I want to introduce you to someone. This is Elmer, my son. He is 4 and a complete Momma’s boy. He is rough and tough. He is rambunctious. He is funny, silly, and a complete goof. He is smart, kind, and has an amazing memory. He also has a speech delay. Elmer is a fast talker, excitable. So, sometimes, he is in such a rush that he leaves off the ends of words. Some words are tougher for him than others, but he never gives up. As his mother it exhausts me, but not in the way you think.
I see the looks people give him in public, those questioning eyes like there is something wrong with him. I notice as we wait in line and he is trying to tell anyone who will listen about his new teddy bear he picked out, and they glance at him but never acknowledge. I see the confusion in his large hazel eyes when people look to me and ask what he said. I fell his frustration when he is asked a question and answers but is asked to repeat himself 20 times. The left out feeling when he is skipped over while other kids are asked their favorite color. He would tell you blue, this week anyway. I can see when he gives up, so he just whines and acts out, that is something he knows will be understood. I sit through the preschool parent teacher conference as the teacher giggles at the fact that the other kids joke that Elmer speaks a different language. Being told Elmer only knows 1 shape and a couple colors, both I know is incorrect, they just do not understand him. I’ve cried myself to sleep worrying about him, or if I didn’t work with him enough. I’m constantly explaining to even family that I can not always be the translator, they have to try, he will show you if you cant understand.
But his speech delay does not define him. Because I see the Elmer most miss out on when they dismiss him so early. I see his kindness, breaking a candy bar in half to share. When asking for a treating, asking for 2 so he can take one to his sister Rylee. I get to see the little boy who cuddles with me as he tells me Im his best friend and how much he misses his sissy while she is at school, and how he misses daddy when he is at work. The little boy who says he always will protect me. The little boy who says hi to any stranger no matter who they are. The little boy who lights up when you get him a toy from dollar tree. He will meet you at the door with a excited smile and a big hug when you come home from the gym. He loves to tell you stories, currently his favorite is the three little pigs. But most of all he is the boy who will surprise you! He may not say “milk” correctly but he can tell Spiderman’s real name. He may not call you by your name but he will always call you “my friend”. This Elmer, a sweet, kind, larger than life preschooler. Take the time to listen to him, he may teach you something, but he will for sure bring you joy and a smile!
Do not judge people for something they may be suffering with. Rather it be a disability, a mental illness, a deformity, or even their social class. People have more to them than you may know. This is Elmer’s story, though I know others may have it worse, so many have stories like this, this just shows you that there is more than what you see or hear on the surface. This holiday season, lets choose to be kind, to get to know someone, to learn their heart. Life is sweeter that way.
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