As a proudly South African family, we are frequent users of the unmatchable “All Gold” tomato sauce. The other day, as I was dishing up the dinner; the events that followed are a good example of the individuality of each of my girls, the communication that is growing within our family and the reality of being a mom whilst having to deal with nagging.
Let me start by assuring you that things are anything but perfect and calm during dinner time in our home. Firstly, our dining room table is a small green plastic table perched in the middle of the kitchen. We all take our tiny pink chairs and find a spot around it. We had a standard dining room table before we moved, but only ever used it to gather clutter or to study at. Our cozy huddle in the kitchen works for us for now, and sticky rice, spilt yoghurt and mashed egg is far easier to clean off the kitchen floor’s tiles than the dining room’s carpet. Something that Graeme and I so look forward to, is the day that we can all sit civilized around a decent sized table (good thing we sold our last one as I’ve since discovered that a round table is a better option for deaf/HH families) on adult size chairs and without having to dodge missiles of broccoli!
On this particular evening, Tahlita started signing and trying to say “tomato sauce”. She signs it quite clearly, and certainly got the others going. Eden, now excited with the suggestion, energetically started signing “red” over and over, somewhat impatiently. The impatience for this family favourite was very contagious, and in no time, Hadassah was shouting out “Tomato sauce! Tomato sauce!” but simultaneously signing “yellow”. I overlooked her “yellow” add on, as she was pronouncing the words quite clearly. It was chaos in the kitchen as everyone was hungry…there was “tomato sauce” and “matosau” being shouted, and “tomato sauce”, “red” and “yellow” being signed all at once. As I was dolloping blobs of the red stuff onto each little plate, Hadassah’s frustration mounted and she started reversing into the kitchen cupboard. Frustrated by my futile attempt at meeting everyone’s needs, “I lost it” a bit. I went down to Hadassah’s level and shouted (and signed) “No! Stop that!” My little girl’s bottom lip began to quiver as a plump tear trickled down her rosy cheek. I’d messed up. I’d hurt her feelings. After satisfying the other two with plates of food, I scooped up my eldest princess and took her off to a quiet spot to apologize and try to figure out the problem. “Mamma’s sorry!” I said whilst signing my favourite sign, “sorry”. After hugs and kisses, I asked her what she wanted. Again she said, “tomato sauce” whilst signing “yellow”. Tomato sauce and yellow, mmmm… yellow tomato sauce – aah! MUSTARD! Dassie wants mustard NOT tomato sauce. I signed “yellow” back to her with a question on my face, and her eyes lit up immediately. That was the key, she wanted the yellow stuff that was like tomato sauce, and that was the best way that she could think of, to express her desire. Off we went down stairs to join the others and retrieve the mustard. Delighted with finally being understood, Hadassah sat down contented, and we were finally able to enjoy our meal.
These three are so different, they really are my greatest teachers on this journey! In the end, I was so proud of Hadassah’s persistence to help me understand her, even after I had hurt her feelings! I’ve since learned the sign for “mustard”, and I’m helping Dassie learn to say “mustard”. I read something recently that said something like, “be GENEROUS with saying ‘sorry’.” I think that’s good advice.