Warning: This isn't a very upbeat post.
We were just at Walmart. Weekly grocery shopping. Millie was sitting in the cart, happily pointing at foods she wanted and anything else that caught her eye, such as, for example, every single Frozen-themed item in the whole danged store.
I was half-talking to her, half-muttering to myself as we went through the list.
She pointed to something red -- I can't remember what exactly -- and said "reh" (red).
I smiled and said, "Millie's so smart," not even breaking stride as I walked further down the aisle.
Usually, she smiles. This time, though, she frowned and shook her head.
I stopped and looked at her, still smiling, "Silly, yes, Millie smart."
She shook her head again, looked down at her feet, hanging below the cart. She looked back up at me and signed, No.
"Yes, Millie is smart," I said, a little more firmly. "Millie very smart."
She just blinked at me, looking rather sad.
"Millie goes to school, right?" I asked.
She grinned and smiled, signing yes.
"You like school?"
She signed, yes.
"School helps make Millie even smarter," I said.
She signed "friends."
"You have friends at school?" I asked.
She signed yes.
Then she looked at me, signing "friends" and then "smart."
"Your friends are smart?" I asked.
"Uh-huh!" she said, emphatically, happily.
"Millie smart too," I said.
She shook her head, signed no, and spoke, "Nuh." (No.)
I crouched down, looked her straight one, "Millie is smart. Millie very smart."
She signed no.
"Millie knows her colors, her shapes, your letters. Millie is very smart."
She signed no. She signed "friends" and then "smart."
I said it again, "Millie smart too."
She shook her head. And then signed her name, and then covered her mouth.
"Millie doesn't talk?" I asked, quietly.
She nodded, and then signed, "Millie sad."
"Millie's sad," I echoed.
Then signed in order three things: her name, no, smart.
"Millie's not smart?" I asked.
She nodded. And covered her mouth.
"Millie's not smart because she doesn't talk?"
She nodded. And then signed, Millie sad.
I'd like to say that there was something that happened now, something that brought it all full-circle, something that helped me help her understand. But there wasn't.
I told her, repeatedly, in several different ways, that just because she doesn't talk like the other kids doesn't mean she isn't smart, that she is super duper smart. She not only knows her colors, shapes and her letters, but she knows sign language and songs and all sorts of important things.
And I did get a few nods, a few smiles.
But she wasn't convinced.
Millie sad, she signed. Millie sad.
We have so many very good days, so many successes. She is making great progress and is learning so much more every single week.
You should hear her say "purple" -- so perfectly.
She is sometimes saying her name, and she is putting two words together.
She's so happy. She's so bouncy and chipper and upbeat.
But she's getting self-conscious. She's getting older and she's getting, well, smarter.
She understands more.
And that can be a double-edged sword.