Savannah was an early talker, but more impressively, an early reader. I’m certain I wrote it in my obsessive list of Savannah’s accomplishments, but my memory only places it around very, very early. I am certain, however, that it was at Super Target, during a time when we lived in a dingy apartment. We had one car we divided between us, so errands were run in the evening, after a day of baby care and a sleepless night. I was exhausted and spent, trying to pinch pennies and calculate coupons. Savannah sat in the basket listening to me ramble, describing everything around us, everything in the cart, everything we needed and couldn’t afford.
“Bay-bee!” Savannah interrupted.
“What are you saying?” I asked, the way any parent would It is the automatic relex that kicks in even when you’re half asleep. It replies and encourages without demanding any thought on the parent’s part.
“Bay-bee!” Savannah demanded thought. She reached and squirmed in the basket for an object behind me. I began to back the cart up to find the interesting object, to stop the squirming. We weren’t close to toys, and I found my curiosity piquing. Then she snatched it, dragging it off the hook and into her chubby little hands. It was a small black purse with a chain shoulder strap, a chain draping across the front and silver charm letters which hung ever few links: B-A-B-Y
Months later, while looking through a Clifford book at Barnes and Noble, waiting for the weekly story time, it happened again. Whle I read the words circling around Emily Elizabeth, Savannah yells “Ahh-Choooo!” They were the letters arching over Clifford’s sneeze on the next page, blowing the fall leaves in his path.
A few months later, it happened again, with a most annoying book about busy bees. The book hummed the bzzzzzz of the bees with each page turned. She opened the book to the first page, “Biz-beez. Biz-beez.”
And then it stopped.
It has been years since those spontaneous readings. It was a skill she lost after losing speech. A skill that gave us hope her speech would return, until it was gone as well. Now, she has a closet full of purses. Pink, purple, black with fur. Yellow, blue and green quilted. Velcro-able with PECS, knitted and woven, laced and lined with glitter and sequins. What she doesn’t have, is the ability to read B-A-B-Y.