My son Eric is a boy of few words.
This came as a complete shock to me since I come from a long line of talkers. It seems like all my friends and family members love to talk (often at the same time). My older son Paul began talking early and often and never stopped.
So when Eric came along I just figured he would speak up. That was not the case. First of all I could barely hear him over his older brother’s constant demands for my (waning) attention. While I hung on Paul’s every word (and before that, everything resembling a word), I had a hard time really listening to poor little Eric.
I am sad to say his needs went constantly unheard. While I remember pulling off the road to nurse my crying first-born, it was not uncommon to wake Eric from a much-needed nap in order to pick Paul up from school. Sorry, buddy.
I always understood him in a way that can only be described as a combination of love, context, and wishful thinking. I never doubted what he wanted. His grunting and pointing illustrated what he wanted. And he usually got it.
But he would not talk.
At his pre-school I begged them. “Make him use his words. Even if he is pointing at the desired item he needs to ask for it and say please.” This may be where he picked up: “MY TURN!” Followed by a (prompted) “Please.”
Little by little he began to speak. Loudly and incoherently. “Stop it that!”
I could not bring myself to correct him. “See you later, crocodile!”
Now he is four-years-old. His talking becomes clearer and clearer and I can finally get actual answers to my queries and ask him questions that require some thought. I feel like I am just beginning to get to know him now that he is expressing himself with actual words. He may never be as talkative as his brother but he gets his point across.
I may not always like what I hear but at least he is talking. And now I hear him.