Tuesday, October 17, 2006

"Hot dog and french fries."

My 5-year-old daughter Elizabeth has a slight speech impairment. Her mouth has oversensitive nerve endings, which can discourage the development of speech-producing muscles as an infant and toddler. As a result Elizabeth has attended weekly speech therapy since she was three. I talk to Elizabeth everyday and sometimes I can't quite understand her. That's partly my fault. My hearing is slightly below average. But she's always chipper about my inability to comprehend her speech. By the third time I ask her to repeat herself she usually stops trying and just smiles and says "I love you, daddy." Melts my heart. Then I ask her to repeat herself again.

Most people who don't know Elizabeth have even greater difficulty understanding her and often her mother or I have to translate. That is, when we can get her to talk in the presence of other people. She's very shy sometimes, no doubt at least partly due to the speech issues.

Yesterday my wife Amy and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary. So the three of us went out to eat. Usually we go to the Beef House near Covington, Indiana for these sorts of events. If you ever get a chance to go there don't pass it up. But this year we went to the Texas Roadhouse, a chain of casual dining places that plays both kinds of music: country AND western. I don't dig either genre much, but they played 2 Johnny Cash songs while I was there, one of which was "Ring of Fire". So I can't complain at all.

The waitress comes around to our table. Some damn fool country song is playing in the background and the house is packed with chatty people. I can barely hear the gal as she takes our orders. Elizabeth's turn to order comes around and she looks right at the waitress and says "hot dog and french fries". It comes out clear as day to her mother and I. More importantly, the waitress understood her!

Best. Anniversary. Gift. EVAR.