Monday, July 12, 2010

Baby Whispering

My husband and daughter call me "The Baby Whisperer," because my superpower is the ability to make all babies love me.  Really that's not true.  My real talent is the ability to love all babies.  Babies just recognize this and respond in kind.

I am always respectful -- I'm not a grabber, toucher, or kisser of babies I don't know.  But I am irresistibly drawn to make eye contact, smile, and play a game of peek-a-boo.  Since I have the great good fortune to work with young children (0 to 3 years) who have special needs and their families, my baby whispering skills are a great asset to me on the job.

Baby whispering isn't enough, though.  Parent whispering is often the skill I need even more.  Lucky for me, I have a heart to love parents too.  I am in a very privileged and delicate position, entering (intruding into?) a home, a family.  I often wonder how they can bear it; sometimes emotions are so raw and close to the surface.

One gorgeous little boy (M) has so many physical, cognitive, and medical needs that no less than 6 different therapists/care providers come into his home each week.  By the time I arrive on Friday mornings, I can tell Mommy and Daddy are exhausted.  

Last Friday it was obvious that they were distraught over their latest bad news.  They've already been through so much.  I fought my instinct to smooth it all over with optimistic cheer and just listened with all my heart.  I didn't agree or disagree as they talked for a couple of hours.  I tried to keep my expression neutral and not insult them with pity. 

Not for the first time, I tried to imagine what it is like to expect and plan for a new baby, only to relinquish cherished dreams over and over again as first one, then another and another obstacle is placed in your sweet boy's path.  And still find a way to hope; talk about grace under pressure.

I'm not saying that these (or any) parents are paragons or any such saccharine sentimentality.  But I do believe that it takes a special talent to find dignity, humor, and hope in the face of such continued opposition.

That is a real superpower.  M's parents have such gallant optimism about the future because they have a talent for love.  I am grateful to witness and be part of their love for sweet M.  The trick is that we see and value all of M -- not just focus on the disability.

M has worth all on his own whether or not he does the same things the same way other children his age do.  Not everybody gets that -- but I am lucky to see it.  M's parents and I made a list of all the things we love about him:
  • liquid brown eyes with long, long lashes
  • all boy!  He loves motorcycles and will turn his head whenever he hears one on the street
  • dimples when he smiles
  • the way he totally relaxes against my chest when we're reading Good Night Moon
  • a fighter!  He does not like to roll from tummy to back and lets me know.
  • the way he gurgles and smiles when his brother's new puppy licks his hand
  • He spits out his sweet potatoes just like my daughter used to.
  • Until Daddy says, "All right now, M.  Is that manners?" with that stern daddy voice.
  • He's a football fan.  M shows real pleasure watching the big game with daddy, brother, and cousins.
  • No one else will do but Mommy when he wakes in the night.  (a blessing and a curse!)
  • If he is fussy anytime, he will instantly calm when Mommy sings "Sleep Baby."  Just her voice across the room ("I'm coming, Honey!") is often enough to make him content.
  • Big brother plays too rough with M...and M loves it!  Like that time he took him outside to play in the sprinkler...

Well, the real list is way longer than this, but I am already more in love with M than ever just looking at these few things.  What more could any little boy be than M already is?

Happy birthday, Special Boy!  Today you make two, a real milestone.   I'm wearing black and gold for your favorite team.


  1. Oh that is such a priviledge and so beautiful to read what you share.

    Thank you.

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  3. You said..."The trick is that we see and value all of M -- not just focus on the disability."

    That's the ultimate start. What a beautiful post Angelle. I would love to read more about your baby whispering.

  4. Merci, Salma and Spice. I am very privileged -- and don't take it for granted. I did something and removed my earlier comment.. and possibly Aunt Pitty Pat's?


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