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Monday, April 07, 2008

Trade off

We gallop to the restaurant at a cracking pace.

Because it is morning, my son has a full word bank available to him. He talks non-stop, coherently if you ignore the stutters and stammers, which I barely notice as I'm riveted to his message.

My daughter is shifty, “he’s doin it again Mom. Everyone’s lookin at us.” Of course the street is devoid of foot passengers, as the cars whiz by on a Sunday. Her little brother doesn’t talk, nervous of the traffic, ruffled by the wind, anxious about the passage of time, destinations and whether the fries will be too hot to eat for a few minutes, a few very long minutes.

We have already practiced what we will do when the fries arrive and they are too hot. We spent a riotous 20 minutes at home where I demonstrated all his usual ‘behaviours’ when this obstacle occurs. I wasn’t as loud as him but seeing your mother roll around on the ground in protest, uttering all too familiar scripts, can sometimes touch your funny bone and release some of the pent up tension.

He’s ready to try and that’s all that I could wish for.

“Mom! Get him to stop!” her head whips around to check who is watching. I watch my son chat. Quite often when one thing is going exceptionally well, other things fall by the way side. For right now, speech flows, communication bubbles but his bodily co-ordination is barely hanging together. I find I have a growing interest in Lilo and Stitch which makes a refreshing change from Pokemon as today's topic. I may just have to bury yet another of my prejudices against supposedly harmless cartoons.

It is quite miraculous that he has managed to remain vertical at all as his loose limbed form tumbles, bumbles and circles at high speed on tippy toes. His knees keep tangling, his feet keep snagging. Two skinny boot-lace legs dangling in the breeze. Somehow or other we continue to move in the general direction of the restaurant. He must be traveling at least four times the distance from the rest of us. I am struck by the fact that I would find this feat, dancing and chatting, completely impossible.

But it’s not that which bothers her. She’s bothered by his arms. His shoulders are hunched by his ears, arms are bent at the elbow, slightly extended with the hands crossed in space. He maintains this rigid formation without effort. It’s a very common stance both here and elsewhere. For some of us it’s a classic. It is as if his body belongs to a third party, someone who choreographs movement, remotely, at long distance, with a weak, intermittent signal. I'm tempted to scoop him up before he falls flat on his face, to have that beaming face close to mine. The only part of him that seems to be under control is his head, where his facial expression is also a classic, happiness.

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