Esmé is making some great gains these days–I wrote about some of them last week–and, you know, it is just unbelievable to watch. I feel as if all the time these days I am wiping tears from my eyes and lifting my jaw off the floor.

Today one of these moments happened as I was bringing Esmé in from the car. I had unloaded the groceries and the thousand or so bags of Esmé’s things while she sat in the garage in her carseat. I need her to wait in the seat so I know she is safe while I’m running back and forth, but she does not want to sit in there any longer than necessary. So she complains whilst I carry on a conversation with her as I make trips to and from the car–letting her know where I am and what to expect…”two more trips Bezzy,” I say “Then I’m coming for you!” 

This is our routine.

I’m used to talking to myself in this way…I do it all of the time. But this time was different. Let me tell you about the conversation I just had with my daughter:

After unloading everything I headed to her saying, “Esmé, where are you?” [giggles] “Oh no! I think I forgot Ezzy somewhere!” [snort] “Oh, there you are Ezzy, Maman is going to bring you in with her now!” [rocks back and forth against the carseat straps] “I’m here. You know Mommy would never forget you!” [tries to push arms out of straps]

“Let’s go in and clean you up and then we will have a nap, ok?” I say as I lift Ez out of the carseat. She drops her little face into the crook of my neck, snuggling in…letting me know she is, in fact, tired.

I repeat myself, “You never have to worry, Maman will never, ever forget you.” She leans back and looks at me as we head into the house. I continue, “Because Maman loves you. She will always come for you.” We pass through the door, I turn and push the door to the almost closed position and say, “Ezzy, can you please close the door for me?” Her tiny little hand darts out and gently pushes the door all the way closed by herself. “Thank you,” I say.

Now, up until this point the conversation was pretty routine…me reassuring her that she need not get upset, telling her what is coming next, asking her to engage in the activity we are doing.

As I slip off my shoes, I say “Esmé, do you know that I love you?” Esmé nods (this is a whole body rock, momentarily threatening her balance in my arms). I say, “I love you more than anyone has loved anyone in the whole history of people loving people” as I lift my hand to her back to stabilize her. She looks at me so clearly, so steadily for a moment. I say, “Do you love Maman?”

She looks at me for a beat with the sweet look that I know says I love you, in the deepest heartfelt way. Then she opens her mouth and says, “Ah, d-d-d-dah, do.”

I do.

As I repeat the words back to her, “I do? Did you tell Maman ‘I do love you?'” she smiles big, her hands clasped at her chest.

Next came a string of sounds that I could not decipher…she may have been saying “No, silly, I was saying ‘let me down’ what is wrong with you?”

But I choose to believe that she said the thing I just know saw in her eyes: Yes, Maman, I said I do love you…and I am so, so proud tell you.

The day my non-verbal daughter spoke back to me, finally


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