Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Letters to Eliana

We are not communicating very well, my darling.

I wonder what you are thinking, when you pull on my leg to follow, streaming words that mean something only to you. I come, and together we look, but I cannot tell what you are meaning.

This gibberish, this Eliana-speak, had us in stitches when it began. Your expressions were so vivid that we imagined we knew what you were saying, and so responded with, "Oh, really?" One day, our van erupted in laughter when Micah, from the back seat, mimicked your sounds perfectly. You sat in astonished quiet, as if thinking, "That's what I said!"

Here and there, I catch a word...nana (banana)...mum (more)...Daa-ee (Daddy)...Mama...shooooo (shoe)...

I am so thankful for the signs that you know. They have helped us to avoid more melt-downs than we ever could imagine, I think. A line of gibberish will be followed by an exasperated sign for "bird", and I know you are telling me you've seen one of the robins playing in our yard. Some Eliana-speak with a question mark at the end will be followed by an impatient sign for "more", and I quickly move to feed you the anticipated bite.

But later, I remove your clothes down to your diaper when you beg me with nonsense and point to your tummy. Could it be that a cracker piece slipped down your dress and into your diaper, and it is hurting you? If you are in pain, and can only communicate with crying when I have not understood you, we both collapse to the ground in tears.

Why is it that this Mama cannot understand you better? It hurts my heart to see your green eyes peering into mine, so hopeful, so trusting, and to know that I have no idea what you just said. I say, "Show me, precious!" and you take me to your toy box. We stand together and gaze for a moment, then I kneel and begin pulling out books, dolls, anything. "This? Or this?" When the moment ends with a distraction, or you settle for a book, I know we still have not really communicated. Perhaps your intention was for Mama to find something for you to do, but still I long to know for sure.

There are moments that you settle into my lap and we read a book together. You point, I affirm, and we are communicating. You rub your cheek, your own special sign for "Lovey", and I know you are sleepy. You come wailing and running, holding your head, and I know you got a bonk, and a kiss will do nicely. You stand at the pantry, patting your elbow, and I know it is snack time, and a graham cracker is the favored choice.

I think that now you are longing to really talk to us. You want to join in on the conversations we share laughingly around the table, to whisper into Daddy's ear the way I do. And when you do try, then our response of "Oh, really?" is not enough. You want to be understood.

I am sorry, Eliana, that we are at this in-between stage. I know one day you will be speaking in clear, long sentences, and I will remember this baby girl who spouted nonsense, and tacked on a question mark at the end for good measure.

But until then, let us communicate in the age-old way.

I will reach for you, and pull you to the ground for a tumble. We will rock back and forth, laughing and screeching, tickling each other's necks. I will chase you around the kitchen and into the living room, delighting in the squeals that say clearly, "I hope she catches me!" I will listen and understand your sharp intake of air when I ask if you want to help Mama clean, for I know it means "Yes!" You will hold your arms up as I stir a pot in the kitchen, and I will scoop you into one arm and stir with the other, and we'll "talk" about what is for dinner. I will read you a story as you suck your thumb, your head leaning into the crook of my neck. I will sing your special song before bed and when you hold out your hand, I will take it, and pray over you and the night.

I am so thankful that you have a Father who understands every word, every thought. He even understands what you cannot phrase into words; he knows your heart.

Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O LORD. (Psalm 139:4)

He is much better at communicating with you than I. But in the meantime, I will be His arms.

I hold you. And you are loved.


28 fellow travelers shared:

Joel and Jaime said...

You have me nearly in tears! I understand this feeling so well. Eli is just reaching this stage. He looks at me with hopeful eyes, gives me a whole long string of gibberish, and then it's my job to figure out what he wants!
You have summed it up so beautifully, as usual! Thank you :)

Maxine said...

Elise, this was such a precious letter. Before you know it, you'll have a little chatterbox who'll be telling you EVERYTHING she wants you to know and MORE than you want to know!:) It's my prayer for her and for you that the two of you have a sweet and lasting friendship where she tells much of what's in her heart. What a blessing that will be for her--and for you.
Such a cute picture of the two of you.

Amy said...

Oh,yes...in between stages. Right now, I am in a good stage with both boys as far as communication (relatively speaking) but I sure remember where you are!

Lovely letter, Elise. Like you said before, it is the everyday graces that keep us afloat.

Love, Amy

laura said...

Elise- i am in that same stage with my 19 month old, Sarah Jane- i found myself today getting so frustrated that i don't understand everything she says (sometimes i don't understand ANYthing she says) soon the jibberish will end and the questions will begin. i long for that day, but embrace the innocence that these girls have at this time in their lives. thanks for sharing this post. i am really enjoying your blog.

Alycia said...

Elise, What a beautiful letter to your sweet daughter. Hannah is slowly moving out of this stage, but I so clearly understand her frustrations. I love the innocence and humor we all enjoy because of our Hannah. Thank you also for the sweet posts on my blog ~ you are so kind.

Blessings today!

Stacy said...

Oh, how I remember well this stage with Isaias. It can be so frustrating! Mark and I would turn to each other and say aloud, "Won't it be nice when he learns to talk to us?"
And now he's talking up a storm and we think, "Where'd our little baby boy go?" :(
Love you, Elise!

Andrea said...

Isn't that great?
He knows our heart.

