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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The power of ten

Last week

Now that their speech delays are less delayed, they will often ask questions, which is a monumental leap forward for everyone.

Their willingness to try and communicate with words, is still hard work for them. As parents, we have to make their attempts at communication successful. The theory goes, that the more success they achieve, the more willing they will be to keep going or give it another try.

Both my boys have a tendency to ask very precise questions for which they require specific and instant answers. Failure by the parent, frequently results in a meltdown in the child. If you are a child and you have a speech delay, talking, or using your words, is hard work. On the whole it is usually much easier for you to get what you want by skipping the words stage and screaming instead. You will find that if you scream a lot, your parent is likely to be much more efficient and far speedier at fulfilling your request. Works like magic every time, let me assure you.

The stumbling block for me, is whilst this progress is all fine and dandy, it’s very difficult to make their experience successful if they leave out pertinent details, or reference back. Their questions come out of the blue with no clues attached.

In an ideal world, I’d like to change things. I would prefer to confine question time to a specific period of the day, where I would be more than happy to field all enquiries. That time, would be a time of my choosing. A convenient time, preferably one where I am already awake, when my brain is fully functioning and my power pack of patience is full.

I do not live in an ideal world.

Early in the morning my son appears before me in his pyjamas that are several sizes too small.
“Is it ten?” he asks with an anxious expression.
“Is what ten dear?”
“Ten yet?” I look at him and think hard. Is he waiting for ten o’clock? What, if anything, could or should be happening at that time? I think of the tick down chart that shows them how many more days of summer holidays they have left. We check it every day so that the first day of school doesn’t come as a surprise of nightmare proportions. But that’s still 6 days away. I think of other numbers that might be relevant, that he might have mixed up? None of the daily timers have been set yet. They advise them all of the high points of the day, like snack time and electronics time. Is this a reference back to growing older and his fear of reaching double digits? Ten. It is no-one favourite number around here. I dither. Is it to do with something recent or the ancient past if not ancient history?

I don’t want to provoke a meltdown this early in the morning, as I am not mentally prepared at 5:50 a.m. A meltdown first thing in the morning is a pre-cursor to a bad day, a very long bad day. If I keep him waiting too long he’ll have a meltdown anyway. I have nothing to lose by asking a return question, as I’m already out of the limited time allowance permitted at this stage of their development.

“Ten what dear?” He holds up his hands, palms towards my face, instead of using any words.
“Ten fingers?” I ask pathetically. His head slumps to his chest in exasperation. Stand by, here it comes, I’ve blown it, he’s out of patience. He sighs wearily and then his body starts his little gallopy hopping dance, which means that his brain is processing and he’s gathering speed and words are forming a sentence which very soon, he may be able to utter…….. ”No, I mean……..is it ten days…….for my finger……to take the "stitches out?”

Well I'm glad that one of us is with it.
Boy 1, mother 0.

And in my other "life."

Blink of an eye – Tuesday supplemental

Not so long back, they started Pre-school and such like. Their exposure was staggered. 30 minutes for the first day. Internment with constant screaming. The time was gradually increased until a whole morning of three and a half hours was achieved.

Now as they start 4th, 3rd and 2nd grade, I rather think that this would be a good approach again. It seems grossly unfair that they should be expected to spend a whole day in school, 6 hours and 25 minutes. Draconian. They should be allowed to gently ease into the new school year by small increments, after weeks of idleness. It’s not that I won’t enjoy my child free hours, it’s more a question of sharing. Recently, my eldest son has been talking prodigiously, for a whole 4 days in fact. This means that for the many other days in the long summer holiday, he wasn’t. I need to rewind the summer holidays to the beginning, so I can have the benefit of all those missed talking days. Why should the school get them instead? Maybe I could rewind to when he was two and a half, a re-run? Then it was that all the lovely little baby words started to fade and fizzled out like a damp squib.

I have no evidence in support, but after 8 years, I know that the school squanders his word bank during the day and then returns my son to me, silent. I am not a good sharer. I content myself with the knowledge that the first fortnight consists of two four day weeks.

I focus on the label of the liquid multivitamins, give up and take a glug to wash down a couple of Ibrupofen.

I pick up the abandoned play things, the toilet brush, screw driver, curtain pull and magic wand. I look across at the bank of idle timers on the table that have no-one to sequence, coax and calm. I need a complete rest. Six hours and 25 minutes.

Instead I commit myself to hard labour in the garden because my cherry tomatoes have a personality disorder. They’ve invaded the Honeysuckle . I need to prune their ambitions as they dangle over the 10 foot fence. Maybe? I dither. I decide to conduct a scientifically, controlled experiment. How long does it take to turn your body into a pickled walnut? Bath or shower? I pick up the timer, the egg one. I set it for two hours and 15 minutes. I don’t want to forget that appointment at the manicurist. I turn the timer on and my brain off.

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