Rhema has a Family ID program at school. I got myself all worked up when she first started this program.
She is presented with 3 pictures – one of Hope, one of her Dad, and one of me. And her teacher says, “Rhema, touch Dad.”
It started with full prompts. Her teacher would guide Rhema’s hand to the picture of Dad. Over time the prompts faded to a touch at the elbow.
And now, after a year and a half of working on this every day at school, Rhema can do it independently!!!
At her IEP meeting last week, we were told that she has even said our names when she touches the pictures. Brandon and I could hardly believe this.
We have yet to see it with our own eyes, hear it with our ears. But after the meeting I was “super excited”, as Hope would say.
Rhema’s never called my name. She’s never called me anything. If she ever did, well, then I missed it. And I’ve kind of been on the look-out for it for 7 years. So I don’t think I missed it.
But Rhema has progressed so much in terms of language that – with a little work – we can get her to repeat just about any 1 or 2-syllable word. Yes. HUGE!
So I thought, I’ll teach her my name! What should I have her call me? Hhhhhmmmm.
Mom? That’s a nice, short, one-syllable word. And that’s what they use at school.
But my mother was not crazy about “Mom.” She preferred we call her “Mommy”. Because “Mom” made her feel old. And then in 7th grade I started taking Latin and decided to call my mother “Mater.” (And I still do to this day. “Salve, Mater,” I say. She loves it. I think.)
My mother called her mother “Mama.” While I like calling myself Mama in writing, it’s a little too country for me in the real world.
Similarly, Brandon calls his mother “Ma.” Yeah. Not happening. This ain’t Little House on the Prairie.
So after much contemplation, I led Rhema to her room and stood her in front of me. I gripped her shoulders, gazed into her eyes. It was a historic moment.
“Rhema,” I said. “I’m… Mommy!”
And then I fell down laughing. (My kid must think I’ve finally lost all my marbles).
I got myself together.
“Rhema. Say ‘Mommy.’”
I needed reinforcements.
I pulled out a popsicle.
“Rhema. Say ‘Mommy.’”
“Noooo. That’s my Dad.”
“Oh. Pop. You want pop?”
I gave her the popsicle.
But I did not give up.
Finally, later that night,
I don’t know if she was congested or just had trouble with the sounds or what. And she always says words at least twice in a row.
But, friends, I proudly give you my new name.