Tuesday, February 28, 2012

From Grapes to Applesauce

When a child can not speak much, it is easy to forget - or worse, not realize - that his brain is still absorbing and processing information; that he knows far more than he lets on. And when you can see glimmers of what's swirling around inside his head, it can take your breath away.

The other night I asked Ryan to tell Daddy what we had done that day.

No response.

"Where did we go this morning?"

Blank stare.

I tried to lead him: "We went to the...?"


"To the sssss..."


I modeled the answer: "We went to the supermarket."

Stu tried to make conversation with Ryan: "What did you get at the supermarket?"

Ryan: "We got all the food."

Stu: "Oh wow! What's the first food you got?"

Ryan: "Grapes."

Holy crap. I realized he was right: grapes were the first item he put into the shopping cart.

Stu tested Ryan's memory further: "What was the last thing you bought?"

Ryan (after a brief, thoughtful pause): "Applesauce."

Again, correct. It is possible that he remembers our entire grocery purchase, including the order in which we picked up each item. But there's no way I could really test him on this, because I sure don't remember that.

I would kill for the memory this child has. Now if only I could find a way to use his powers for eeeeevil....

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tag Trouble...or not.

For about three days, Ryan decided that Clothing Shall Not Have Tags. This was not based on a sensory aversion, as you might have expected; this was an aesthetic choice. The issue is that Clothing Shall Not Have Writing Inside.

Suddenly, the underwear he's been wearing for a year became unacceptable because the laundering instructions are printed on the inside of the fabric (those "tagless tags" that can't possibly itch). Pants that he's worn a hundred times without issue became untouchable because they have washing instructions attached. And when I offered to cut the tags out, Ryan had a fit: the clothes had already been tainted, so scissors wouldn't help.

Writing on the front of a shirt seemed to be perfectly acceptable. Sweatpants with a small logo were borderline. The tag in his jacket went entirely without comment.

And then as suddenly as his complaints started, they stopped.

I just can't keep up with the rules around here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I like this now yet any too.

"I do not like this now yet any too."

Suddenly, Ryan has words.

A lot of words.

And they don't help.

Somehow inspired to enhance his language, Ryan has determined he needs to make his sentences longer, but instead of adding adjectives that might help me understand what he's talking about, he just tacks a bunch of extra stuff on the end.

And sometimes these enhancements negate what he's actually trying to communicate.

"I don't not like this now at all yet."

"The sun is more rising setting up."

I'm just glad he's making an effort to use words. Who cares if they don't make sense?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Curse of the Black Spot

The other night Ryan was finishing his grilled cheese sandwich when he suddenly started complaining, "Get the black spot out of my mouth!"

My first instinct was that there was a tiny burnt fleck on the bread that had somehow offended his sensibilities (I can't even describe what happens if a corner of his sandwich gets contaminated by the ranch dressing he uses as dip for his carrots). I pretended to wipe an imaginary spot off his tongue and told him he was fine.

But he wasn't fine.

"Aaaagh, get the black spot out of my mouth!"

I looked in his mouth - saw nothing.

"Where's the spot, baby?"

"It's in my mouth!"

Right. Thanks.

I offered him some juice to wash the black spot away. It didn't help.

Then I tried fishing for information. Did the black spot taste yucky? Did it hurt?

"It's in my mouth!"

I thought back to a conversation I had had with a friend, in which she recounted how her three-year-old had come home from preschool and asked her, "Mommy, you'd never let anyone hurt me, would you?" and had proceeded to answer a battery of questions so that her mother understood exactly why she was upset (the girl got scared when a teacher yelled at her). I thought back to my sense of awe that my friend could have that five-minute conversation with her young daughter and could get right to the business of figuring out what to do about the situation at hand.

I held out two hands. "Does the black spot taste yucky," I asked, indicating my left hand, "or does it hurt?" I indicated with my right. He ignored both choices and started shrieking.

I called my dad. My dad has an impressive ability to approach problems from... unusual perspectives, getting inside the head of someone working with atypical logic.

I put Ryan on speaker phone with his grandpa. Ryan wailed about the Black Spot; Grandpa commiserated with him. "I think what you have to do," my dad offered sagely, "is to drink some milk. You see, the milk is white, and the white milk will cancel out the black spot."

This sounded good. Ryan agreed to try it.

It didn't help.

Ryan was getting frantic about getting the Black Spot out of his mouth.

I thought of one last trick: if the Black Spot was a bad taste, then eating a cookie should fix everything. Ryan took one bite of a gluten-free Oreo-type thing and cried harder than ever. "Oh, it didn't WORK! I've tried EVERYTHING!!!" he wailed.

There must be an organic reason for all this, I realized. I stuck a flashlight in his mouth and looked around.


The Black Spot, it turns out, is code for Four-molars-are-all-cutting-through-at-the-same-time-and-my-mouth-hurts. It only took me an hour to figure that out.

Antidote for Black Spot: Advil and an old toothbrush to chomp on.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Losing It

Ryan likes losing things.

He doesn't just happen to lose things and get upset about it; he actively goes out of his way to lose things just so he can have a fit that they're lost.

He'll be playing with small toys and make a big show of shoving them behind a bookcase, then cry out in horror, "Oh no! It's gone forever! What we got to do?

He will cram foam letter stickers into the radiator cover while saying, "The letters can not go in the radiator" (meaning, they are not allowed to go there). Then he will be devastated when the stickers don't instantly drop out on the floor.

So I was not exactly surprised that this morning he put yet another toy into the hole in our hollow metal door frame that the doorknob catch thingy sticks into. What did throw me was what he chose to lose down that hole:

A Hexbug Nano.

That was turned on.

This is a tiny robotic insect that scurries around by vibrating.

It vibrates really loudly when it's stuck at floor level in a metal door frame.

At 6:30 in the morning.

A couple of days before yet another open house to try to sell our apartment.

I immediately burst into the bathroom while Stu was in the shower and announced, "We have a major situation here." We started simultaneously plotting how to get the vibrating bug out of the wall - drill through metal! short out the batteries with water! get a four-foot-long grabbing tool! - and who to sell our son to.

Meanwhile, the kid was crying that his bug was lost forever, and how are we going to find it?

How indeed. I told him, of course, that if we ever did figure out how to get the bug out of the door frame, he would never see it again.

More tears.

Stu tried talking to Ryan like one would talk to a typical child, saying things like, "You caused this problem, so you don't get to cry about it." But this was predictably ineffective. Ryan's brain doesn't seem to process the connection between action and consequence like a typical six-year-old's might. In his mind, even though he has already lost four toys down that hole, we might magically be able to save the fifth one.

Fortunately, this toy had crappy batteries that died after less than two hours (Ryan got the bug for Christmas, and I think he had played with it a total of 30 minutes prior to today). My apartment's super assured me that our metal door frame is enclosed and there's no chance the sudden silence in my wall is due to the bug wandering off somewhere else in the building. And Home Depot sells this foam crap you can use to fill in holes.

Crisis averted until Ryan gets home from school and asks for his bug back.