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.