She is a funny little thing. Quiet but exploding with personality. Loving but reticent to show love. Mary Aplin is a wonderful mystery.
For a long time (as in the first several years of her life) we thought she didn’t like us very much. Most little kids thrive on their parent’s praise, that’s how you potty train, or would chose to discipline, right? Tell a child to do something and then cheer like mad when they do what you’ve asked… …Not Mary Aplin. If, at 2, Mary Aplin went to the bathroom on the potty and I jumped up and down and did my signature potty dance (you really should ask me to show it to you the next time I see you ;)), then she would grunt at me (quite literally grunt), turn away and refuse to use the potty the next time. Praise embarrasses her and makes her uncomfortable. Just toss her an M&M and don’t say a word. That was how we finally learned to use the potty, anyway.
If you ask her for something–like a kiss–she will come at you with her head in head-butt position, so swiftly that you will worry she is going to bust your lip, and offer her forehead to your lips. Once she has made contact, don’t try to hold her, she will squirm away as quickly as possible, seemingly frustrated that she gave in to your request for affection.
You can see why we wondered if our child even liked us? However, despite all the little things Mary Aplin would do to hide her feelings, there was always a spark in her eyes that kept us hanging on. Something that said she was grateful for the praise, even though it embarrassed her. Something that said she loved us so deep, that she was uncomfortable to show it. And now, with all the maturation of a girl who turned 6 three days ago, she has learned to let a little of her love out on others–and us.
At what will seem to me the most random of times, she will run at me in head-butt position, ram her head into my belly, nuzzle and squeeze me and tell me she loves me. She has to have her face hidden in my stomach to say the actual words, but then she pulls back and smiles so big that it makes me cry. I told Jeremiah recently that I think she is our most loving child. So filled with love that she is overwhelmed by it.
Good luck to the man who will one day try to win her heart. I hope you like head butts.
Mary Aplin has also struggled with speech her whole life. She started going to a therapist at 2 and is still seeing one now. I haven’t talked about it on here, because it seemed like one of those personal decisions that Mary Aplin couldn’t make for herself–whether or not to share. Now, however, she seems very comfortable with the fact that she goes to speech. She LOVES to go to speech, actually, so it’s hard for me to imagine that her adult self would mind me sharing with you–at least a little.
Mary Aplin’s speech problem was severe enough that until last year (at 5), I had never heard her say a complete sentence on her own without being coached. It was heart breaking. I know it has contributed greatly to her quirky personality. She was intimidated to try to say anything, so she learned to express volumes of things with her eyes and mannerisms. I think that’s why she is one of the most photogenic kids I know–she pours out everything through her eyes.
Because she could not talk, Jeremiah and I had no idea how much she knew. We labored hard over whether or not to send her to the same private school where we decided to send Pace. Not wanting to separate them, wanting to offer her the same opportunities we were offering her sister, but terrified she would not be able to handle the rigors of the school and heart-broken over the idea of that affecting her confidence.
Y’all, I’ve cried with thankfulness and relief and joy at every teacher conference I have been to for this child. To discover that she has not only been “making it”, but that she is smart. Really smart. And confident and talks–at school and to her teachers. She has breezed through so far, and it has astonished me. I know I haven’t shared the journey, so you can’t know what a miracle this is, but it is a miracle. And while her speech is almost normal now (except for a lateral lisp she is still working on), she and I are both able to laugh when she gets her words all jumbled up from time to time. It is terrifying to remember that there was a time when I wondered if I would ever be able to hear all that was going on behind her dancing eyes.
I love this little chicken wing–all her personality and spunk, all her courage and fortitude, all her love and shyness, all her beauty and reticence. She is our Dapples.