Poor Elli!!! Friday evening, Christi took Sophi, Jess and Lexi up to Rexburg, ID to attend their cousin's baptism. This was a fun trip for them, but left me at home to get the other children ready for church this morning. Taylor, Parker, and Xander? Piece of cake. Graci? Does it all on her own. Elli? Remember, I am just a man. I have developed some ability to do my daughters' hair over the years, but cannot come close to Christi's expertise. And Elli's is far and away the most challenging hair to style. Not only is it the thickest and longest, you also have to contend with Elli's sudden jerks and jolts and fits of frustration as you pull a comb through the tangled mess. Actually, the tangles weren't too terrible because I washed and conditioned it first. Nevertheless, if you were an 8-year-old girl, I would not be your first choice of hairdresser:).
But I pressed forward and gave it my best effort. I dried her hair, put in four ponytails and got her breakfast. A few minutes later, Parker, not knowing I had done anything other than get her out of bed that morning, said, "Dad, I probably wouldn't worry about doing Elli's hair today." Ouch! When I told Parker I had already done it, he said, "Well, you could take it two ways. The glass half empty would be that the hairdo you did for Elli looked like it might not have been fixed since Mom did it two days ago. The glass half full would be that I thought the job you did was good enough for church!" Guess I'll look on the bright side.
On top of her hair, she had to deal with a rather interesting group of wardrobe coordinators. I picked out the purple dress and black ponytails. I asked Parker to get her a pair of leggings. He asked if black was ok. I said yes, not noticing the butterflies until we were at church. Finally, just before we walked out of the house, I asked Graci to get her some shoes and socks. Graci's fashion sense being what it is, she chose white shoes and white socks with multi-colored beads at the top. This is the result:
On a more positive note, Elli has done a couple of things in the last few weeks that help us catch a glimpse of what's going on inside her mind. First of all, she is being more verbal lately. Sometimes we can understand what she's trying to get across. Sometimes we can't. But just having her express herself is really a treat. Second, Elli used a pronoun!!! (I guess she uses a pronoun often, but the only way we have ever heard her say it is "I want [insert some type of food here] please!) Unless you know someone with severe cognitive disabilities and an almost complete lack of intelligible communication, you cannot understand what an amazing leap forward this represents. Parker was talking to her and said, "Elli, you're so beautiful." After a couple of seconds she replied, "I so beautiful." Parker's and my jaws both dropped. We stared at each other in as much dumbfounded shock as if she had jumped up and started flying around the room. Finally, Elli communicated an idea to Parker and I today, all on her own. Parker was again playing with her (he is a remarkable brother, by the way) and out of the blue she said a line from her prayers: "We thank you for...........Parker!" What a beautiful way for her to express her gratitude to an older brother who frequently takes time to talk to her, hold her and tell her he loves her.
These tiny, giant steps forward we see Elli take are a reminder that she understands far more than we might assume. For some reason (I believe it is because of her valiant spirit and lack of a need to be tested in this mortal life), Heavenly Father has seen fit to allow her to live in a body with these special needs. Although her brain does not transmit or receive information the same way most of ours do, I believe she is making memories and developing relationships with us that will last beyond life on this earth. I love you Elli.