Sparks and spikes

First thing most mornings, senior son has his full repetoire of words and more importantly, he is willing to demonstrate their use. This child's speech delay has transformed him from non-verbal for semi verbal, although an expert has yet to confirm this. He can struggle to retrieve the word 'green,' [translation = expressive language, what he can actually say] and yet in the alternative, use the preferred world of 'chartreuse.' [translation = receptive language, the words that he understands as they come in.]

This is in part why it is so difficult to accurately assess language use. I would liken it to being unable to remember the name of a film, an actor, that woman who used to live at the house at the end of the road; it's on the tip of your tongue but you just can't hook it. The frustration this causes, often means that it preferable not to speak at all but it is debatable whether a meltdown in the alternative is better? I need him to practice using words. The meltdowns are a by-product of his effort.

Although breakfast and the morning routine is fraught with stumbling blocks for the unwary, his ability to talk coherently often leaves me breathless with amazement and unadulterated joy. In a home full of rigid narrow rules I gasp at his expertise. Breakfast cereal follows fruit consumption. The fruit is compulsory as this is when they are at their most hungry. The reward, is a choice of about half a dozen types of cereal, some more preferred than others. The choice is limited by cupboard space. Until one box of cereal is empty, when there is room for a replacement, they are denied additional choices.

He skips to the cupboard and clambers up on the counter for a better view as I start my verbal protest. He waves a hand in my general direction saying sotto voce, “now just calm down now, it's gonna be o.k.” He says it to [me], not to himself as he usually does. The cupboard is stuffed to overflowing, “now let me see,” he pauses, his eyes flicking between the cupboard and my face as he calculated. He jumps down with alacrity and heads off to the garage and additional cereal packets, but now before calling over his shoulder to advise me, “I be right back, you just wait there nicely.” Not only at the phrases appropriate and delivered in a fluid flow, but he turned his head towards me whilst running in the opposite direction. Although this increases his chances of an accident, the very act of turning his head to send his message is striking.

When he reappears with a new packet, leaps onto the counter and jams the box between the others, he announces in triumph, “you see! It fits! I was right, you were wrong, but that's o.k. I forgive you.”

He tumbles back onto the floor. He visually checks that I am in the correct position before he turns his body forward again, so that he can gently reverse into my body, so that we curve together like spoons. His hands reach back to hold my thighs before he does a little jig, a backwards cuddle. To you it is disconcerting with sexual undercurrents. To me it is the demonstrative child exhausted by his speech efforts, yet wanting to communicate affection.

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Another fruitless conversation?

[from a few weeks back]

I decide that although senior son has no temperature, [translation = has recovered] he would benefit from a little recouperation time. [translation = recharge the batteries to full capacity rather than sending him back to school with low energy reserves]

I notice that he seems to take [un]natural delight in taunting his siblings, “I am ill, [translation = sick] I stay home, you go school. Bye!” he says with glee.

{sub translation = sick equals vomit, so Americans go around telling everyone 'I am vomit today.' If only they knew!}] His siblings depart disgruntled, no doubt concocting plans to contract some contagious disease rather than learn anything whilst at school.

He is definitely better, not energetic, but vertical. I try to think how we can use our day, so that whilst it remains 'enjoyable' it doesn't end up causing me pain. [translation = he has so much fun at home that he then refuses to return to school] I consider reading to him. It’s a compulsory menu item anyway, but maybe I could increase the frequency?

The cats gambol around the newly erected Holiday tree. [translation = in the house for almost a week now and only decorated with lights] A light bulb moment!

“I know! How about we start decorating the tree?”
“You are talking to me?” Good referencing even though we are alone. Everyone else is at school or at work.
“Yes, I'm talking to you dear.”
“Oh. What you say again?” Perfect! If in doubt ask for help. [translation = reiteration or translation ]
“How about we start decorating the tree?” [Translation = don't change the original question as it causes unnecessary confusion] Pause. Wait. Count to fifteen with 'ands,' as this is an averagely good day with little interference. [translation = sibling demands]
“Tree? What tree?” I refuse to sigh, I keep my face neutral.
“This tree dear.” I stand aside to reveal the 12 foot tree, three inches behind me, bedecked in multi-coloured lights that are blazing.
“Oh! That tree!” What other tree could he possibly have been thinking of? [translation = such negative considerations are not helpful]
“Shall we start putting decorations on it?”
“Why?” Oh dear, here we go. [translation = become tied up in semantics. {sub translation = tree remains naked}]
“Because it will be fun.”
“Fun for who?” A pertinent question as always.
“For both of us. We can do it together, just you and me.”
“You and me?”
“You are sure it is fun?”
“I am.” He pauses to digest this information. Patience, patience, it's coming, it's coming, keep counting. [translation = don't forget the 'ands' as he's processing multiple factors] His hands slowly move to his hips, he adopts a jaunty stance, flips back a hank of hair with a jut of his chin to advise me, “Well….I can see that maybe it is fun for you…….but not for me……but I will hep you anyways.”
I resist the urge to squeeze him tight for his magnanimity. Although, no doubt, he would enjoy the proprioceptive input, on the whole, positive praise and reinforcement has unfortunate consequences. That’s my fix for the day!

