learning to navigate the world, j-bear style


Something I said today to J’s speech therapist was “It’s amazing how people can manage to be ungrateful for what they have”.

I suppose we are all guilty of this. No, wait. I am willing to bet a princely sum that at times, we’ve definitely all had moments of this.

It was just a casual conversation I was overhearing while waiting for J’s appointment to start, a parent of a child J’s age being displeased that her son “talked like a baby” and constantly demanding he “stop using a baby voice”. Here I was, witnessing this, and from my side of the room all I saw were two boys of similar age, hers and my own, playing and being silly as small children do yet one was being told to speak more maturely.

Now, granted, apparently this little boy “can talk like a 20-year-old” but whatever. At that moment, he was being his age.

It hurt me, right in the heart. I wanted to take J away and hide forever from people like that. I wish I could have sheltered that little boy too. It’s cute and all when small children speak like little adults, don’t mistake me, but being demanded to do so is tough. It was the attitude being displayed that hurt the most though. It rang to me like me being smug about my son running while another mother sitting across from me wished, day and night, for her child to walk.

Yes, I know J talks. I understand him better than most anyone else, after all. But that’s the thing. His words are hit or miss. If you are not in one of his favored places… There’s a very low chance you’re going to hear much. It’s just how it is. He is always encouraged, always praised, always given incentive but he’s not there yet and that is okay. He will always be encouraged and supported in terms of communication, however his preferred method of communication shakes out, but damn.

It was like a bucket of cold water to my face, having all the things I fear for my son sitting right in front of me: the judgemental people, the ignorant people, all of it, right there being sharp with their own child.

What a day.

Despite this, and after two days of pretty remarkable meltdowns, I took J to Cracker Barrel tonight after he said “pancake” when asked what he wanted for dinner. And he ate three bites of pancake, one with syrup. I know a lot of people won’t get the reason that’s a big deal, but it is. This child does not try food lightly yet he took actual bites of pancake (he’s had it before once at school) and willingly dipped it in maple syrup, then ate that too! He drank his milk, he sat in his chair, and he behaved wonderfully. Every time the waitress came over he pointed at her tray, then waited expectantly. He thought every time she came by she had more mysterious stuff for him! Ha!

So, a success to end this post on.


  1. Anne rossetti

    Thank you for reminding me of what I need most in life – to be grateful. Its easy to envy others who seem to sail through life without a care – but that is the start of a very slippery dive downward. My husband was just treated for an aggressive form of prostate cancer; fortunately it had not spread to his lymph nodes. Someone said “you’re lucky that you caught it early” – I wanted to say “no, goddamn it, YOU’RE lucky because you never got it at all!” That thinking will only start t o bring me into my dark place. Thank you for helping me off the cliff with your post. Continue to feel the joy of life with your son. Don’t let the ignorance of others get into your head – then you would have let that woman hurt both you and her child. Don’t give her that power. Keep writing – seriously, a book!

    • Nicole

      How is your husband doing? That is terrifying stuff and I am very, very glad it did not spread. You’re one strong lady, Anne. Your husband and daughter and family are very lucky to have you 🙂

      The lady yesterday… I mean, clearly they’re dealing with something. Everyone who has a child at that clinic has a child dealing with SOMETHING, from the very big to the very moderate. I feel a little guilty like I discounted her story, which I do not know, but man. I watch another little boy regularly treated similarly and all I want to do is steal them away and let them come play in the snow in my kitchen sink a while or something. I feel it gets lost amid all this need to somehow treat and train these children that they need the right to just be kids sometimes too.

      I should have added this in the post but at the end of J’s session a slightly older boy was in the waiting room and he and J took up playing together like old friends. They’d never seen each other before to my knowledge but they both seemed to be on the same wavelength and played without a word spoken, just gestures and laughter. Kind of neat when that happens.

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