Wednesday, January 13, 2016

"Can boys with cleft lips...whistle?"

We were sitting at the dinner table a few months ago.  Azlan had a big question.

He started kind of hesitant.  All eyes (and there are many at our table) were on him.

"So...I've been wondering might seem like a silly question.'s a big one to me..."

He trailed off.

He has always spoken his mind.  He was two years old, NO ONE except me could understand his speech...and he would tell me if he did (and if he did not...) like my outfit :)  So what was the hesitation...?

"I've been wondering...if boys with cleft lips...can whistle?"

I could feel the lump in my throat.  I mean.  I got what this meant to him.

All of his siblings are learning to whistle and it's kind of cool, right?

He has a severe, severe underbite.  (We have a big appt next week to see when he needs a major jaw surgery b/c his underbite is so extreme it's affecting his breathing).

He has a category 3+ cleft lip and palate.

His mouth doesn't make the perfect circular motion. His teeth are a (beautiful) mess.

What do you say?

I'm a realist.  I never want to lead my child one direction and feel cheated that I painted something prettier than it is.  Or anyone else for that matter.

He said my hesitation and said "can you look it up on your computer?"

I smiled and said "No, Azlan. I don't think that's a good idea."

His eyes got big! "Why not??"

"Well...because what if I find that they cannot?"

He didn't miss a beat.  "I would love to know that because then...well then I'd stop trying!"

I smiled.  "See...that's exactly why I don't want to find out. Because what if...they can't. try so hard for so long that become the one who does!"

I can still see him processing. He was just staring at me and then that sparkle in his eyes.  That sparkle that he was born with. Yes. Yes...he was.  His eyes smiled so long BEFORE his mouth ever did that I was always able to capture those newborn photos because his eyes always told me the story.

"Mommy.  Are you serious?"

Yes.  Yes...I am.  Everyone at the table was watching this teachable moment.

Why not you...? Why not be the first...? Just because (hypothetically) everyone else has failed...why must you?"

Do you know...I have never looked it up. And he has never stopped trying.

In fact, last night at the dinner table he brought it up again.

"Mommy...? What do you think? I've been trying every day for so long and it just doesn't work. I don't think I'm even close to whistling.  Is it my teeth? I think it's my teeth. They just aren't in the right spots.  Or my mouth. It just doesn't work..."

Azlan always has had his emotions just right...below the surface. He looks like he's fine then he will burst into tears.

I could tell that's where he was right then.

I said "how about we ask Miss Dottie tomorrow at speech therapy."

He LIT up.

This afternoon at speech therapy he turned and whispered to me "remind me to ask about the whistling." She caught us sharing secrets and asked what :)  So I told the story.

You know...she didn't frown. She didn't miss a beat.  She said "well why not? Let's try".

And she proceeded to spend the next several minutes of therapy intensely helping him with his tongue, his lips, his air whistle.

No...he didn't whistle today. But he walked out of that office with a bounce in his step.

Knowing...absolutely knowing...he's going to whistle.

And when he does...can you imagine the celebration?

Oh yes.  The greater the obstacle...the sweeter the reward. Always.

And the lesson. For all of us. Who cares what's been done before us! Why does everyone else set the standard for what we will accomplish...? Why even know what they have done? Why not...give it everything you've got?  Even I don't want to know. So please don't write me and tell me how the odds are stacked against him.  We don't need to know that.

Tell us after the fact. After he's accomplished it. Then ... yes, then I'll research it. Not a moment before.  Right now...? Azlan is determined to reach this goal.


  1. I love this attitude! We have a son with ASD , and understand the list of "can't" , "probably not" etc. that are brought into almost every conversation. Especially in the younger years. We also choose not to be negative. High expectations lead to high success. (That and lots of prayer!��). So far... he has exceeded all the "professionals' " expectations. Keep on keeping on... the rewards are far more amazing than we can imagine. �� Lauretta

  2. Waiting with you all on the blessing of a whistle from sweet Azlan!

  3. My now 25 yr old wasn't supposed to be able to walk when he was diagnosed as an infant, but he plays basketball with his Special Olympic team and is the high scorer. Never give up or let others set your limitations. Azlan has true champions in his parents encouraging him to always be hopeful and have faith. Good luck with your whistling practice!

  4. Love love love this!
    I'm in tears!!!!!
    You are such an amazing mom- what an inspiration!!
    Rooting for him!!!

  5. Love love love this!
    I'm in tears!!!!!
    You are such an amazing mom- what an inspiration!!
    Rooting for him!!!