Sunday, February 18, 2007

Not the Post I Was Planning to Write

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
  • vengeance-seeking
  • opening kitchen drawers.


Mommy-Like Days said...

The whole toilet training thing is trying my patience--it is making me as mad (I imagine) as watching your son throw a can opener at his sister's head. How about deliberately making a mess? Having Boo try to get into it? Anyhow, when you said dh couldn't think of a punishment bad enough, that's where my mind was at yesterday.

Jill said...

Poor Bub. Grabby little sisters sure have a way of wrecking your day.

BTW: Thanks for getting "Robot # 1" stuck in my head. Hi-5 sucks me in every time.

Beck said...

My son overheard me reading this post to my husband and was aghast - he thought that I was falsely accusing him of throwing a can opener at his sister's head. "Mama, I would NOT do that!" he said, tearfully, and he certainly would NOT do that, since he's too busy slamming her hand in the playroom door.

Andrea said...


Becky said...

So glad to hear about the progress Bub is making verbally, even though I have no idea what an infinitive phrase is. (Very vague recollections from grade 9 English, but that's it.)

And I can empathize with the frustration of seeing deliberate calculated bad behavior. I've often, in my pent-up parental rage, wondered how close our little rip is to sociopathy. He can be so sweet, and then so BAD, and it just doesn't add up. I've also often tried to reassure myself that he's just trying out the world. You know... making sure that things are still going to pan our the same way if he acts out. That's pretty much the only thing I can cling to that keeps me cool-headed. "I just need to be consistent with him."

Hard hard hard.

Lady M said...

My apologies, but the developmental skill of "holding a grudge" made me laugh out loud. Then "vengeance seeking" made me snort. Sorry that things got complicated between the young 'uns, but you're certainly seeing some growth there!

MotherBumper said...

I am in awe of Bub's language, reasoning and imagination - turning a pizza cutter into a bubble wand. I'm impressed.

My mom and dad are away right now and I can't tell you how much I miss our daily chats, giving them the latest Bumper updates. I'm glad your sharing yours - I love hearing these kinds of reports/love-filled confidences.

MotherBumper said...

GAH - don't mark my horrid grammar mistakes in my comments! I'd be covered in red pen ;)

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

He sounds perfectly normal : )

marian said...

That sounds like nice, healthy progress.

In Bub's defense, I have to share one of my earlier memories of life as a 3 year old. It's kind of remarkable because I can still remember so much of the feeling and thought process involved in my action. I'd been playing with my friend Carrie Debrubander (whose last name was so much work for my 3 year-old self to learn that I'll never forget it!) up in my room. I happened to have the wooden hammer from one of those wooden peg toys in my hand as I walked up behind where she sat on the floor, facing away from me. I looked at her head. I looked at the hammer. I wondered what would happen if I, uh, combined the two. Honestly, I just, you know, wondered-- I was generally a very good girl! And so I calmly did it. And I found out what happened. And I didn't like it, so I didn't do it again. On Bub's behalf, I plead innocence by reason of academic exploration!

Em said...

Good to see him hitting all those developmental milestones - even if they do make life a little busier. G has had a spurt with her language lately. It's great... now she can argue with her brother ;)

Karen said...

congratulations! and also, congratulations?

Opening kitchen drawers is on my top ten list of least favorite developmental milestone. It is below doorknob use and climbing out of crib but well above jumping in bathtub and taking off own socks repeatedly and then crying about it.

c4cara said...

Ah, sibling rivalry, how sweet the sound.... NOT! It's amazing isn't it, how totally immersed they become in getting one over each other. My 6 yr old is having an upsurge of resentment - I assume as reaction to her sisters birthday which is today, and means said sister is getting attention AND presents - and has been doing 'accidental' things in her sister's direction like waving her foot 'Oh I can't imagine how my foot hit her leg like that', or racing to answer all questions, dominate all games, and generally being petulant and unco-operative. I have been struggling to find a mature way to diffuse all this, but am not getting far... I need some distance and thinking time, neither of which are much available in the thick of battle... sigh. I know they love each other.
Way to go Bub! I'm sorry, I have to smile at the can-opener story, and the 'holding a grudge' developmental milestone.

Mad Hatter said...

From my experience growing up, it sounds to me as if Bub ranks high on the normal scale of big brother-dom.

nomotherearth said...

Quite a day you had - good and bad. (Wow, I sound like Dr Seuss..)

I like it when you share the "minutiae".

Sandra said...

