Between the Speak for Yourself case, the genetics stuff, and AAC/assistive technology stuff, I've spoken with a bizarre number of reporters in the past few months. Talking with press people is not something that I enjoy, because I'm actually a pretty private person. I know, that might not make much sense, considering that I blog and share my thoughts and pictures and whatever---but here, I control the information. If there's something that I'm not ready to talk about, I wait a few months. I get to paint experiences the way that I see them, rather than just answering questions and hoping that someone else sees our reality the same way that I do. They also ask some weird questions.
Recently I was speaking to a reporter (and I honestly can't remember who it was or where they were from) who asked me to tell her a bit about Maya. I gave my standard Maya adjectives: she is stubborn, sneaky, and really funny. As a follow-up question she asked, "If she can't talk, how can you tell that she's funny?"
Slightly abrasive phrasing aside, I understood what she meant. It must be hard for people with talking kids to understand how we are able to know so much about her, and understand her fairly well, with almost no spoken words. Being able to talk offers a kind of laziness, I think. It's so easy to communicate that you drop off on the other nonverbal observations that you would otherwise be hyper-in-tune to. I can see the exact second that Maya's eyes start to glint mischieviously, and I know that something funny (or naughty, or both) is coming.
One of her favorite jokes right now is about brushing her teeth. Each night Dave gets her dressed for bed, gives her medicine, etc., and then I come to brush her teeth. She used to call me when they were ready . . . Mama! One night she said Daddy instead of Mama and started to laugh and laugh. Dave and I acted very offended and tickled her and she thought it was the best joke ever. Now every night he says "Call Mommy to brush your teeth" and she yells, through hysterical laugher, Daddy! This kid cracks me up.
Two days ago she was eating breakfast and babbling on the talker (she turns all of the words on and just moves through the screens exploring, so what she's "saying" doesn't really make sense, but she learns where new words are). I was doing some dishes and packing her lunch, when suddenly I heard "Fuzzy Navel" . . . which, of course, caused me to burst out laughing. You don't expect to hear a cocktail order from your 4 yr old before school on a random Wednesday. When she saw me laugh and realized that she had done something funny, she laughed, and then said: Fuzzy Navel. Funny. Fuzzy Navel. Fuzzy Navel."
So then I had to write a note to the new teacher explaining why my child might come to school saying "fuzzy navel" all day.
(We didn't program that in, by the way. It's one of the 11,000 words that's pre-programmed.)
Here she was last night after dinner. She's clearly a bit tired, but has turned all of her words on and is exploring. Dave and I were both in the kitchen, when she decided to try to make us laugh. (Don't turn your volume up too loud, I get a little supersonic and don't want to blast your ears out)
I don't know, it seems pretty easy to me to tell that she's funny, regardless of whether she can talk or not . . . don't you think?