I know this same feeling right now, Elise. So for now, if I don't understand....we just hug and hold.

And I love the way you've expressed the *other* ways of communication with your dear daughter.

Beka said...

Such beautiful and loving words. Your daughter is so blessed to have you as her mother!
And yes, praise God that He understands even what we cannot express in words.

Tami Boesiger said...

This is a beautiful letter. What a wonderful way to capture where you are right now with your daughter and express your love at the same time. Wow.

Audrey said...

Ah, these girls, such different little beings.

She looks alot like her daddy doesnt she.

EEEEMommy said...

Once again I appreciate these letters. As my baby is now 4 1/2, they bring back such fond memories.

Thanks for your godly encouragement and prayers for our family after the accident. I appreciate you!

Are you in Utah yet? What's the status with finding a new house?


Cindi said...

Oh what a lovely picture of you two! You have such a lovely way with words. You brought back vivid memories of when my children were little. They grow up so quick, but even then words are not always enough. Sometimes you don't understand them even when they speak. Then I just keep hugging.

Grafted Branch @ Restoring the Years said...

Have no concern, Elise...as long as she sees you *trying* to listen, she will continue to *try* to make herself understood--even into the double digits and beyond...

Beverly said...

How precious!! I know that even though you aren't able to understand Eliana sometimes, she feels your love and your desire. I love the new pictures you've posted. Eliana and her momma look so delighted with each other, and daddy and his little brood were having loads of fun, weren't they? Mr S and I long for the day when we can hold conversations with Selena. Oh, these precious stages ... each one too short, it seems!

Munchkin Land said...

Oh, yes, toddler-speak. We are there right now too. It's so tough; I can see how badly she wants to communicate with us and how hard she tries. *Sigh* And I could instantly empathize with the distractions you pull because we do the same things.

Love the picture of you two and the new button. Precious...

Christine said...

We're in the same stage. You describe it so beautifully!

Tracy said...

As always, you write a beautiful letter to your daughter. I remember that stage so well.

BTW, I changed my profile pic for you! :0) See, your opinion matters!

Joy@Joy in the Journey said...

Thank you Elise, for sharing this with us. I think we have all been there, are there, or will be there as mothers...and it is SO good to remember that it is just a stage. I love to see how you LOVE your daughter!

Me said...

I will chase you around the kitchen and into the living room, delighting in the squeals that say clearly, "I hope she catches me!"


I love the photo of the two of you...

tonia said...

My baby girl has grown into a "tall-as-me" girl now, but I still echo your heart cry in the letter...wanting to understand what she is trying to say behind the words and adolescent frustration. It is so easy to be impatient, to not peer beneath the surface and search for the heart.

Thanks, Elise for the reminder.

Julie said...

What a beautiful letter... and beautiful words!

Sarah said...

My Chloe, almost one, is now throwing BIG fits when we don't understand what she wants. She knows the sign for milk, and we're working on more signs, but boy if we don't get it, she throws herself on the floor and screams. Don't we, even as adults, feel that same way sometimes when we don't feel heard or understood! We are throwing ourselves on the floor and screaming inside. But isn't it comforting to know that we ARE understood, even better than we understand ourselves, by our Father. Perseverance my friend, this too shall pass.
Love, Sarah

TaunaLen said...

Oh Elise. My heart has been so tired this week, with parenting my teenagers, especially the two daughters (20 and 17). I love them madly, and we are close, but sometimes their choices break my heart. This week was especially tough. I needed to remember that they are still longing to be heard and understood. I pray that God will help me hear AND understand them. Your words are beautiful as always. Thank you.


Anonymous said...

I am dealing with the exact same thing with Ethan. He gets so excited and animated when we go places and I can tell he's trying to tell me everything he sees. Sometimes he just gives me a funny look when I am trying to understand. I love your letter. You are a wonderful writer.
Love, Amy

Mrs Wibbs said...

I can so relate to this as I am going through a very similar stage with both my yougest children (Thomas who is 4 1/2, has Down Syndrome and who uses a lot of signs, and Ben who is 2 and a bit). It is so frustrating, especially when you think you've cracked their 'code', only to realise soon after that you were wrong, or that one particular 'word' actually has more than the one meaning - or two - which you thought it had! And like you, my only lifeline is the knowledge that the Lord knows exactly what they need and is watching over them, an infinitely better parent than I will ever be!
You have such a lovely way of putting your feelings into words; these letters are really delightful, and I look forward to many more :)

Anonymous said...

I always love your precious letters to Eliana. Your loving heart toward your daughter is always very evident. These will certainly be treasures in her hands. I love that you will hold her with your arms in the meantime. What a sweet relationship is brewing between the two of you. :0)

(P.S. You asked how I've been feeling . . . pretty good! Thought I'd share while here.)

Roberta said...

Very sweet letter.
My youngest, 19 months, talks ALOT...in his own language. He signs "please" and motions "come" and takes my hand to lead me. But other than Momma, the rest is pretty much a mystery...and passionately expressed.
Our first 3 talked in sentences by now, I'm thinking God must be teaching me something.

henryteachers said...

This in between stage for our babies is so hard when they are trying to communicate and we're trying to understand. What a sweet momma you are. I love these letters you write for Eliana. She is a sweetheart! Enjoy your weekend and your time with your husband again who will be home after camping. .
:) Mindy

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