There are so many milestones both good and trying. Yay for the language strides Bub! And the calcuated big brotherness ... it's all part of growing up.

penelopeto said...

oh, i'm so sorry that i'm laughing about the can opener (just his scheming, not the beatin' on his sister). i know, i know, we're not supposed to encourage such things.

Mimi said...

This all started out so well ... and then went to hell, eh? But, as you've been able to spin it into something well-structured and funny, all is not lost! I imagine Pie has recovered from her braining, and I hope you'll be able to bask in the glow of Bub's many and varied milestones. :-)

Angela said...

That's wonderful news about Bub's progress, so glad you shared, and I agree, it's great to have loving grandparents who love to hear about the daily achievements/news.

There's nothing quite as heart warming than witnessing siblings who know exactly how to drive each other stark, raving mad, isn't that why we have more than one? Some days I just feel like a grossly underpaid, unappreciated, unloved referee.

Kelly said...

It's tough, isn't it? Protecting the siblings from one another.

You perfectly described the bewilderment I feel every time the nice play unravels, with the children pulling and tugging and screaming.

We haven't had any kitchen utensils thrown, but good Lord, my eldest will occasionally push or trip her little sister when she thinks my eyes have turned away. I get mad at her, but there's a large piece of my heart that feels for her. Her little sister gets away with so much!

It looks like Bub can hold his own though!

ewe are here said...

Oh dear.

T. said...

I suppose it would be somewhat inappropriate to offer congratulations on these new milestones. Ah screw it! Way to go Bub.

I have an annoying younger sis too, and I have wanted to hurl many an object at her head.

Have fun with his new stage. May it pass very quickly. For your sanity and his's sis's safety.

Kyla said...

Ahhh, the slightly less popular milestones. *lol*
Thanks for the Starfall website. It had BOTH my kids mesmerized for a bit last night. KayTar was deeply, deeply in love. She's never paid attention to the computer...but for letters?? She would do anything for letters.

bubandpie said...

Two more things:

1) Be reassured that the can opener did not actually make contact with the Pie's head (Bub's aim is not that good, even if his intent is indeed that awful).

2) My mom got home last night and reminded me that I was almost exactly Bub's age when I hucked a ball right at my newborn sister's head. And when she said, "Oh, that was an accident," I replied, "No it wasn't."

wordgirl said...

I remember those days. Now, of course, my boys are big enough to really beat the crap out of each other. Both scenarios are frustrating.

Aimee said...

Ah, the old "Yay, new milestones!" vs. "Gah! Stupid milestones" syndrome. We have the same thing. I sit at therapy with The Boy for 2 days a week (one OT session and one OT/speech combined session) and I watch him struggle with things like holding a crayon, un-velcroing his shoe, making eye contact when meeting people, having such severe decreased oral sensitivity that he can't lick ice cream or spit out toothpaste, and so on.
And then . . . he comes home and he works hard and he learns to spit! Hooray! And then he is spitting at his sister. Hooray? Not quite.
This is also the child who has very poor motor planning, but can apparently get it together enough to wait until I'm in the shower to use my electric screwdriver to open a battery-powered toy so that he can indulge in his favorite "calming" activity, which is putting AA batteries in his mouth. And if I come downstairs and catch him in the middle of his cloak-and-dagger shenanigans with the screwdriver? He says this,
"oh, bye, Mom. I wasn't doing anything with the batteries at all."
Riiiiight . . .

Pieces said...

Deer in headlights. I swear I spend half of my parental life looking like that. For example, the day Boykiddo asked me to explain herpes--in the car which was filled with OTHER PEOPLE'S KIDS.

Good times.

Momish said...

Bud's progress is all around stellar. And, I am sure your mom was impressed with his new found sly skills as well as his verbal ones! My mom is the same way with Piper. Everything that kid does is brilliant, even when it involves torturing the cat or deceiving her parents.

P.S. I love the story about you. Moms are so damn quick to remind of us of our shady pasts too!

lildb said...

Bub is scary-smart. And it's all so damn beautiful.

Mary Joan Koch said...

By 3, Michelle the scientist had memorized dozens of our picture books and was delighted to help her 5-year-old sister Anne read. Anne was upset that Michelle had learned to read two years before she did. Michelle would never admit she could read until she figured out phonics and all its exceptions. Anne rejoiced that knowing how to read was helping her learn phonics.

They learned to read the way they learned to walk. Anne at 9 months would hurtle her way through space until she collided with an immovable object. Michelle didn't try to walk until she could do it perfectly at 12 months. She had to be confident that Anne would not knock her down. Anne was comfortable about figuring out from context about 40 percent of what she read and making educated guesses. Michelle had to figure out how written English worked before she could tackle Little Bear.