H: Ho. My younger niece is developmentally delayed. She's at an age where it is still difficult to tell the extent of her retardation--she seems to have age-appropriate comprehension--but she has a fairly extensive inability to speak. She has a few words she can say clear as day: mommy, daddy, puppy, and "Tant too," which even strangers recognize as thank you. She has a few words that we all know, "eeeee" with the gesture to her mouth is eat, but if she puts her hand on her belly it's please. Ho mostly means horse. She does hippotherapy to help with the hypotonia. And she loves horses. (She rides at Thorncroft, a very special place that works wonders for kids like her.) She has a giant stuffed horse, Pa, that she rides in the house--sometimes, like a circus performer, standing on his back.
Ho can also mean hole. It is articulated slightly differently, but not a difference that I could spell. She's obsessed with a hole in our staircase. (The home was owned by older women who needed a chairlift to get up the stairs. When they removed it, they left a hole in the carpeted stairs--really why remove the carpet to fix the hole?) As my cousin's family was preparing for their second visit to our house, my niece insisted on bringing her tools. She came in and went right for the ho. She spent several hours poking it with her plastic screwdriver, pounding it with her plastic hammer, and trying the wrench too.
But my favorite is when ho is strung together with ho. Ho Ho is, of course, Santa. Last Christmas, before the lawn reindeer made it out of the house, she lined up every reindeer decoration from smallest to largest in front of a train of dining room chairs. She put the presents that were under the tree in the last chair. She was Ho Ho. And if you asked her what she was doing, she made intricate hand motions and said, "Flew." She was devastated when the reindeer had to go out on the lawn.
She doesn't always speak our language, but she shows me new ways of interacting with the world every day.