Persistence and Patience

Chloe is a Never Give Up kind of kid in many ways!  Here’s an old journal entry showing one way she doesn’t give up.  She doesn’t give up on Mom!  This entry is dated September 11, 2005.

“My mom can’t ‘hear’ me.”  I think these are Chloe’s thoughts sometimes.  She must think it is truly a physical disability or limitation, for she never seems frustrated or impatient about it.  She is full of grace and patience for me.

Since 3 and a half-year-old Chloe is nonverbal, she depends on sign language as her primary form of communication.  She knows and uses more than 60 signs.  I usually have no trouble interpreting her gestures.  However, there were two times when I’m sure Chloe had decided that her mom had a disability or that her mom just wasn’t getting it.

For several weeks every time we visited my mom’s house, Chloe would energetically sign “turtle” (one hand cupped over her other hand like the shell over the turtle) for the first several minutes of our visit.  Now and then I wondered if she was trying to sign “clock” instead (tapping the pointer finger of one hand on the opposite wrist where her watch would be).  But neither of these signs made much sense to me in the context of arriving at my mom’s house.

She fairly quickly managed to let us know that she was talking about a video.  But after scouring my mom’s video cabinet, I found no videos about turtles or clocks.

Each time when we arrived at my mom’s house, both my mom and I would acknowledge Chloe’s signing.  “Turtle?  Okay, let’s watch a video, Chloe,”  we would say, shrugging our shoulders to each other.

Then Chloe started signing “turtle” at home in reference to our TV and at therapy in reference to their TV.  I acknowledged, “Turtle,” each time.

One day at home when Chloe signed “turtle” in our hallway it finally struck me —  “Watch!!”  She was signing “watch.”  Not “turtle”, not “clock,” but “watch.”  The verb!  She wanted to “watch” a video!

I’m sure she was relieved that Mom finally figured it out.  How much plainer could it have been?

Another similar story happened every time I put Chloe in her car seat.  She would look me in the eyes and put her little fists to her eyes.  That’s the hand motion she would do to “Wheels on the Bus” during the verse about the babies.  “The babies on the bus go wah, wah, wah . . . .”  I thought it was random and interesting that she wanted to sing that song every time she got in the car.  And it was strange for her to start on that verse.  At other times she always started at the beginning of the song.

As with the turtle/watch sign, every time she signed, “The babies on the bus go wah, wah, wah,” I repeated it, acknowledged it, or sang it, all the while a little confused by it.  I would buckle her up and then put Mr. Owl in her lap so she could play while we drove.  She loved Mr. Owl since he sings the ABC song when you press his arm.

This “babies on the bus” thing continued for two or three weeks.  At times as I buckled her in, she would sign “A” which she does when she wants to talk about letters or sing the ABCs.  But mostly she would sign, “The babies on the bus.”  What a mystery!

Well, bless her little persistent heart.  I finally realized one day that she never meant to sign, “Babies on the bus,” when we were getting in the car.  She was signing, “Owl” — “Mr. Owl!”  Mr. Owl, the toy I put in her lap every time I buckled her up.  There was nothing random or mysterious.  It was just a simple request for Mr. Owl.  And sometimes attempting to help me understand, she signed, “A” since Mr. Owl sings the ABC song.

Who had taught her to sign “Owl?”  Me.  In what context had I taught her the sign?  Mr. Owl.  Seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it?

I hear just fine.  I’m not sure Chloe believes it.  But she sure is patient with me.  She didn’t give up on me after signing “watch” twenty times.  She didn’t lose heart after signing “owl” a hundred times.  In fact, she tried to reach me another way a hundred more times.

Is there a lesson there for me?  Ya think?

Although Chloe’s facial muscles don’t allow her face to turn up into much of a smile, I’m pretty sure she was beaming a great big smile at Mom for finally getting it.  Nothing against turtles, clocks, or babies on buses, but Chloe just wanted to watch a video and play with Mr. Owl!

Chloe and I have had similar situations several times since then!  She continues to be patient with me, and she continues to try other ways to explain to me what it is she’s saying.  I think her trying other ways to reach me is a smart thing for her to do, but I also think it’s a kind, loving thing to do.  She has hope and faith and confidence in me that I’ll eventually get it.

A lesson there for me?  For us?  I think so!


5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Randi on October 30, 2009 at 11:59 PM


    I love this blog about Chloe. I have so much to learn.

    Love you.


  2. Posted by April on November 2, 2009 at 12:08 AM

    Thanks for saying HI! What an amazing family you have! I’ve enjoyed peeking at your blog!


  3. Posted by Lisa on November 9, 2009 at 1:46 AM


    I am touched by these stories of your everyday life. Chloe stories, Zach stories, Elliot stories….and I am amazed at your ability to stand in the grace of God and “mama” your bessings.

    You have inspired me.



  4. Kelly.. … just recently been searching for the ‘right’ blogs to follow and after reading your posts know without a doubt that I’ll be checking in on yours often. Thank you for sharing bits of your life. You truly are an inspiration.


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