Several months ago I started remodelling a house for resale. Each day, I would mark the time to "wrap up and go home" by the sound of the school bus dropping off children in from the neighbourhood. Since the first 3 weeks were spent replacing a roof, I also got a chance to see the children come home. Each day there was an elderly woman in a white car waiting for the bus to arrive. A small boy would meekly get off the bus and be greeted by her.
All the material from the roof replacement, old tubs, sheet rock from demolition were dropped outside on the already dead lawn for later transport to the dump. Since I was there every day, as was the woman in the white car, we started up a conversation. I learned that the small boy was named Ethan, that he was her grandson, and that he attended a special school. Because of all the debris in front of the house, Ethan called our remodel project "the broken house". What as apt name for my project!
One day there was a timid knock on the door and Grandma & Ethan stood there. She started to apologize that Ethan was really insistent on seeing the "broken house". I bent down to greet Ethan at eye level and asked if I could shake his hand. "When you look someone in the eye and shake their hand, that means you are happy to see them", I said. Ethan and Grandma came in and we toured each room. Ethan was very animated and rushed from room to room. While he didn't articulate clearly, I did catch a few phrases and replied back to them. "Yes Ethan, there are no lights in here yet but there will be soon." "That is a big back yard where people can play". "This house is broken, but won't be broken for long".
After the tour, Grandma & Ethan left with an invite to return anytime.They did return every few weeks and Ethan shook my hand each time. Grandma said, "You understand a lot more than most people do when Ethan talks". I replied, "All I did was listen".