Monday, April 21, 2014

Testimonies, Firecrackers, and "Home-Signs"


Tyson has been using big words lately for a 6-year-old.  We giggle when he expresses himself sometimes, and he is aware that sometimes his vocabulary is above and beyond.  He asked us the other day, "Seriously! What 1st grader do you know who uses the word vomit, mediocre, and pristine?"


Tonight we were having a Family Home Evening Lesson on testimonies.  Mitch started out the lesson by singing our "I Know He Lives" song from the Easter Pageant - we were all out of made me laugh.... And then he asked questions as an attention getter:

"What do you call it when you share something that you know that is true with other people? Things that are right?"
Tyson was thinking really hard and responded, "Accuracy?"
Correct principles and truth ARE "accurate" things, but the word we were going for was TESTIMONY!

This lesson was spot on for our little family.  Tyson likes to share his testimony in family night in the way it comes to him, which is usually through deep analogies, such as comparing testimony and faith to thriving & dying plants or boats with holes on the ocean.  These comparisons usually come with multiple layers and conceptual angles, and then he wants to share them in church, but when he sees the crowd during fast and testimony meeting, he freezes up and he can't remember all the pieces to what he was trying to say. The one time he went to the pulpit about a year and a half ago, he started talking in the microphone and his mind went blank when he saw all the people, so I had to help coach him by walking over to him and he's been afraid to go back ever since.  He's only 6 years old, so it's okay that he's not yet ready to go back in front of the congregation, but at the same time, we're trying to teach him that it's okay to share a simple testimony, too. Mitch shared a little movie clip about how Brigham Young's testimony started not by hearing a man using fancy words, but by a man who spoke simply and without eloquence.  To paraphrase, he said in that moment his personal knowledge, education, and experiences bowed to the truth that was spoken simply by the Spirit.  I adore the way Tyson analyzes and speaks with advanced thoughts - he is an old soul in a little body, and I don't think it's bad thing that he thinks in analogies.  But I also hope that he will grow in confidence by realizing it's okay to take baby steps - eventually when he is no longer afraid of speaking in front of many people, that he will be able to express himself in the way he wants to.

Emmett is a little dramatic sometimes.  Last week he was purposely keeping his friends from going into the back yard.  He explained, "Don't go out there!  There are bugs that can kill you!"
"Emmett, there aren't any bugs out there that can kill you."
"Yes there are!"
"Like what?"
Today Emmett was watching a cartoon.  When I saw my Grandmother doing laundry, and I decided to pause the cartoon and I asked Emmett if he could quickly help Grandma carry some laundry.  Emmett is the kind of kid who has to have the idea in order for it to be a good one, and helping with laundry was NOT his idea.  So instead of helping for 10 seconds, he was sad for an hour and a half as he resisted doing this chore, because of course he wasn't allowed to watch the program again until he was a helper.  As he sat next to me in the office pouting until he was ready to help, Mitch called for something and heard what was happening, so he asked to speak to Emmett.  I almost died laughing when Emmett explained his motives to my husband over the phone: "But Dad!  I just want to do something, except for something LAME!"  The irony is that I think sitting on an office chair and whining is LAME.  Eventually he realized that, too, and decided to be a helper.  I think he's learned a lesson, because he's been a very helpful boy the rest of the day, and he's been cheerful, too.  The family adage my dad always told my brother comes to my mind: "When you mind, you're happy;  when you don't mind, you're sad."  I guess I'm turning into my parents, because I'm definitely going to teach that phrase to my kiddos.
My mom says Emmett is a lot like my brother Heber, who was also very strong willed as a kid.  I personally remember Heber sitting with a sad face at the dinner table for over an hour because he refused to take that last bite of carrots in order to get his donut....  I THINK my parents and Heber both compromised eventually...I'm pretty sure he gagged the carrots down WITH a bite of donut.  But I'll never forget the image of a cute, round-faced, red-head, sitting at the end of the table in the "breakfast nook" bay window area.  He was stubborn, but Heber has turned out to be pretty darn awesome, so I know there's hope for my strong-willed children.  I believe they are powerful little souls couped up in these tiny little bodies - it's HARD to learn how to obey parents and how to deal with emotions, but I feel like Emmett came off as a champion just took a lot more patience and effort on my part than I realized it would.  
My parents probably just hear these stories and laugh - someday Emmett is going to get his own little firecracker to love and cherish, and I will probably giggle, too. 
During family night, Miles liked that we were singing the "I Know He Lives" song from the Easter Pageant.  After Mitch's lesson, he asked a question about testimonies, and Miles responded by raising his left arm up in the way we do at the end of the Easter Pageant.  "Uaaaiiiiiiuuugh" he said and smiled at us looking to see if we understood what he meant with those great big eyes and searching eyebrows.  He's so cute!   I believe he really did recognize that song and the way he felt went exactly with what Mitch was talking about.  I love that Miles shared his own little testimony tonight. 
He can say some words and letter sounds clearly.  He's been asking me all day to do starfall with him.  He doesn't call it "starfall", he just says the letter he wants to do until I give in.  "R....r......r......r?"  Or sometimes he says the v sound:  "Vvv....vvvv.....vvvv?"  His other favorite letter is W.  He can't say "double - u", but he can say "whu".  And then he spends the rest of his time trying to communicate by signing and talking.  Mitch is always asking me things like, "He's hitting his fist on his elbow.  Does that mean something?"  Yep, it means cracker.  Of course. Even though I'm the household signing "expert", there are some things I don't know the sign for, like vitamin.  So Miles has made up his own sign for that.  It looks like a combination of the sign for "green" and the sign for "movie" because he keeps his other 3 fingers up and shakes it in the same way.  I went and did a google search that brought me to the Signing Savvy website - it's a free online dictionary that shows signs for words you look up.  I found the sign for vitamin and showed Miles, but when he smiled and signed back, it became apparent that "Green Movie" is how it's going to be in our house for a while.  Some of my deaf friends have told me about "home signs"...I guess we're experiencing first hand what that really is.  I never thought I'd understand this concept with a hearing child who has a speech-delay.  It's ironic, it's funny, and it's an adventure to communicate with our darling Miles. 
We bought a large container of dinosaur vitamins from Costco.  If you look inside the container, it's mostly full of orange and red ones.  That's because the other kids only like the gummy kind and Miles ONLY eats the PURPLE vitamins - one purple dinosaur every day and he asks for it with a smile and his "green movie" home-sign.  *Sigh*  NO WONDER Mitch is having a hard time picking up sign language! 
It's impossible to keep up with this kind of craziness!