There has been a flutter of activity in our house lately. Literally. We’ve got birds. They make their way in and (usually when my husband isn’t home) we hear the familiar (yet always startling) flutter of wings frantically trying to fly their way through a window.
Lily used to love birds. Now when she hears a bird chirping she looks up with pleading eyes and says ‘no bird house’. Often before she lulls off to sleep she’ll open her eyes one last time and say ‘no’ while signing ‘bird’ as one last reassurance that she can drift into dreamland worry-free.
When her bird anxiety hits Lily leans in and emphatically says ‘no bird house’. To try and lighten the mood I have started following up with ‘but are there elephants in the basement?’ ‘I think I hear a cow watching TV!’ Lily smiles and in her exaggerated manner say ‘nooooo’ while keeping a keen eye on me to determine whether I’m just incredibly silly or she should be fleeing.
Her playfulness is such a great indicator of how far she has come since we began her speech therapy. It has also made me realize, as her often-muddled words come a mile a minute, how important context has become. The other day she said something with a look of both mischief and fear. I picked her up and the guessing game began. I finally asked if there was a sign that she had that would help mommy understand. She replied ‘yes’ with a smile and her trademark twinkle. No sign followed. I continued guessing and finally on my third sign request she signed ‘cow’. I laughed and said ‘No, Lily there’s no cow in the house!’ and with a giggle she followed up with ‘no bird house’.
Lily almost always signs bird as she says it. Although I will be proud, I will also be incredibly sad when the day comes that she says it without signing it as well. Like the disappearance of little toddler feet, it will be a small sign that my baby girl is growing up.