As I often do, I jotted down some notes this morning for a post I planned to write later today. It was going to be about how grateful all of you should be to my mother for saving you from the minutiae that I might otherwise be tempted to post. Usually, I call up my mom whenever something exceptionally complex comes out of Bub’s mouth (which is, lately, once or twice a day). But she’s away this weekend, so I have no choice but to pour all my confidences into your long-suffering ears. To wit, here are a few of his latest gems:
- (after being given a slightly misshapen carrot) "It’s getting too broken." (handing it back to me) "You might want to fix it." (Please note his use of a modal verb and an infinitive phrase – all in the same sentence!)
- (upon hearing me singing "Robot #1" under my breath) "Mama, are you talking about a robot song?"
- this conversation:
Bub: (holding up one of his plastic kitchen utensils) What’s this?
Me: It’s a pizza cutter. You use it to cut pizza.
Bub: Where’s pizza?
Me: We don’t have any pizza, but you can cut a pretend pizza here in this frying pan. (enthusiastically moving pizza cutter across empty plastic frying pan)
Bub: (retrieving pizza cutter and blowing gently on it) Bubbles!
(Please note his use of the interrogative and his back-and-forth turn-taking. A couple of months ago I had to think really hard before I tentatively checked off "yes" beside "Holds back and forth conversations" on his autism assessment. What I meant back then was that I could ask questions that he could answer; now we’ve switched roles.)
- (while playing "Make a Match" on Starfall, an alphabet-themed website that is Bub’s favourite bookmark: I was clicking on cards to turn them over, and he was matching the letters to the objects they stood for) "Jet! You need a J! B! You need a ball! There you go!"
I jotted down these anecdotes this morning, planning to use them as a follow-up to my post about finding wonder in the ordinary, perhaps winding up with a few reflections about the widespread assumption that these kinds of anecdotes are ALL we talk about here in the momosphere. But that last item reminded me that I wanted to test whether Bub's linking of J with jet and B with ball was a sign of phonemic awareness or merely a memorized association. I gathered up a few magnetic letters from the fridge and spread them out on the coffee table, giving Bub a toy car and asking him, "What letter goes with car? What letter makes a ‘kuh’ sound?"
Bub delightedly grabbed a few letters and arranged them to form a word. "B-A-D spells car!" he announced.
That's when it all unravelled. The Pie lunged in to grab the letters and Bub shot out an arm, knocking her to the floor. I stood there like a deer in headlights, trying to figure out who to punish, while the Pie scrambled up from the floor and snatched a few letters. As fast as she could pick them up, Bub was prying them out of her tightly gripped fists. Then he was running away and she was being dragged along behind, refusing to release her pit-bull hold on his shirt, and both of them were screaming until I came to my senses and separated them, giving a few of the letters to Bub and a few to the Pie.
And then it all happened again. And again a few more times, with minor variations. So I put the letters back on the fridge and the children screamed and cried because it’s only letters on the coffee table that are fun, and only if they don’t have to get them off the fridge themselves. Finally, Bub started rooting around in one of the kitchen drawers and I heaved a sigh of relief because he was finally directing his attention away from fighting with his sister, who curled up gratefully in her father’s lap to read a story. And then Bub found what he was looking for – a can opener – carried it into the family room and threw it at his sister’s head.
Hubby hauled him up and said, "Bub, I can’t even think of anything to do to you that’s bad enough for what you did," and then put him in time out for five minutes. Bub accepted his sentence quite cheerfully - it was as if the entire episode had been an experiment just to see what would happen. In the past, his acts of violence have had a clear motivation, either to gain control of a coveted toy or to vent his immediate frustration. This, however, was pre-meditated: he did not seem angry, nor was there anything concrete to be gained by his action. It was a surgical strike, a scientific study of human behaviour.
So there are a few more milestones for you. Bub is beginning to display the following new abilities:
- holding a grudge
- misbehaving to get a rise out of his parents
- opening kitchen drawers.