Friday, 27 November 2009

Walking AND talking

So Jake said a word the other day. An actual, decipherable word. He said 'car' and we both heard it. Until now the only word has been 'mamamamama' and actually that's more of a half hum, half babble which is more likely to be him exploring his vocal chords than knowing he was talking to his mum.

Every morning, one of the rituals the missus and I have is to ask Jake where his aeroplanes are and sure enough he points to the hanging mobile above his cot and then we ask him where Babar is and he duly points to Babar the elephant hanging on the wall next to his cot. Babar is also flying a plane in that picture so we're doing our best to confuse the lad. We also have a picture near his changing mat of a car. He's known the words 'aeroplane' and 'Babar' for months but couldn't get 'car' until recently, and only then the ability to understand the word and point, but now he can say it. Well, he said it, technically he can't say it as he hasn't done it since, despite Clare and I asking him, in the customarily high pitched patronising tone 'can Jakey say car? Car, car, caa-aar' over and over again.

He'll get there, but I find myself really looking forward to having a conversation with him. Now he'll come over when I call him and he'll put his legs up when I want to get his trousers on but he can't talk back. One of our accounts' ladies bought her two-and-a-bit year old in on Tuesday and I had a full on conversation with him about, funnily enough, his cars. He was carrying a bag around full of toy cars from the film, erm, 'Cars' and we spent a good five minutes naming them and playing with them and he could answer my questions and everything. I really enjoyed it and it made me look forward to doing that with Jake. And that's really just a year away depending on the speech therapy thing.

Separately we got the Clapa newsletter through the day before last. I still don't know how I feel about it. On one hand it's good that they organise trips away for kids and parents affected by clefts and on the other hand why should they bother? Surgery is so good, you can barely notice a repaired cleft lip (as long as it was done in the last 10 or so years) so why make these kids out to be special? It worries me that a) perhaps Jake's lip is not as well repaired as I / we think it is as we see him every day or that b) he will be singled out for it at school even if it is just a small scar.

Either way I can't see why loads of kids need to get together to have fun knowing that they won't get bullied because they've all got the same thing. I just can't see that all kids with a repaired lip will suffer terribly because of it. Maybe that's incredibly naive and perhaps I have a different mentality but so be it. I got teased at school for having big ears and yes it was upsetting. I had a particularly short hair cut one day and the entire class laughed at me and made me cry (I was very young to be fair) and yes I remember that and it wasn't nice. Once I remember two boys putting their brief cases up either side of their head to represent my enormous Dumbo-esque lugs and that wasn't a great day either, but I got over it, I got good grades, have a happy family, plenty of friends, a good job and I reckon I'm an o.k bloke. It probably helped me in some way. I'm not advocating bullying and appreciate that in the extreme it can be very damaging but all kids will be picked on, teased a bit at some stage and bullies will eventually get found out in the real world. Most bullies were also the jocks and there was one in particular at my school and the teachers seemed to be scared of him as well. He would never get called up for the harassment he handed out, mainly because he was the biggest and strongest member of the first IX rugby team but he wouldn't bother me now. And afterall, he's probably breaking rocks or flipping hamburgers - he wasn't what you'd call, a reader.

Anyway, I think that Jake will be o.k and we'll teach him to stand up for himself or learn to tell jokes to win favour or rise above it and walk away. Some days he'll have a hard time which is nothing to do with having been born with a cleft and that will be just what he needs to learn how to get through life and he'll be absolutely fine.

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