Perhaps I should be doing these the way you did yours. One big volume. But at the same time, I can't go through my memories like that. My mind is a jumbled up mess when it comes to this stuff. And weren't you the one who said take it one thing at a time?
...I'm defending myself and trying to justify things. I know it.
This morning, our conversation inspired me to write a little bit more. Maybe that's why I do it in bits. You help by prompting me on what memory I should take out next and examine.
"Interesting," you said, after you'd finished reading. You set down the PADD and looked at me, your expression pleasant, but unreadable.
"Which part?" I asked.
"All of it."
I sighed. You started to grin just a little bit in that way that either infuriates me or delights me. I was starting to feel the former. "I gave you detailed feedback on your memoirs," I said, realizing that I sounded like a petulant child, but I couldn't help myself. It had been particularly difficult to write that, as short as it was, and all you could say was "interesting" and smile at me?
Your expression didn't change, but your tone of voice did. "Tell me more about communication, and how you learned to do so verbally," you said. As soon as I opened my mouth, you held up a hand to stop me, and then pointed to the PADD. "Not right this moment, my dear. Take your time with it."
So you had realized how difficult it was. My face heated up and I felt inexplicably embarrassed, and I tried to turn the subject to the upcoming tennis game I'd be playing against Dax in a few days.
I'm grateful that you humored me, Elim. Honestly, the change of subject allowed me to calm down and examine things again later, when I sat down to try to write this next bit.
As I said before, I didn't talk much as a child. I communicated well enough that my needs were met. Attaching words to concepts was difficult for me. It's hard to explain it without giving examples, so I'll give one to illustrate just what I mean by it.
It was spring. Now, Earth's weather is dictated by the control net in the atmosphere. It keeps things like tornadoes, flash flooding and electrical storms to a minimum. But they're also set to mimic nature to a degree. This is to say that - depending on the local climate of course - it’s windy in the spring, and thunderstorms still occur, though you needn’t worry about getting struck by lightning.
I was not a fan of thunderstorms. Loud noises hurt my ears, and the vibrations that I could feel through my body set me on edge.
One day, when I was outside playing with Kukalaka, a typical spring thundershower began to roll in, abbreviating our outside adventure. It was preceded by a bright flash of light, followed by a loud boom, and then rain began to fall.
Rain didn't bother me, but the noise and the light did. It disoriented me. I had no time to react to it. I dropped Kukalaka on to the ground and clapped my hands over my ears and closed my eyes tight against the next one. When it didn't happen, I cautiously removed hands and opened my eyes, just in time for another flash of lightning. The thunder that followed wasn't as loud as the first clap, but it was loud enough that I covered my ears again. The next clap of thunder was muted, but deep enough that I was feeling it reverberate throughout my body. I knelt down on the ground, my hands over my ears and pressed my forehead into the soft grass, making a loud humming noise. With my hands over my ears, I could feel my own voice inside my chest, echoing through my head. It helped to counteract the external sound and vibration that was distressing me so much.
Of course, in this position, I couldn't hear Mum calling me to come in, or hear her approach. I panicked when she picked me up, flailing wildly. Fortunately, Mum was used to this sort of thing, and did us both a service of holding me tightly so that I couldn't hurt myself or her in the process.
Once we were inside, I realized that my companion was still out in the rain. Mum set me down to dry me off, and I immediately made a beeline for the door, intent on going out to retrieve him. Another peal of thunder stopped me dead at the door.
"You don't want to go out into that weather, Jules," Mum said, trying to reassure me. "Come here, let me dry you off."
I shook my head emphatically as she held the towel up, and pointed at the door, wincing as thunder sounded again. I put my hands up on either side of my head, making circular shapes with my fingers. Another reverberating boom, and I hummed loudly.
Mum looked at me and then looked outside. "Stay here," she said, putting the towel around my shoulders, and went out bravely into the storm. I watched from the back door, wrapping the towel closer around me and humming louder every time it thundered. She returned only moments later with a somewhat sodden Kukalaka in her hands. I tried to take him from her, but she held him out of my reach. "No," she said, ignoring my loud shriek of dismay. "He needs a bath. So do you."
For some reason, this made sense to me. But I still needed to confirm with Kukalaka that it was necessary. "Mummy," I said in that serious tone of voice only four year olds can muster, and gestured at her to lower Kukalaka a little. I wasn't going to grab him, but I had to make sure that the bath was required for Kukalaka too.
(...this is making me feel a little ridiculous, Elim.)
Once I confirmed that my bear was indeed in a state that deemed cleaning, I was completely fine with the concept.
After the bath (and Kukalaka's adventure through the cleaning processor,) my mother sat me down in our living room, and pointed at the bear. "Teddy bear," she said firmly.
I had difficulties with attaching words to objects at that point in my life. I knew basic things like Mummy, Daddy, Jules, bath, food, bed, play, sleep. Kukalaka to me was 'plush/fuzzy/round ears' which I could communicate with gestures.
I looked at her totally bewildered. She pointed at the bear again. "Teddy bear."
She wanted me to attach a word to him.
I looked at the bear, and then back at her. "Teddy bear," she said again.
I'd heard the label applied to Kukalaka before. But I had other stuffed animals, including another bear, which also got this label. Teddy bear was not very specific. I continued to stare at my mother silently, while she attempted to coax me into calling him "teddy bear."
"Show me Jules," she said.
I pointed to myself.
"Show me Mummy."
I pointed to her.
"Now, show me teddy bear."
I don't know how long we went at this. It was repetition, over and over. If my mother got frustrated, she didn't show it. It went on long enough that my father had come home. I didn't even notice him until he asked what we were doing.
My mother explained that she was attempting to teach me more vocabulary, and how it seemed to be going no where. My father looked at me for a moment and then he smiled. "You're Jules," he said. "Right?"
Well, I couldn't well deny this fact, so I didn't.
"Who is this?" he asked, pointing to my bear.
Now we were getting somewhere. I hadn't named my companion. I didn't know that names were something I could designate myself. Because after all, I didn't name myself Jules, my parents did. I didn't name them Mummy or Daddy, they did.
I could name my bear! I scowled in concentration, and took the bear from my mother, and looked at him for a long period of silence.
"Jules, who is that?" my father asked again.
"Kukalaka," I said finally. I don't know where the name came from. But I liked it. And that's what stuck.
My mother seemed delighted. "Who is this?" she asked, pointing to me.
She pointed to herself. "Who is this?"
Then to my father. "And this?"
To the bear in my arms. "Kukalaka."
I think my parents considered it progress. I didn't think much of it, but I notice, looking back yet again, that after naming Kukalaka, I found it a little easier to associate words to various things.