Since meeting Angel in June of 2009, I've often wondered if she's learned anything at all from her time with me. Most of the time I feel like I've completely failed her... That I've just been talking to a brick wall and that she doesn't listen to a word I say. But then, when I least expect it, she will do or say something and I know that she really has been listening!
It's the small things really... Things like when I overhear her saying something like "My mom said that..." and she repeats verbatim something that I told her. Or like little comments that she made while she was opening her baby shower gifts this weekend. She got some bibs, and she looked at me really excited and said, "Look mom! They have the plastic lining on the back!" I had made an offhanded comment about a month ago about how it's good to have bibs with the plastic lining so that you can keep them on teething babies, and the drool doesn't soak through and give them a rash. Any time she got a gift that I had said was on my "baby essential" list, she explained the purpose of the item to everyone there. I loved it! Just to know that she was paying attention and actually heard what I said was priceless!
I think the thing that I was most proud of this weekend was in hearing her say, "thank you" to so many people without any prompting from me. It seems like a small thing... Like what you teach a 2-year-old and just expect from someone older, but Angel had never said "thank you" to anyone in her life until she came to me. I remember the first time we talked about it was right after she had moved in, and my mom had bought her a CD player. She really didn't have much of a response when she got it, but after my mom had left, she was so excited and told me how no one had ever done anything like that for her before. I asked, "Well, did you thank her?" And she looked at me like the thought had never even occured to her.
As the months went on, I made sure that I thanked her for every little thing that she did. Every time, she looked surprised, and would smile and say, "you're welcome!" But she still never thought to say "thank you" herself. At one point, I made a comment about how it would be nice to hear a "thank you" every once in a while, and then she really started trying. She had a hard time at first. You could tell that it was a last minute thought, but she would say it. I would always get that same surprised expression and big smile that she would get and say "you're welcome!" just like she did.
This weekend, I realized that something that I taught her actually stayed with her. She thanked everyone who came to her shower individually more than once. She even said and wrote special "thank you's" to a few people who really helped with the shower on her own that night. Yes, it seems small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but I couldn't have been more proud of her. For a girl who had never said "thank you" in her life, it seems to come naturally now. And I know that's because of something that I taught her. I must have done something right! :-)