Lightning bugs (fireflies) have been out for several weeks. Our yard is a perfect habitat for them. Julia has been out with the neighborhood girls way past bedtime collecting loads of the things in her buggy box.
She is really interested in the specifics this year. What do lightning bugs eat? How do they light up?
I figured I'd put off these important questions long enough one day while we were at my mom's house. I took Julia on my lap to google it once and for all.
Before I opened the browser I spied an item on the desktop of my mother's computer. It was a video clip called "Lightning Bugs". We watched an eighteen second clip of Julia seeing the blinking insects for the first time. She was about 2. She didn't have hearing aids and we didn't know she needed them.
Julia didn't attempt to speak. I listened to myself prompting her. "Look, it's a bug. Can you say BUG? Catch the BUG!" Julia didn't say anything. She raised her small hands and tracked the flashing creature.
We didn't have a video camera back then. I'm almost glad we didn't. The few grainy cell phone/digital camera videos we have are painful for me to watch.
Some are even more painful than this lightning bug one.
There's a video of Julia pretending she's reading stories aloud to me and Tim and his mom. She was approximating speech at that time. Her utterances were combination of a d-sound and vowels.
We thought everything was okay back then. Now that video sounds like a deaf child to me. I wish I'd known then that she needed help. I wish I hadn't spent a whole year frustrating myself and my baby. I wish I could go back to that first night she saw lightning bugs. I'd tell myself to get her hearing tested. I'd tell myself that she's going to be okay and that in three short years she'll say so much more than "bug".
The best I can do now is to forgive myself. I'm doing it one grainy video at a time.