My son Jesse loves to imitate. He also likes to hear my husband do imitations. When Jesse was younger, one in particular that he wanted to hear over and over again was a line from the movie Coolhand Luke (which for the record, he has never watched- he’s only seven). Jason was always willing to play along because it made our son belly laugh so hard. I’m still not sure why, maybe it was the creepy voice.
“What we have here is, failure to commun-i-cate,” he would say, turning the words in his best southern drawl. The character in the movie, Captain, is a sleazy prison warden with a superiority complex. I’m both amused and cringe at my husband’s talent.
The irony behind the movie line is that Jesse has delayed speech. He was born with hypotonia (low muscle tone) which affects his speech, along with other developmental delays. He began speech therapy when he was 23 months old. There were only a handful of words he could say, and even then we had a difficult time understanding him. I taught him basic sign language words to get by, such as: water, help, sorry, eat, bathroom, please, and thank you. At least he would learn to be polite.
Part of the struggle besides helping Jesse’s language was figuring out how much he knew. I had no idea what was sticking and what wasn’t. Teaching him about the Bible and Jesus was just as important to me as learning self-help skills. But I didn’t know how to do this. How do I reach him? We can’t even communicate beyond basic survival words.
At some point I realized that God saw the work I was doing to train my son’s heart. He knows exactly what Jesse retains. All I’m called to do is to stay faithful and trust Him. The Lord takes care of the outcome.
I started singing children’s Bible songs complete with hand motions, playing worship music, and read to him very simple Bible stories. I’m not worried about whether he can memorize a catechism or multiple Scripture verses. It would be wonderful if he could learn these things one day, but for now we sing, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
Jesse will be eight next month. His speech has skyrocketed into sentences and even opinions! I believe he is learning more than I fully realize. But more than his current progress, I rest in confidence that the Lord has charge over my son’s heart. As a parent I’m learning my role as a shepherd. We can pray for our kids, disciple them, teach them our faith with words and by our example. But thankfully their salvation is not dependent on us. We have the privilege to join God’s work in communicating His eternal truths to our children. However simple or imperfect it may be, our Father can use our labors for their ultimate good and His Glory.
Grace upon grace,