Tag Archives: language

The Princess And The Dragon

8 Jun

A few days ago, I was play-wrestling with my kids in the living room. They were beating me hands-downs. I mean, it’s hardly a fair contest, is it? There are two of them and one of me, so I was at a mathematical disadvantage right from the outset.

So anyway, there we were, rolling around on the floor. I was lying face-down trying not to choke on bits of carpet. James was sitting on my legs poking his very pointy elbows into my back. And George was trying to pull my head off my neck. All of a sudden, James lost his balance, rolled off me, and bumped his head lightly on the table.

Instantly, the wrestling came to an end (much to my relief, it must be said) and James started screaming in outrage, underscoring the theory that he was born with the drama queen gene that runs in my husband’s family. When I had managed to calm him down and convince him that not only was he not bleeding to death, he hadn’t even broken the skin, he said to me, “Do you know how much that hurt?”

“How much did that hurt?” I obligingly asked him.

He replied, “That hurt more than a pickle falling on my eyeball.”

James’ use of words is just incredible. His extensive vocabulary coupled with a colourful imagination results in word pictures unlike anything I’d be able to come up with. I mean, a pickle falling on your eyeball? How do you even think of that?

It beats the time we asked him to tell us a story, and he said, “Once upon a time there was a poo. The end.”

His imagination clearly wasn’t firing on all cylinders that day, although for a week after that, I couldn’t get the South Park song “ Mr. Hanky The Christmas Poo” out of my head.

More often than not, though, James does come up with really creative stories. It used to be that he would provide the plot and I would turn it into a coherent story, but now he doesn’t even need me to do that.

Yesterday evening, while I was cooking dinner, James was sitting at my desk busily working away with a piece of paper and a pencil. When he was done drawing, he joined me in the kitchen, showed me his picture, which depicted a girl standing at the window of a castle and a dragon flying by, and solemnly said, “I am going to tell you a story about this picture.”

I sat down with my boy and listened as he spun a wonderful tale…

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess who lived in a castle. She had long black hair and the prettiest dresses in the whole wide world. One day, Dragon came to visit the princess. She wasn’t scared, because this was a friendly dragon and she knew he wouldn’t hurt her. She took him to the back yard, and gave him tea and cookies.

The dragon told the princess that he wanted her to give him one of her pretty dresses. The princess asked why he wanted a dress, and he told her it was a surprise.

The princess had lots and lots of dresses, so she gave one to the dragon. He finished his tea, played in the sandpit, and then left with the dress in a plastic bag.

The next day, the dragon came back, and he had the handsomest prince in the world with him. The dragon said, “You were lonely so I made you a prince to marry. And my granny turned your pretty dress into a wedding dress.”

The prince and the princess loved each other, and the princess put on the pretty wedding dress, and they got married.

The end.

Personally, I think the princess was kind of slutty to get married to someone she didn’t know, but I still think it’s a lovely story.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pathfinderlinden/3118654532/)

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Band-Aid solution

9 Aug

This morning I had one of those little moments with George that I love so much, one of those “Wow” moments that indicate progress. I was engaged in my usual frenetic morning activity – getting myself ready, getting James ready, trying to find time to cram some breakfast into me, trying to keep up with James’ constant chatter and questions about why birds have feathers. George was still in his pyjamas – his morning routine is his Dad’s responsibility – and he was wandering around counting in his sweet little sing-song voice. I noticed him heading towards the stairs, and somewhat absently, I said, “George, where are you going?” George replied, “Upstairs”, and upstairs he went. I continued with whatever I was doing, and it was only about ten minutes later, when I was trying to shoehorn a reluctant James into his socks, that I suddenly thought, “Holy crap! George appropriately answered a ‘Where’ question!”

George’s speech – or the lack thereof – is a source of deep concern to Gerard and myself. We know that he can speak – in other words, he has the physical capacity to do so. We know from the sentences that he constructs out of fridge magnets that he has the vocabulary and the ability to string a decent sentence together.  He simply chooses not to talk. I don’t think he has anything against it, he just doesn’t see the point of it. He doesn’t see speech as a social communication tool, he sees it as a functional tool to be used only when he wants something and is not able to get it himself. This is why, when George answers a question so naturally and spontaneously instead of simply giving me a blank gaze and going on his way, it is a big deal. We are starting to see these little glimpses into a world of language for George, and it never fails to lift our spirits.

We had one of those glimpses about a week ago, when I was in the house doing the never-diminishing pile of laundry (I have come to the conclusion that clothes in laundry baskets actually reproduce) and George was playing in the sprinkler in the back yard. All of a sudden I heard him cry out in what sounded like pain. With James on my heels, I went out to see what was going on, and there he was, sitting on one of the patio chairs clutching his foot.  I asked him what was wrong, and he looked me right in the eye and said, “I need a Band-Aid”.  James, bless his little heart, immediately said, “I’ll get them!” and he hotfooted it into the house. While James was inside, I coaxed George into showing me his big toe, which had a cut on it from a thorn on a weed.

Now, previously, George would have simply freaked out.  The sight of blood, even a little bit of it, scares him a lot, to the point where he can barely function. But this time, he had presence of mind to hold it together for long enough to identify and label exactly what was needed. Once he had communicated it to me, he allowed himself to fall apart a little. He was visibly relieved when James came flying out of the house with the Band-Aids, and once the wound had been covered up, he calmed down completely.

I immediately went through the sequence of events with him. George got hurt. George knew he needed a Band-Aid. George asked for a Band-Aid. George got a Band-Aid, and now George is OK. That simple reinforcement was intended to cement in his mind that when he speaks, things happen that relate directly to what he is saying.

Now, if only that were the case when I try talking to my husband while he is channel-surfing…