Everyone can read a baby’s signals right? Even a very new mother has an instinct to tell her when her child needs food or changing or cuddling. It is a natural response to loving your child, learning your child and getting to know them. We learn to read their non-verbal language, their body language along with their cries and coos.
1 Corinthians 14:9-11 (NIRV) says:
It’s the same with you. You must speak words that people understand. If you don’t, no one will know what you are saying. You will just be speaking into the air.
It is true that there are all kinds of languages in the world. And they all have meaning. But if I don’t understand what someone is saying, I am a stranger to that person. And that person is a stranger to me.
Thankfully, Cayden was not a stranger to me, nor I him. We learned to speak the same language, the one C could manage. It was a combined language of body and voice, similar to that of an infant.
Cayden really was an excellent communicator. I never had a problem reading him. His face was very good at showing what he was feeling. And his body was a big help too. He was very consistent in his body language over the years. His pout was outstanding at showing his dismay. His smile was fabulous at sharing his joy. His slither & wiggle were clear enough to show that he was unhappy in a position or hold. His vocalizations were always typical cries, whines and whimpers. Deaf children usually can vocalize and Cayden was no different. He tried to talk, even though he couldn’t hear. He copied our lips & cooed.
Here is Cayden’s ‘I’m so Happy!” language. Hands up, big open mouth smile, back arched. If he was on the couch, he was sliding off, he would be so wiggly. Squeals of glee always accompanied this pose.
As well as Cayden could communicate his joy, he could communicate his frustration or anger. We don’t have as many pictures of that, but here are a few that capture his pouty lip. Can you read what he is thinking?
One example of how good Cayden and I had become at communication happened when he was a little over 3 years old. We were in the process of moving, and were painting the new house before we moved in. We were working in his new empty room, painting it white. So we were chatting about how fun it was going to be to have this new pretty room, in this new bright house, and Cayden started getting all upset and squirmy. So I asked him, ‘Don’t you want to move? Don’t you like this room?’ and he fussed and carried on, obviously he didn’t like it! Then I said, ‘Well, you know, we will move all your toys and your new car bedding and your bed and your curtains and pictures and put them into this room. We won’t leave it like this.’ At that, his attitude completely changed. He brightened, smiled, and started cooing in the way that he did. Then, it was all good. He, at 3, thought that he was going to have an empty plain room, because that is how it was right then. Once I explained that his things were coming soon, then his fears were relieved and he could settle in and enjoy it.
Another funny story is when we were visiting his grandparents in Florida. His grandfather had just had knee surgery, so he was not walking very well, and needed to use a walker. Anytime Cayden saw his big, 6’5″ grandpa walking around the house with his walker, he just busted out in giggles. Lispy little, rib tickling giggles. He just was so humored by his grandpa needing to use a walker like him, that he couldn’t quit giggling. The resulting laughter by the rest of us, would then put him over the edge. A super sweet memory.
Before Cayden died, I could tell he was starting to get frustrated with his non-compliant body. He would enviously watch his little sister run and jump and talk non-stop. He would squirm and wriggle to get out of his wheelchair, sometimes almost sliding out if he wasn’t belted in. He wanted to run, to play to dance, and all our efforts to help him, just were not satisfying him anymore. I was doing my best trying to get him to walk in his walker, to move freely in his power wheelchair, but it was not the same as being a normal walking, talking, running four year old boy.
One time in particular is seared into my memory. The kids had just had a bath, and as two-years olds will do, Skylar was running wet & naked around the house, giggling wildly as she ran. Cayden squirmed & wriggled in my arms, looking at Skylar & waving his arms. So, in a moment of clarity, I realized… ‘Cayden never has a chance to do that, to be a kid, naked and running thru the house, feeling the cold air on his wet skin.’ So what did we do? I put his feet on my feet, and dropped the towel & ran with him around the house, chasing Skylar for all my might. He giggled so hard at being so free, so childlike, so playful. Those are the moments that I remember, the ear-to-ear smiles at a silly, silly time. (Sorry no pictures of that… I was too busy having fun!)
Cayden loved his mama,his daddy, his sister, and his dogs. He loved swinging wildly, and eating chocolate. He loved being in church and dancing or bouncing to the praise songs, the louder & more vibrating the better. He disliked being in pain, being uncomfortable and being unable to be understood. He was a bit of a manipulator, and he tried really hard to get his way, like any child will. But his spirit was sweet, he enjoyed life, and his smile could light up a room. He communicated just fine, without any words at all.