Lately, Janey has been asking me to read her books. Or if sometimes not exactly asking, at least listening willingly when I read her books. This is quite new. Her school has a reading contract due every Friday, where a parent has to write down four books they have read to their kids during the week. With William, years ago, this was very easy---I had usually about 50 books to choose from, and although Freddy wasn't quite as into books, we still certainly always read more than four in a week. I love to read to my kids. It's just about my favorite thing to do. But with Janey, although I always had read her the four, and almost always more, it often was more like me reading the book while she didn't listen and ran around the house. Now, though, she is sitting by me, listening and even often gesturing me to point to the words as I read. That just about freaks me out with happiness.
A few days ago, I was reading her the Lucy Cousins version of Noah's Ark. Lucy Cousins is the artist behind Maisy the Mouse, and I love her books. On a few of the pages, there is a big spread with pictures of all kinds of animals. When we got to that page, on impulse I started asking Janey to point to the animals. Well, she did. She pointed to every last one I asked for, and that included such animals as flamingos and scorpions. She pointed to them quickly and easily, eager, I think, for me to stop asking questions and just read.
When Janey does things like that, my emotions and thoughts run wild. I am very proud and happy, of course, but I also am frustrated. Janey obviously knows so much more than she lets on. WHY does she talk so little? Why can a day go by and you'd have no idea she knew such basics things as her brothers' names or any words beyond her few preferred ones? How can she knows what a lizard is, what a ladybug is, but never, let on?
I don't understand why Janey's speech is so restricted. She CAN talk---the fact that she can recite whole poems and, when push truly comes to shove and there is no way to get around and she really needs to ask, can she ask us by name for such foods as pickled cabbage and duck sauce? It seems like every new word she actually uses verbally without it being part of a recitation costs her dearly, and she needs to preserve her savings.
On my better days, Janey fascinates me. I wonder what it's like in her mind. I wonder how it feels to have all that knowledge floating around there and usually no way to get it out. But on my less better days, she breaks my heart. I know how frustrating her life must be, far more frustrating than it is to be me, on the outside, wishing I could get in and truly understand her.