She sits behind, Nikki, gently bending her joint-less arms as Nikki becomes part of our conversation. Nikki loves me apparently, and wants to have some sweeties for dinner! Nikki is Tahlita’s special teddy bear, she got her when she was just a few weeks old, and since then, they’ve been inseparable. Well, we’ve had to set some restrictions. Nikki is generally not allowed to leave our house, and if she does, she has to wait in the car, as losing Nikki would be a loss suffered by all of us! She is now rather tatty, and her hip has needed repair several times by me (as the doctor!) whilst the little bear’s mother looks on in agony. Nikki is cuddled and loved beyond description, and is tenderly signed to. Signed phrases like “Mamma Tahlita loves you,” and “You are beautiful,“ are just a few that this beloved bear is very familiar with. I remember playing with my dolls and teddies. I’d have long conversations with them and play games, and often they’d need to share their thoughts through me to other family members and friends. They were part of the family, so needed to communicate with the family. The dolls in the Birdsey household are no different. They babble and chatter, and have been doing this for the past three or so years now, and are much loved members of our family. But Nikki, as well as a few other particularly loved creatures, has started to sign. Little rounded digit-less paws are no limitation. No-no, my girls are becoming experts at expressing the subtlest of details with a relatively stiff, stuffed arm. The facial expressions involved, especially to indicate intensity, are reflected on the faces of whoever is playing with them at the time. Full conversations are happening between Tahlita’s Nikki and Hadassah’s Benjamin, and just the other day, Nikki was telling off Benjamin for something or other whilst enthusiastically hitting behind her oversized fluffy ears to sign that he was being very ‘naughty’.
Its’ wonderful to see them play as typical four year olds and incredible to see the play, as I’ve experienced it as a child, be adapted to meet their needs. It’s also quite a strange experience in some ways, to see my children model something as fundamental as play, quite differently to what I know as familiar.
Tahlita in particular is also starting to ‘play’ with her language itself. She gets great pleasure in overly exaggerating a particular sign to uniquely put her point across and engage with her own quirky sense of humour. She had us all in stitches the other day when she was relaying back a story of a sick looking fish that we had noticed in the tank at a local shop. We know the sign for “sick” to be shown by using one middle finger to touch your forehead whilst the other hand’s middle finger touches your abdominal area simultaneously. Tahlita was relaying the story of this floating fish with such enthusiasm, that she knocked herself over from the intensity of her signing. Well, Eden thought that this was hysterical, and since I now have a little video clip of this story on my cell phone, I use it to brighten up the mood of my toddler who has now hit the “terrible-twos”, whenever I’m feeling desperate.
I guess these little developments are the very things that ‘enjoying the ride’ of this journey is all about. It’s so easy to get swept up into focusing on the future goals and mull over some of the bigger decisions that we face. These little details almost seemed too minor to share, but these are the things that colour each day. These are the little fragrant ‘roses’ planted along my journey for me to enjoy. For me to notice, pause and breathe in slowly. Reminders that my girls are different, yes, AND extraordinary, funny and unique!