I stand at the kitchen sink washing up.
A small person inserts himself between my body and the sink, face to face, or rather his face to my tummy.
His head tilts back to reveal a huge cheesy grin. I smile back and wait. I wait a bit longer, wondering what it will be this time and whether I shall ever finish the washing up?
“Are ya done?” he asks in a voice that is several octaves too low for a six year old.
“Nearly, just a few bits and bobs to go now.” He flits away, apparently satisfied. I stack the last of plates and dither as to whether I should fold laundry or wash the dining room following breakfast?
“Are ya done yet?”
“Yes! Do you need help with something?”
“Nope.” He stands still watching me.
“Are you sure, you’ve been asking me again and again, when I’ll be finished?”
“I need ya to be done.”
“I am done, er finished.”
“No! I mean……I need you to be goned.”
“Gone? Gone where?”
“Away,” he says breathily, a B actor in a horror movie.
“O.k. I’ll go away.” I walk slowly out of the kitchen in the sure and certain knowledge that he is up to no good.
I hide next door and listen intently. I imagine the many forms of mischief that he has planned. I hope none of them involve mess or danger? Maybe he wants to steal some food. Now that would be great. Perhaps some new food, or is that beyond the realms of imagination? I tip toe back towards the kitchen in case I can catch him in the act.
I catch him in the act. A shiver passes through his body as he slips into freeze frame, the cariciature of a thief, hand poised, thumb and finger pinched together to hold the egg slicer. The tableau crumbles, “don’t look, don’t look, don’t look!”
“Coz it might be blood,” he says in an ominous tone, a baritone for a boy.
“What might be blood?”
“Dah egg slice! It is a cutting fing. It is danger!”
“Oh I see!” I think? “Do you need help?”
“Um, no I am being dah danger, er…I am being dah brave.”
I consider bestowing bravery awards but decide that empowerment might be a better alternative. I dither. Maybe this is too much?
“Would you like to help me?” I suggest tentatively.
“What help are you?” How very disconcerting.
“I was thinking you could slice an egg for my sandwich with the egg slicer?”
He gasps, open mouthed and probably aghast, before blasting me with “dat is dah greatest idea!” I whip a hard boiled egg out of the fridge before he has a chance to change his mind, pop it in the cradle and guide his hands into the correct position.
“Off you go then, push it down.”
“Ooo, it is dah bouncy.” Why do they love eggs, even though no-one eats them?
“Push a little harder.” After all these years of occupational therapy, he still doesn't have the strength of force to resist an egg.
“Ooo dah egg is dah strong!” What is the magical property of an egg?
“You’re doing great, just a little bit harder.”
“Ooo he such a lovely cutesy wootsy eggy poos. I am loving being dah good helper.”
He uses his most persuasive tone as he woos the egg into submission. As the wires break through and reveal their slices, his tone changes to a nasal protest, “but you sure are dah stinkiest too!”
So much progress is such a short passage of "time."
It is because of these kinds of experiences that I worry about the effects of early "childhood" as you can see from my tiny "book review."
Saturday, August 25, 2007
If you had to sum up your child in a few sentences, how would you do it? Why would you want to anyway?
I want to. I need to clarify but not diminish.
If you met my son you’d know that there was something different about him, even before he spoke, if he spoke at all. Maybe you’d think he was a bit of a klutz. He certainly looks lethargic. He doesn’t have much to say for himself, but he’s well liked. He is a kind and sensitive child, tentative and definitely an indoor type. He sleeps like an angel nearly every night. His primary interest at the moment happens to be Pokemon. Should I mention that we love him dearly as all parents do?
We take the first tentative step after 8 years and visit the psychiatrist for another evaluation of my highly atypical autistic son. The prescription is exorbitant.
Within 45 minutes, the son we are familiar with, is invaded by an interloper. We panic, dither and fret. Who is this child? Where is our son? We have no idea who this boy is?
There is nothing to be done. We have to wait for it to wear off. We know that no permanent damage will be done and it will be out of his system within 24 hours. We have another quick panic or two before we give up and decide to get to know the visitor a little better, before he disappears again.
We sit in the garden at the table. The other two children have finished their breakfast and disappeared inside to watch telly, while we watch our other son. We ignore the other two. They may have to watch telly all day, whilst we concentrate on this one. We watch the stranger who picks at his croissant as he has no appetite at all. I find a bottle of chocolate Ensure to tempt him, but his interest in stealing those bottles and drinking the contents, has also been stolen.
My semi silent son has been replaced with someone who talks incessantly. His voice is so quiet we can hardly hear him, but he is so animated that we strain to catch every delightful syllable. Instead of 95% Pokemon treatises, he taunts us with social chit chat. The old pal that he met up with at Summer school, what he likes, what he doesn’t. Every so often, he will pause, shake his head to mutter, “this is just a crazy day,” or “what a crazy day,” or “this is such a crazy day.” Each time it’s more or less the same words, but each time there is a different emphasis, it is not scripting nor echolalia. We chat to our chatty son, baffled.
He is unable to swim because of the stitches in his finger. Two children swim whilst he sits at my side. He knows that swimming daily is a healthy form of exercise. He jumps up to announce, “if I can’t swim I’ll do my jogging instead,” and trots of to run three circuits around the pool without falling over or bumping into anything. I have never known him run anywhere voluntarily and certainly not without prompting and encouragement.
He is interrupted from his exercise by a bee. He returns to my side to sit. He sits for 45 minutes, outside the house, by my side without pummeling me for his deep proprioceptive input. Instead I watch his feet work. His legs circle at the knee. They slip the flip flops on, and then off again. He does this continuously for 45 minutes. In-between whiles his toes clench and unclench, each digit in turn like an arpeggio on the piano keys. Most days I cannot get him to put on a pair of shoes at all. Putting on a pair of sandals usually takes between 5 and 15 minutes for two shoes. I am uncertain whether to laugh or cry.
His body riles, a pit of snakes that roil and writhe. He is in a state of perpetual motion, unprecedented. His huge eyes are wide open in an expression of interest and surprise. He grinds his teeth as his face registers change like the riffle of a well shuffled deck of cards. His mouth tic is the worst it has ever been and the dribble is unmistakable. Inside the house he walks with stiff legs, around and around and around, a bear without a cage. His shoulders are high, so that he has no neck, head set at angle whilst his face is that of an expert gurner. Both arms are crooked and locked, one bent at the elbow to display a branch of twig fingers. He continues to chat. I am terrified and ecstatic.
He runs about the house with a purpose. He has several different purposes throughout the day. One purpose doesn’t encroach upon another. He manages each one separately without distractions, interference or interruptions. I have no idea what is happening in his head, I can only see what is happening to his body and guess.
When bed time arrives at 8, he is still wired. We allow his siblings to slumber. Downstairs during the night time, is a distressing time. He does not understand why he cannot sleep. We discuss the matter with him because we can, discuss, that is to say. We read books and cuddle the boy who is no longer an interloper but a fine new friend.
Eventually, just after two in the morning, he falls asleep.
Cheer up, it's a small price to pay, in "theory."