First thing most mornings, senior son has his full repetoire of words and more importantly, he is willing to demonstrate their use. This child’s speech delay has transformed him from non-verbal for semi verbal, although an expert has yet to confirm this. He can struggle to retrieve the word ‘green,’ [translation = expressive language, what he can actually say] and yet in the alternative, use the preferred world of ‘chartreuse.’ [translation = receptive language, the words that he understands as they come in.]
This is in part why it is so difficult to accurately assess language use. I would liken it to being unable to remember the name of a film, an actor, that woman who used to live at the house at the end of the road; it’s on the tip of your tongue but you just can’t hook it. The frustration this causes, often means that it preferable not to speak at all but it is debatable whether a meltdown in the alternative is better? I need him to practice using words. The meltdowns are a by-product of his effort.
Although breakfast and the morning routine is fraught with stumbling blocks for the unwary, his ability to talk coherently often leaves me breathless with amazement and unadulterated joy. In a home full of rigid narrow rules I gasp at his expertise. Breakfast cereal follows fruit consumption. The fruit is compulsory as this is when they are at their most hungry. The reward, is a choice of about half a dozen types of cereal, some more preferred than others. The choice is limited by cupboard space. Until one box of cereal is empty, when there is room for a replacement, they are denied additional choices.
He skips to the cupboard and clambers up on the counter for a better view as I start my verbal protest. He waves a hand in my general direction saying sotto voce, “now just calm down now, it’s gonna be o.k.” He says it to [me], not to himself as he usually does. The cupboard is stuffed to overflowing, “now let me see,” he pauses, his eyes flicking between the cupboard and my face as he calculated. He jumps down with alacrity and heads off to the garage and additional cereal packets, but now before calling over his shoulder to advise me, “I be right back, you just wait there nicely.” Not only at the phrases appropriate and delivered in a fluid flow, but he turned his head towards me whilst running in the opposite direction. Although this increases his chances of an accident, the very act of turning his head to send his message is striking.
When he reappears with a new packet, leaps onto the counter and jams the box between the others, he announces in triumph, “you see! It fits! I was right, you were wrong, but that’s o.k. I forgive you.”
He tumbles back onto the floor. He visually checks that I am in the correct position before he turns his body forward again, so that he can gently reverse into my body, so that we curve together like spoons. His hands reach back to hold my thighs before he does a little jig, a backwards cuddle. To you it is disconcerting with sexual undercurrents. To me it is the demonstrative child exhausted by his speech efforts, yet wanting to communicate affection.