Seemingly overnight, something has clicked, and Ryan is asking for the things he wants - in sentence form.
"Can I have more milk please?"
"Can I have fire please?" (This meaning, "Light the fireplace.")
"Ask calmly, can I play a George game?" (This one follows my asking him, "How do you ask?")
I'm really proud of him. We're asking him to learn so many things at the same time, and he's really putting it all together. When a kid takes his ball, Ryan remembers to use words to demand its return; when he wakes up at some stupid hour of the morning, he usually remembers to stay in his room until his clock lights up green; today he only needed to be prompted once to provide the correct response when Stu said, "Goodbye, Ryan." I've been feeling pretty good about the direction things are going here.
So I thought we could handle a playdate with Grace. We got to the park first, of course - it's much easier for us to get in the car and drive 20 minutes than it is for a 38-months-pregnant woman to get an almost-4-year-old and an almost-2-year-old across the street. While we were waiting for them, Ryan slipped on some gravel and sliced his palm open pretty badly. I dragged him across the street to Dana's house to clean the wound.
Grace came to the locked screen door. "We're meeting you in the park, not here," she pointed out. I told her to get her mother to open the door. While I was washing Ryan's hand, Grace told me, "When I was a baby and hurt myself, I didn't cry." I assured her it's perfectly ok to cry, and resisted saying "I've known you since you were a baby; you totally cried."
When we all finally got to the park, Ryan was still sulky and in pain. He was gripping a paper towel (because he hates band aids) and trying to climb ladders without using his right hand. Dana suggested Grace go on the slide with Ryan; Grace started whining. Then little Stella was having a fit about the swings, so Dana and I couldn't exactly just sit and chat. When we did start having a conversation, Grace needed to get in on it. "Do you know my friend Elana?" she asked me. "Well, we went to..." I must admit I wasn't listening. "Are you eating dinner? At the house? I want you to eat dinner at our house!"
Ryan came to me and asked me for his juice. I alerted Dana to how well he had asked, and started to gush about how well he's been doing with things like that. She nodded and smiled, but clearly didn't really understand what I was so excited about. I said, "I know this is all stuff that Stella has probably been doing for a while."
"Yeah," she agreed. Her seeming inability to grasp what a big deal this was hung in the air.
I engaged the kids in non-verbal activities, like rolling down a hill. Then Grace announced, "I think it's time for the girls to go into a meeting." As Ryan was the only boy around, this was clearly a rejection of him. Ryan was still miserable because of his hand, and I wasn't much happier, so shortly after this, we left.
Why the hell did I think that playdate was a good idea? I should have listened to Ryan when he told me he wanted to go to a different park.
Which brings up another thing that impresses me: I love how Ryan can distill the essence of something and express it to me in a single word, said in such a way that I know exactly what he's talking about. The park he wanted to go to has a big playground, fields, a large pond, and a small stream with a wooden footbridge across it. He likes to throw rocks into the stream and chase geese across a field. He calls this park "Water." The park across from Dana's house has a small playground at street level, a giant boulder to climb, a steep hill that leads to a tennis court, and baseball fields; he calls this park "Hill." The simplicity is elegant, almost haiku-like.
I don't think Dana would be impressed by this, either.