Friday, August 28, 2009

My Niece, the Communicator

Meet Evalyn - my absolutely spoiled-to-the-hilt niece who, despite the fact that no words come out of her mouth, keeps the household marching to her tune and lets everyone know the way things are (and aren't!) going to be.

The Stats:
Age: three years, two months, and 12 days old
Weight: 17-18 pounds
Height: not quite sure
Special factor: she has cerebral palsy
Education: two weeks, three days into preschool
Informal education: being a part of the Wise family for three years, two months and 12 days

Evalyn's wish is our command. And by 'our' I mean everyone who is in a ten-foot diameter of her at any given time. It could be her desire for you to look at her, to speak to her, to get away from her, to pick her up, hand her to her mom, come closer, walk further away....if she knows what she wants she's going to communicate it to you. Somehow, someway.

Her forms of communication vary but she's got a few commands through hand signals, tongue signals and noises that we all recognize.

Tongue out of the mouth/to the Side, Hands Partially Raised:
This is just a warning signal that she's getting irritated. She'll turn her head all the way to the left, stick her tongue out and start squawking. Usually, a change of position or acknowledging her will bring a smile and she'll be good.

Eyes wide/hands flung out, shaking/voice elevated
You're screwed if it gets to this point. She can go from zero to 60 in about, uh, two seconds. One minute she's fine, the next she is PISSED. Usually this is because you've had the audacity to a) leave her in her chair or 2) not responded to her signal of wanting attention. There will be no tears in this stage but even after you pick her up, there will be many sniffles (among the smiles!) to remind you that you should really always just listen to her the first time.

Evalyn loves to smile. That's her main form of communication when it comes to expressing her pleasure over something. Even when she's sad, if you talk to her and tell her good things, she will give you a teary-eyed smile.

Poochy Lip:
The poochy lip used to be for everything that she didn't like but with her other communicative signals, she reserves the poochy lip just for the most serious offenses that really hurt her feelings. Things like: when Mommy is trying to type on the computer while holding her with the other hand, when Mommy tries to do anything that doesn't involve 100% attention devoted to her. But mostly when she wants everyone in her vicinity to look at her, that's when she'll whip out the poochy lip. Who can resist that?!

Since she started school, Evalyn has taken to gut-wrenching laughter/near hysteria. And in true form, it mostly has to do when people get hurt (this is where her informal education comes into play!) Our closest friends aren't surprised at this recent development of Evalyn's humor - they all just look at us and say, "She has your dimented humor!" And it's true. Her teacher told us on Monday that one of the little kids grabbed the teacher's aide's foot and almost tripped her. No one else laughed but...Evalyn, who thought it was hilarious. And when we were sitting at the dinner table one night last week and Katie said "penis" you'd have thought she'd just told the funniest joke EVER. The funny part was that Evalyn was the only one who laughed at it but then when we started laughing because she was laughing, she just carried on. That moment was probably her most three-year-old moment yet.

Though words don't come out, Evalyn will concentrate so hard on forming her lips to make sounds come out when she's trying to tell us something. Usually, she does this when she's been away from one of us or when something important has happened. The last time she did this for me was yesterday when I had to pick her up from school because of a poochy lip episode that her teachers couldn't get her out of. By the time I got to the school, she was fine and she even started laughing when I put her in her carseat. On the way home, she told me her version of the story. But I still contend that she has every single teacher right where she wants them - in the vortex of her every whim. Basically, she just didn't want to be at school and figured the best way to get picked up was to poochy lip it the whole time until we were called. It worked.

Dirty Looks:
If there were a queen or a princess of dirty looks, Evalyn would be stiff competition. If you piss her off to the point that she deems it necessary you get a dirty look, I can only hope that you fall within her good graces soon. Boy, she'll wrinkle those eyebrows and cut her eyes over at you and then look away. You can feel your heart-hairs being singed.

Pre-falling out of bed cry:
Mind you, Evalyn is mostly immobile and I say "mostly" because for whatever reason, she can wriggle her way out of her bed and onto the bean bag by her bed. She never moves that much, I swear. Now she has a special cry she customized just for the moment where her legs are hanging over her six-inch high bed and she's ready to tumble to the bean bag but she wants you to run in and save her. She just developed that in the last week or so.

There isn't much this kid doesn't understand. She'll be throwing a huge fit while sitting in her chair or laying on the floor. AS SOON as you say, "Evaly, do you want me to pick you up?" she stops. I mean, STOPS. And if you ask her to, she'll hold her hands out to you.

So, those are, in some form or another, Evalyn's forms of communication. With all those, is there really a need for her to talk?

But after her third day of school, her teacher, teacher's aide and a classmate told Katie that Evalyn said, "Hi" that day at school.

A-mazing. I can't wait to hear more of that voice.

1 comment:

randy said...

Hey Holly, thanks for sharing about Evalyn.