Words. Voice. Speech. They means so much, yet so much can be told without them.
Pam played with the hem of the pale pink skirt her mom had carefully dressed her in for the big day. The quiet rumble of the car made her eyelids grow heavy. “Excited for your first day, honey?” Helene questioned, the three year old giving a nod in response. The question had prompted Pam back into the present. Helene sighed, her gut twisting and turning with anxiety for her daughters first day at preschool. She looked back at the small girl in her car seat, as her tiny leg bounced about. Pam’s younger sister, Penny, was in the baby car seat, keeping Pam’s attention. Pam’s quiet giggles filled the car as Penny grabbed her fingers as Pam reached from her toddler car seat to Penny.
“Is Penny going to preschool too?” Pam questioned quietly, her voice filed with hope, as her quivering voice mispronounced the “r” in preschool.
“No, sweetie, Penny is too young.”
Pam stayed quiet, her little brain unsure of the location they were nearing, her brain only processing the aspects of the present. The consistency of the green trees along the road gave her comfort to the worry forming in her tummy. Her red curls were tamed into a (little less) messy braid, and her lavender backpack clutched in her lap. Pam zipped open the bag, triple checking for her plushie. Once reassured for the third time it was there, she zipped it back up. The GPS read three minutes and Helene took in a deep breath. She calmly told herself Pam was just a little shy, and she had nothing to worry about. The oblivious preschooler quietly sitting in the grey car seat looked up to her through the car mirror with big, uneasy eyes.
Helene unbuckled the girls and walked into the school. Immediately, Pam’s small figure collapsed into her, protecting herself from the commotion. Helene urged her on, but the child was frozen. “Cmon Pammy, you can do it honey,” she said encouragingly.
The room was big, but it felt stuffy and tight to Pam. Her little heart increased and her brain found fear within every simple thing. The people around her made the air feel scarce and it made salty tears come forward. She didn’t say a word, despite the roll call and her mother’s reassurance. The bright alphabet posters were intimidating and the little children crowding her were daunting. She was clinging to her mother, her body feeling overwhelmed. Her chest felt strung closed and her heart felt as if it had run a marathon. Her brain felt as if it was getting a million phone calls, but never gave her the option to pick up the phone and answer it. Eventually, she found herself pulled from her mother. She reached for her mother anxiously, but there was nothing to grab. Her head felt like bottomless pit waiting for her to land in safety. The teacher instructed her to follow each breath in threes. In and out. Pam was too stuck in her mind to hear the gentle voice, her own voice inaccessible.