…of a home nursing visit with a little girl I’ll call Ella.
Ella is two. She is totally non-verbal, because of some special connections in her brain that just don’t work quite right.
But Ella can say more than most two year olds can–without using a single word.
Ella is one of those little girls with a mischievous twinkle in her eye. She loves nothing better than hearing stories about herself. She laughs uproariously when she is happy, and claps her hands over her ears and furrows her little brow deep when she is mad. She runs around the house with abandon, not looking where she is going. I’ll never know how she has ever avoided a serious head injury. Some days when I come, she is smiling and lifts up her hands, wanting me to pick her up and cuddle her. Other days, she scoots behind her toys and looks at me with a totally fake shyness. Our favorite thing is for her to sit on my lap and play with my hands–move the fingers, clap them together, and repeat.
Recently, I went to see Ella:
9:35 am: Kristi picks up Ella from off the floor and holds her, so that she can listen to Ella’s heart and lungs. Ella scoots off Kristi’s lap and giggles.
9:36 am: Kristi talks with Ella’s mom while she tries to capture the squiggling Ella.
9:38 am: Kristi has had success in getting Ella back in to “listening” range. She tells Ella that she is going to listen to her breathing.
9:39 am: Ella is not breathing loud enough for Kristi to hear through her shirt. Kristi tells Ella to take a deep breath. Kristi demonstrates this skill. Ella’s mom demonstrates this skill. Kristi and Ella’s mom nearly hyperventilate trying to get the point across. Ella gets a twinkle in her eye….
9:41 (and 15 seconds) am: After multiple, repeated, probably-look-ridiculous-to-anyone-watching attempts to communicate that Ella is to take a deep breath, Kristi attempts listening again. Ella giggles. Then–silence.
9:41 (and thirty seconds) am: At this point Ella has abandoned all thoughts of compliance…and continues to hold her breath. As a result, Kristi cannot hear a thing can just about hear Ella laughing on the inside…and mom can see the mischievous trouble in Ella’s eyes.
9:42: Ella can no longer hold her breath…or her laughter. Kristi is able to obtain all needed information while Ella inhales to laugh.
On another occasion, I visited Ella’s house because she wasn’t feeling well. I picked her up off the floor….
6:15 pm: Kristi picks up Ella. Ella’s mom tells Kristi all about how Ella has been vomiting and not eating much today. Kristi and Ella’s mom joke yet again about how Kristi has, as of yet, avoided the product of Ella’s rather impromptu, frequent, and unexpected bouts of throwing up.
6:24 pm: Ella’s mom continues to tell Kristi about how Ella is doing. Ella is playing with Kristi’s hands, smiling and nodding with big, sweeping head movements–as she always does when she hears stories about herself.
6:25 pm: Ella hiccoughs. And promptly vomits all over Kristi’s jeans and sweater.
6:26 pm: Ella, glitter in her eye, laughs. Not just a little, under-her-breath giggle, here, friends. We are talking laughter.
Coincidence? I think not. And, of course, as a nurse who would never condone such acting out of behavior, I promptly burst into fits of laughing along with Ella’s mom solomnly cleaned up Ella and myself.
Oh, the joy that children bring…and how we underestimate them. May we always have the eyes to see them as Jesus does–and may we be touched by their ever-abundant joy!