If I had a hammer

I skip out into the garage to find a nail. I have lots of nails. Some of them are hidden in the garage. Some are hidden at strategic points around the house, although nails suffer from the same problem as chocolate. Unlike the average squirrel, I frequently forget where I have hidden the nails or the chocolate. Spouse may be in England but his presence haunts me still. He is a man of very strong principles, especially when it comes to nails, hence my subterfuge.

When we lived in England he let me have my head when it came to nails, but in America things are very different. I am no longer permitted to stick nails in things 'willy nilly,' as he is apt to say. I accept that I was in part to blame for us losing our deposit on our rental house but I'm sure that the landlords miscounted. Even I know that 116 nail holes in a bathroom the size of a cupboard is a little excessive. As a snide aside, I should like to take this opportunity to point out to those said landlords, that anyone who fails to appreciate the joy of a three inch increase in height and volume of their one puny flower bed, with free organic matter, is no pal of mine! Cacti to them! But I digress.

Maybe I should explain further. In America, or rather in California, we are subject to earthquakes. This means that houses are generally not made of brick. Better to imagine the Japanese style of architecture, bamboo rods with rice paper, delicate and divine. Here however, instead of bamboo, they just use sticks. They hide the sticks under plaster, which they insist on calling 'dry wall' or 'sheet rock' for no particular reason that I can fathom. In order to hang anything on a wall, you first need to find the hidden sticks. In order to find the hidden sticks, you have to find the hidden tool in the garage which detects the whereabouts of the sticks. I kid you not!

Failure to attend to these important matters means that the hanging thing will fall down and smash, and you may well 'tear' your wall. What a country!

Spouse objects strongly to torn walls, it's just one of his little foibles. In order to limit the number of torn walls, he fills the garage with wood screws and other useless electrical things that hide my store of nails. He really is that petty minded.

Sadly, it gets worse. Not only is my nail consumption rationed, he also bans random use of hammers. Personally I couldn't care which hammer I use, they're all the same to me, namely out of reach, practically on the ceiling. However, spouse insists that different hammers do different jobs, although it's all a bit vague. Do I insist that one wooden spoon should be favoured over another in the kitchen? Of course not. Everyone is welcome to use my spoons be that as oars, “dibbers,” drumsticks or cooking. Some people are just so picky.

As I tip toe against the wall arms extended overhead, a little voice accosts me, “what for are you be do?” I roll back onto my heels to address the small person and explain the obvious. I pause and look at him. He is so rarely static and vertical at the same time. He stands with his hands clasped neatly behind his back. It is a curious stance for a child, patient, attentive and absorbent. It exactly matches that of my father.

I resist the temptation of sarcasm and remind myself that ‘all opportunities are learning opportunities,’ which is not one of my own nauseating phrases, but someone else’s nauseating phrases.

I try to copy his speech pathologist to fire those synapses and connect those neural pathways. “What is this called dear?” Categories and word retrieval can be such hard work.
“Um it be nail.”
“Excellent! And what is this tool?”
“It be hammer.”
“Superb. What do you think I'm going to do with them?”
“I dun know.”
“Well I'm going to hang this up on the wall.”
“No……”
“No? Why not?”
“Coz you are be use dah wrong hammer?”
“What's wrong with the hammer?”
“It is not be yours.”
“Your dad and me share dear.”
“No…..you are be use dah wimmins hammer.”
“What woman's hammer?”
“Dah special one dat Dad is being buying for you.”

I'd forgotten all about that one.

Clearly my own neural pathways could do with a tune up.


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Crazy Talk

I'm not sure if it's because they're autistic or whether it's the speech delays or some random combination of the two, but now that they talk so much more than I ever imagined possible, far from improving our understanding of one another, it seems to make comprehension some kind of cerebral gymnastic exercise, one that I am not qualified to deal with.

For example, because examples usually clarify, I say to junior 'go and put your shoes on now dear.' Note the use of a statement not rather than a request, which would invoke an automatic negative response or meltdown. What kind of a response might a rational parent expect? I suspect that 'I don't have any shoes,' would not be your first guess. If you had personal knowledge of our family, his aversion to texture and shoes, this might be on your radar, but that answer still wouldn't be the words you'd expect. You might guess 'I don't want to wear shoes because I hate them,' that would be o.k. and logical. The denial of the very existence of shoes, isn't quite so high up on the expectations league, or at least not on mine.
I used to consider myself quite a linguist, agile in the word department but this doesn't marry well with my everyday performance, or lack thereof. Time after time I am floored, defeated and dumbfounded, and that's only within the average hour.
Whilst we skimmed over the issue of using statements rather than questions in the hope of eliciting a response, there is also the matter of giving choices, the A or B type of choice, mainly because for senior, choices are a hardship. So you say to him, 'do you want a tangerine or grapes?' Whilst neither are preferred, neither are they loathed, so it's a choice between two indifferent items. Clever timing on my genius part, ensures that he is hungry before I ask the question, but food is still generally a refueling exercise rather than a social or pleasurable experience. So how will he answer? I can cope with the;

a] I don't know
b] nuffink
c] no
those are all just fine, we've been having those for at least 18 months, it's the ones that spring out of nowhere to hijack and confuse me. These can take a variety of forms such as the unexpected return question that is off topic;
“You like Pikachu or Absol bestest?” Whilst my knowledge of Pokemon and my sons's preference for them, I did not anticipate that my question would provoke his question. Alternatively, his response might be a different question, one that refers to an incident 6 months or 6 years ago, that is not related to the current topic either;
“when I was 4 did I have an accident?'
There again we could have the relevant 'on topic' question, that still comes out of the clouds to zap the feeble minded brain of the adult;
“Citrus fruits are poisonous? I am gonna die!”

Am I complaining because my speech delayed non-verbal children are less so? Well yes of course I am, that's what I'm best at afterall, but at the same time it's such at monumental development that my brain is still lagging behind. The fact that I cannot anticipate their responses reflects my own very narrow field of expectations. It also reflects the fact that they do not have those same limitations, they literally do 'think outside the box.' Who wants to live in that kind of a cage anyway?

My synapses and neural pathways are strong, swift and travel over familiar well rehearsed territory. Their's are relatively unformed, fluid and free flowing. I know where my typical conversations will end up. Conversations with my own boys are uncharted, without a script or map. But maybe it's better for all of us to travel hopefully than to arrive?

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