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When is a door not a door?

When it's ajar! It wasn't part of the original plan. The original plan was to spend my nearly two hours free of children, doing something therapeutic but pointless, such as throwing a bowl on the pottery wheel. Instead I'm doing something constructive, cleaning the refrigerator. A little unexpected admittedly but it's always better to be productive than leisurely. I pull out the shelf tray from the fridge to wash it, the jars and bottles all glued to the Perspex.

I remember a boy coming to ask for some whipped cream for the strawberries that I was serving at a party. He asked politely, but I was surprised that someone so youthful would be brave enough to ask the hostess for such a thing, afterall there was a jug of cream available on the table. But Americans are bold like that, they teach their children to speak up for themselves. I liked it. I stopped catering for 50 plus people and grabbed a bowl and a whisk to make some whipped cream for him. The child stood watching patiently which also impressed me considerably. I remember that his large eyes grew bigger as he watched but I didn't know why? I chucked the whisk in the sink, scooped the whipped cream into a clean bowl and passed it and a spoon to the boy. His mother arrived at that moment where she took in the scene.
“Oh you shouldn't have gone to all that trouble, he'd have been ok. with just old regular Reddi Whip.” Not for the first time I knew that everyone around me was talking a foreign language. I ran Reddi Whip through my brain; Reddibrek, a hot breakfast cereal? Red letter? Ready for beddy already teddy? Red herring? I had no terms of reference, it was mystifying.
“You know, in a can!” she said. Can? I remembered that 'can' meant 'tin,' but that didn't help. Did she mean evaporated or condensed milk? How foul! I was none the wiser. I accepted it, didn't question it because I was learning a great deal about peculiar American ways, like the cake thing. Take a perfectly delectable slice of moist room temperature cake and then slap a rock of ice-cream on it. The ice-cream melts quickly and makes a soggy mess. Why would anyone do that? So what if they label it 'a la mode,' they're not fooling anyone.

It's my own fault of course, I should never have let a canister of spray cream have house room, as it such a revolting concoction of chemicals. But of course you do, don't you, as time goes by, you learn to go with the flow and adapt. It was a mistake asking him to put the can back in the fridge, or rather on the shelf in the fridge door. I watch him hovering in front of the open fridge looking for a space tall enough, which is great because it means that he has noted the discrepancy between the two. “In the door dear,” I repeat with a tone of exasperation creeping into my voice.
“Door? Door? What door?” he bleats.
“The door, the door, in the door dear!” I get cross because I cannot think of another word for 'door,' something to convey dooriness that isn't the word door. Never repeat, never repeat repeatedly. I skid over to him so that he can watch me and my arms. My arms sweep wide into a rectangle to indicate the fridge and again to mimic the door.
“Oh door!” he says with surprise, as if it has suddenly materialized before him, but there again, perhaps it just has? As he squeezes it in, it accidentally squirts a shot of foamy cream at high velocity. The others come over to investigate what made the noise and then admire the resulting splat. A set of tentative little finger tips test it out, because it might be the shaving cream variety of foam, rather than the edible kind of cream. I make a mental note to store shaving cream in the fridge for a few months so that we don't have to repeat this exercise too often. Filthy creatures.

Three minutes later an immense amount of happiness has infected them all, but the contagious fun is over too quickly, the can has to be recycled. It's impressive that they've learned how to dispense the cream themselves by depressing the button. It's great that they find the picture of two foot of splattered cream a source of amusement, spread all over the inside of the door and it's contents of the fridge. An educational experience for us all.
He lifted his hand, stuck out his index finger and traced 'door,' this from a child who can barely write his own name and considers pencils to be instruments of torture. He also shared his grin with me, as well as his eyes, as he purposefully licked his finger.
I must remember to look up that word in the thesaurus.
1. a movable barrier used to open and close the entrance to a building, room, closet, or vehicle.
2. the gap that forms the entrance to a building or room
3. a building or room considered in relation to those on either side

Encarta┬« World English Dictionary ┬ę 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

Big help that was! “The barrier is ajar. Don't forget to shut the gap on your way out?” Love m

Just for Jerry

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