves to read to him. I hope someday he can speak his thoughts and ideas just as the rest of us do! Since our struggles with our son, I've developed a real empathy for kids with communication disorders. It must be a frustrating place to be -- walking in their shoes.



  6. Thank you Deniz! I read aloud to them during home school and again before bed. They can't get enough!