Reagan is starting to talk more.
It. Is. Amazing.
She’s six, and has just starting stringing multiple words together. This is something we (collectively, my family and anyone else who has prayed) have prayed diligently for, for over five years. Have you ever wanted something so badly you didn’t think you would be able to breathe until it happened? For our family, this is that thing.
The other day I was blow drying my hair and she came up to me and said, “What are you doing?” I’m blow drying my hair, child. You know what I’m doing. The bigger picture is that she initiated the conversation. She wants to talk and she’ll tell me “I want to talk, Mommy.”
She told us that she wanted a basketball and told Rob she wants to play basketball with him. I never want to forget this moment in time because it’s an active miracle displaying in front of us.
Things Reagan says:
“I play basketball after school.”
“I play basketball, it’s easy.”
“I no dance anymore. I dance a long time. Three years, Mommy.”
“I want to change after school, and go to playground.”
“I want to play with Kelly. I want a sleepover at Kelly’s.”
“I had P.E. today, not art.”
“I’m not your girlfriend.”
“I no have school today, it’s Saturday. Daddy no work on Saturday.”
“Sunday is church.”
“Tuesday is speech.”
“Go away, Mommy.”
She’s also coined some cute nicknames for us; I’m “Mommy Dolly” and Rob is “Daddy Chicken” she says he “bok boks all daaaaay”.
Speech. If you have it, you likely take it for granted. Being able to have your thoughts heard through your own expression, and even making those you’re with laugh, is one of the greatest ways we have to connect with one another. And Reagan is just starting to explore that. But it didn’t come out of the blue. She’s put in the work.
I was curious as to how much work, so I got some data from a few of Reagan’s speech therapists. Reagan has had speech therapy since she came home from the hospital at 14 months old. For five years we have belabored everything that has to do with feeding, textures, oral motor skills and the ability to move your tongue from side to side, up and down, strengthening all her muscles and teaching them to work together. The amount of coordination that you don’t even think about in order to say a word like “think” is seriously above my pay grade. We worked on saying “I want” for six months. We’ve worked on saying the ‘F’ sound for six months, not saying the word ‘F’ making that sound and the placement of your mouth, lips and teeth to do so.
Reagan just started whispering and that’s been years in the making.
Five years. 19.5 days. 467 hours. 2 hours a week. 28,020 minutes.
I love love love hearing things like: “She’s talking now! You can understand her!” But when we are asked, “What did you guys do?” That’s a question that has so many puzzle pieces to it.
In a nutshell, we did one moment at a time and tried to follow the path God placed before us as best as possible. We didn’t execute our moments flawlessly. We moved what felt like an inch a day, and many days we collapsed at the end, even good days. And all that focus added up to 28,020 minutes of hard work for two specific goals: talking and eating.
I recently finished a book called Pound the Stone. The premise is that the path to mastery doesn’t just happen, it takes constant work and grit, and on your way to whatever goal you want to achieve, it will often feel like what you’re doing isn’t even making a difference. In the opening, it talks about a stone worker hammering away at a rock, 100 times without as much as a crack showing in it. But at the 101st hit, the rock splits in two. It wasn’t that the last hit was more magical than all the others before it, it was because of the 100 previous hits that it was able to open on the 101st. Small things matter. Ordinary things matter. Inches matter, it’s why they are measured in football; inches always mean a future milestone.
Here’s a glimpse at the hard work Reagan puts in at speech therapy.
On the surface, it doesn’t look like much and it’s certainly not finessed, smooth talking. It looks like a lot of work, it doesn’t look fun and it for sure isn’t what Reagan wants to do after a full day of school. But, this is the hard work that only a handful of people see and understand, and these moments in a little 8×8 therapy room, are the inches we are taking toward our big milestone goals. I’m so proud of Reagan and everyone who is gritting it out on the path with us.