Challenging Behavior

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Chicken philosophy and word retrieval

 

“What it is?” asks my youngest son. I raise my eyes from his homework sheet and try not to glower.

When will either of them ever learn to reference back, give me some tiny clue about the question? I have a choice. I can prompt him or I can wait. If I wait long enough, he will repeat the question, the same words but louder to aid my comprehension.

One day, just maybe, he will ask me a question in context, a whole question with all the clues built in and I shall fall down dead from shock. I feel an attack of grumpiness pricking the corners of my mouth. I suppress a sigh and thank my lucky stars that he chooses to talk at all.

“What is what dear?”
“An egg?”
“Hmm, well Grandpa would say that an egg is hen fruit.” I wonder if my Dad can remember his witticism, the kind designed for children's entertainment, or is that lost to Alzheimers too?
“Hen fruit? Hen fruit! HEN FRUIT! Ahh tis a joke I am finking.”
“You're right! It is a joke, a family joke, probably not a very funny one though.”
“What else?”
“What else is an egg, apart from a joke?”
“Yes.”
“It's something that you can eat, very tasty and it can be a chicken baby or rather a chick.”
“Er……hens eat dah chicks?”
“No, people do.”
“People eat chicken babies? Gross man!” splutters the neophobe who currently only eats 13 foods.
“Er well…”
“Why they are?”
“Why are they what dear?”
“Why are dey dah sometimes white and dah sometimes brown?”
“It depends upon what the chicken eats. The food that the chicken eats can change the colour of the shell.” I decide to avoid the issue of different breeds as I'm already out of my depth, my fowl facts having been hand plucked from watching Chicken Run some three years prior.
“We can have pink eggs?”
“Hmm at Easter you can dye them any colour you like.”
“Why they are dead?” Oh no! A trigger word. Meltdown imminent. Dive for cover!
“Dead?”
“You say they are 'died.'”
“Oh not dead died but dyed 'coloured,' like when you dye your paper different colours with your markers.”
“Vvv vvvv vvvvvv?”
“Vegetable?” Animal, vegetable or mineral? What now? What is he on about?
“I beed a vegetable?”
“Are you?”
“No.”
“?”
“Vegetables don be eat chicken's………..?”
“Oh right! You mean vegetarians don't eat meat, or chickens for that matter.” I suppose he is a vegetarian now I come to think of it. Every one of his 13 foods would fall into that category. Sounds so much better than Neophobe anyway. So much easier to explain. My seven year old is an ardent vegetarian. I like it! Yes, we should certainly encourage this language expansion.
“No.”
“No?”
“I am a Vegan.”
“A Vegan?”
“Yes.”
“Why?”
“I don eat eggs.”

More shock! Grumpiness dispelled.


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Padlock or face the consequences

 

In the wee small hours I turn off the telly to stagger up to bed.

At least I now have a few ideas about what to cook for supper.

A few wee small hours later, I find a small boy in a pool of light from the television. I return him, reluctantly, to his bed. Failure to lock up the telly cupboard.

The following day, or rather, later in the same day, we break with tradition to have an alternative breakfast. The croissants are warm and inviting. I pop them in the basket wrapped in the checkered cloth, a delightful gift from yesteryear. I am familiar with all the objections in advance, or so I thought.

“Dey have dah smoke!” he squalks in an adenoidal tone as his fingers pinch his nostrils shut.
“It's just steam, because they're warm dear.”
“I am not eating dah hot. Dah hot is bad!”
“You don't have to eat one lovey, but they have to stay on the table, you know that rule.”

It's all part of the exposure to new foods campaign. We maintain calm resilience, as I know that they're all hungry first thing in the day.

“They're called croissants. They're French.” The other two tuck in with gusto, and offer words of encouragement.
“They're a bit like bread,….or rather like cake, you might like em if you give em a try!”
“Dey are sweet like ………er cake…….but dey are salty too! You like dah salt!”
“I do not like dah crudite!” We are all too well aware, that vegetables are not included in his diet of 17 foods.
“I do not like the Croissants dear,” I rephrase for him.
“I do not like dah crescents.”
“Ooo yes, they are shaped like that, but they're called croissants dear.”
“Dey are dah 'w'?”
“Um sort of, that's how French people pronounce it. It's your favourite 'qu' sound again.”
“How you are spell?”
I oblige.
“Where it is?”
“Where is what dear?”
“Dah 'w'?”
“Ah. Well the 'w' is silent, just like the 'g' in 'gnat,'” I pander.
“I do not like dah croustini!”
“Croissants dear.”
“Croustini is dah 'w'?”
“Um, no I don't think so.”

If he could touch, smell or look at any one of these items, I think I would die of heart failure.

“He is dah croque monsieur?”
I pause, mid munch to look at my speech delayed six and a half year old; dumbstuck, me, not him. I begin to feel distinctly unhinged, more so than usual. Is this a reference to our recent sandwich making exercise with his brother, a school project? Are we entering a second language phase when we have yet to master the first? Is this just an off shoot of his current craze for all words that have a 'qu' or 'cr' sound?

No.

This is direct result of watching the food channel unsupervised in the middle of the night. I decide that this 'self exposure' to new foods, is a step in the right direction.


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Multiplication


“Do they breed?”
“I'm sorry?”
“Breed?”
“Who”
“Lizards. I mean, not do they breed but how do they breed?”
I’m not convinced that his emphasis clarifies his question? I look into the bleary eyes of my husband. [translation = significant other] Is it morning or night, if you return home from work at 3 and it's still dark?
“Well don't quote me, but I have my suspicions.”
“Do you think we should check on-line what sex they are?”
“I'll add it to me 'to do' list if you like. Put your mind at rest.”
“Don't you think that one is looking a bit pudgey?” We peer into the aquarium.
“What it is?” pounces Junior.
“What is what dear?”
“Dah 'pudgey'?” he blurts.
“Fat.”
“He is not dah fat! He is dah cute.” Never insult a lizard regardless of the time of day.
“Maybe he’s about to have a growing spurt?” I offer.
“Maybe, perhaps grow a bit longer.”
“Dey don’t shed, it is dah “snakes dat are shed,” not lizards.”
“That's as well as may be,” spouse adds, raking his hair. “Let’s not get bogged down in “that” again.”
“What it is?”
“What is what, dear?”
“Dah 'may be'? It is dah same as dah 'maybe'?”
Spouse leans on the edge of the table, fingertips tented and breathes deeply. He swallows a yawn at five minutes past six in the morning, before continuing, “well he may also be pregnant.”
I look at my husband. He looks at me. His eyes widen, slightly. We both know, that it didn't come out quite right. We look at junior and wait for the question.

It doesn't come. Instead he asks “how many?”
“How many what dear?”
“How many dah babies he is having? Er…….eggs dat are havin dah babies inside of dah shell?”
Oh great. Just great.
“I'll leave you to explain that one dear, I have toast to burn.”

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