Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Getting What He Wants Without Words

The Pookie is almost 17 months old. He has really great receptive language skills. He obviously understands a great deal, and he generally knows what the words are that we are saying to him. His own verbalizing, however, is not as advanced as his receptive skills. He does have quite a few words, but his pronounciation leaves a lot to be desired.

For example, instead of "mama," he says "nahnah." I'll take it, of course, cause at least he's saying something intending to be mama. But he does not pronounce Ms when he should. He also says "ick" instead of "milk," but he accompanies it with the sign for milk, which he does for some other words, too. He's makes specific noises and is learning the signs for cracker, cereal, water, more and all done. Actually, he has the words "all done" down pat.

For many other words or to convey meaning, he indicates with gestures and noises which we try to figure out. He gets frustrated, and that frustration comes out in ways I'm sure you all know. He gets mad and yells, he fusses and whines, and he throws things and has tantrums when thwarted or unable to get what he wants. In other words, he's a toddler with limited verbal skills.

Yesterday morning, the boy was up at 5:00. I tried to get him to go back to sleep, but it was no use. I let him play in his room for a while, but he kept fussing. Finally, at about 6:30 I brought him downstairs to feed the dog and just be somewhere else where he hopefully wouldn't wake up his sister and dad.

He was very happy to be downstairs. He helped me feed the dog and let her out, and then I went to get him milk. In fact, he asked for milk by name, though not sign. "Ick! Ick!" he said, pointing to the fridge. "Yes, yes. I'm getting your milk," I told him.

But when I handed him his sippy cup of milk, he yelled, "NO!" and slammed it down. "But little guy, that's what you asked for," I reminded him. But still, no. He didn't want the sippy cup. I decide to try him with water, which is sometimes what he wants instead of milk. Nope, no water. He again says milk and points to the fridge. I try to hand him his sippy cup, but that's still not what he wants.

He went to the cabinet with the kids' stuff. Oh, have I mentioned that he can totally undo all the baby-proofing on the cabinets? Yeah, that's fun. So he opens the baby-proofed cabinet and takes out a kid spoon. He walks back to the table. I think, well, maybe he's hungry. I try to put him in his highchair, but he freaks out.

Okay, no highchair. That's not new. Lately, he's started climbing in the real chairs around the table and wanting to be there unstead of the highchair. Over the weekend, we pulled out the Pumpkin's old booster seat for him to use at the table, and he's liked that a lot. Which of course means he rarely wants to be in the highchair, although he still sometimes tries to climb in it to indicate that he's hungry.

Even in my half-awake daze, I realize that he seems to want something specific. I start to piece it all together. He got a spoon and wants milk from the fridge. He is by the table but doesn't want to get in his highchair. It's morning and he's been up for quite a while, and he didn't eat much for dinner the night before. I think he must be hungry, and he usually has cereal in the morning. He doesn't usually remember the sign for cereal and I've never heard him say the word cereal, at least in a way I've understood.

So I ask him, "Do you want cereal?" He makes babbles that are not in disagreement. I go to the kids' cabinet and pull out a kid bowl. He looks excited by this development. I put the bowl on the table. I pull out Life and Cheerios and offer both to him. He quickly moves straight for the Life cereal.

I put that and the spoon on the table and help him climb into the booster seat at the table. He picks up the spoon and points to his bowl, making "ooo ooo" noises. I pour in the cereal, and he's obviously happy. He says "ick ick!" and I pour in the milk.

Delighted, he happily starts digging in to his cereal with both spoon and hand, as he does these days. He's sitting where he wants, eating exactly what he wants, eating the way he wants. Oh yes, he's a happy boy now!

Although he can get across what he wants without having the words, it would have been much easier and quicker if he did have the words. Someday, he will. For now, we'll keep trying to figure it out in other ways and teach him more signs.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Question of the Week - Joining the Circus

I just finished the book Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen. I LOVED it. It's been a while since I found a book this engaging, this enjoyable from cover to cover. It was well written and well researched, with interesting characters and a good plot. Best of all? It was all about the circus!

There is just something about the circus. Something dreamy, something magical. Even knowing that some of it is pure illusion, there is still a lot of hard work and the feats that people and animals can do is just amazing.

Londo's never been to the actual circus. When we were in grad school in Georgia, the circus was coming to town. I really wanted to take him, but he said he wanted to wait and go his first time with his own kids. That was so sweet that I didn't push it, even though I would have really enjoyed going to the circus. (A few years later, we did go to a Cirque du Soleil show, and though absolutely amazing, it's not the same as an actual circus.)

So I've been waiting... until we had kids... until the kids were old enough... still waiting, but the time is getting closer.

In fact, just yesterday, the Pumpkin was pretending that we were in a circus. She put the booster seat on the ground and stood on it like she was the ring master, and she called out to me and the Pookie, "Okay guys! We are in the circus. We are going to do tricks. Mommy, you go first!"

So I did some jumps and then bowed while she clapped. Then she did some silly dance, and we clapped. Then we got the Pookie to stomp his foot, which he does when someone says "stomp." He stomps one foot while saying, "stomp stomp stomp." And we clapped for him. It was great fun. But not nearly as much fun as we'll have after they've seen their first real circus! I can't wait to see what tricks they pretend to do then!

This week's question of the week is:

If you were in the circus and could do anything, what act/trick would you want to do?

Although I love the idea of doing an act with animals, I have always wished that I could be a trapeze artist. All that swinging and flying around from bar to bar. Flipping in the air and getting caught (hopefully!) and swung again. It sounds thrilling! I have heard that there is a camp or something that you can take somewhere where you can learn to swing on a trapeze. Maybe someday I can at least do that.

What about you? What would your circus act be? Did you ever dream of running off to join the circus? Did you ever threaten to send the kids (or pets) to the circus? I've done both, although not the latter actually to the kids. Yet. Heh.