Sunday, January 12, 2014

Speaking without Words

Saturday morning, January 11th, started out just like all my other Saturdays. I woke up, wrestled with the kids and prepared to go grocery shopping. Most mom's might use this as a chance to leave the kids with dad and get out by themselves. Believe me I always plan it that way. I tell Jon every Friday night, "Tomorrow I'm not taking any of the kiddos with me, I'm just getting out of the house by myself" and he grins...knowing full well that plan will fall through.

Normally Bronco is the one I take. He can tend to be the most rambunctious at home and so I get him out of the house. Him and I always talk about what is on the grocery list, or whatever random thing he spots on the drive that is a MUST to add to our conversations. When I've taken Shelby she babbles incessantly, yelling "Whoa!" "Mommy look!" "Abby!" as she points to things out her window. Whatever kid comes with mom gets a little treat for the ride home.

This past Saturday I upset myself when I realized it had been a long time since Abigail had gone with me. Too long. I told Jon to get her dressed while I got ready so I could take her.

The car was so silent on the way. Honestly, for the first few minutes I thought I had not taken her. I quickly started to talk "with" her.

"Abigail, are you excited to go to the store with mommy?" No response.
"Mommy's excited that you're here" The silence grew.

I started squirming in my seat, slightly uncomfortable. I was so use to the other kids answering my questions with excitement, coming up with questions and comments of their own.

I felt bad. Not for me. I felt bad for Abigail. I felt that she was missing out on this adventure to the store with her mommy dearest. I peered back at her and couldn't tell if she was excited or not. It was crushing me.

We pulled into the parking lot and like every Saturday, with ever child, I said, "We're here! Are you ready to have fun?!"

I slid open the van to get Abby. As soon as she heard the door open her eyes lit up. She squealed in delight as she felt the cool wind pass her cheeks. "Outsi, Outsi" she kept repeating.

"Yes, we're outside. Do you feel the wind?" I answered back.

She threw her head back and giggled loudly. Once we got close to the store she even tried to get down and walk. The sound of passing cars scared her back into my arms.

As we walked through every isle Abigail squealed loudly, testing the size of the store. For those of you who haven't heard Abigail's squeals just wait until you hear a screamer on the 4th of July. Abby uses her squeals as echolocation to decipher the size of a room.

At one point I finally got her interested in playing with a few boxes of jello. A mom, with a boy that seemed Abby's age turned into the isle we were in. He was letting out squeals and his mother was desperately trying to quiet him. Once Abigail heard him she must of thought he was challenging her. Immediately she let out her own squeal, causing my ears to ring and the other mother to flinch. Her son retorted with a squeal of his own, in what seemed 100's of octaves lower than Abigail's.

He looked at his mom and said, "Whoa mom, she's really loud!" She replied, "and you thought you were the loudest screamer." I explained to the mom and her 4 year old son that Abigail was blind and she squealed like that to feel hear how big a place was. The mom said, "Echolocation, that's really cool". We chit chatted about it as Abby and her boy continued to have a show down. The little boy sighed and sunk his head.

"She's just so good at it. I'm not THAT loud. She wins mom. She can't see so she has super powers. I don't have super powers." Both moms laughed. It was obvious in Abby's grin that she knew she had won.

On the way out of the store Abigail got to pick her treat (which she refused to share with mom) and we drove home. I reached back before we pulled out of the parking lot and squeezed her hand.

"Mommy had lots of fun with you today Abigail, I love you." She squealed in delight, patted my hand and dove straight in her treat.

She had thoroughly enjoyed her day out with Mom. She didn't have to use words to tell me. She used her smile, laughter and tender touch to let me know she was glad I took her along. We drove home in a silent understanding that no words can describe.


Being a parent to a non-verbal child can be trying at times. Only because you don't know how to help. The worst situation for me is when she can't tell me she's hurt, sick, hungry or sad. I feel helpless trying to decipher her upset cries. There are 3 words that Abigail cannot say to me. 3 words Bronco says out of the blue on a regular basis, 3 words Shelby says before nap and bedtime; I LOVE YOU. I can honestly say that I haven't missed those words from her.

The light in Abigail's eyes when she hugs us, the kisses that she only gives to mommy, how she calms instantly once she's in my arms are all ways she says, "I love you". The phrase, "actions speak louder than words" always seemed redundant to me. It wasn't until we had Abby that I understood a different meaning of those words.

What Abigail has to say, she says best in actions and those actions speak volumes for how she feels.

I keep thinking about the little boy at the grocery store who innocently said, "She can't see so she has super powers". She really does, she has many super powers; the ability to "see" with her ears, voice and hands. Her biggest super power is the ability to speak without words. And in many ways I am blessed because of that. I know one day she'll finally learn to use words and she'll talk non-stop and I'll gratefully sit back and listen to every word...


Mrs Lee


  1. Abby's super powers have brought tears to my eyes. I worked with these wonderful children like Abby for 10 years. I always knew each smile, each hug, and each touch was a genuine gift from them. I am now blessed again by knowing each one has super powers. Thank you for bringing another smile to my heart.

  2. Abby has taught me so much by what she sees with her ears! I love her with all my heart. He future is full of possibilities! Great blog LeAndra!