A Pun Discovery

duck duck duck OfirAsif

Photo: Ofir Asif

 

The five-year-old bounded up the stairs. I could hear him giggling. He stopped two steps below the landing and tilted his head at me. A brown curl flopped over one eye and he blew at it.

“When does a duck duck?” he challenged.

I grinned at his giddiness. Language for this child had just began to turn more fun than frustration, and his emerging fascination was delicious. “When?”

He chortled. “When you throw something at it! Because …” he demonstrated, bobbing so deeply that I reached over to grab his shoulder to ensure he didn’t lose his balance on the steep stairs, “duck … like this … is same as … quack quack duck!”

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

“Just a Little Bit of Crumbs”

 

It was a few minutes before dinner.

He wanted a cookie.

His mother said the timing wasn’t great. He’ll have to wait. Can get one for dessert.

He frowned. His lips turned down in a pout but puckered in consideration as his eyes inspected the contents of the transparent cookie jar.

“But maybe I can taste it now,” he bargained. “Just a teeny tiny cookie, like this,” he pointed to a broken piece at the bottom of the jar. “You see, Mama? Just a little bit of crumbs …”

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

She couldn’t wait …

 

kindergarten shoes1

Photo: Pinterest

 

She went to sleep in her pink sparkle cupcakes pajamas but when her parents checked on her later at night, they found the five-year-old wearing her new uniform over it, down to the knee socks and shiny Mary-Janes, arms around her schoolbag.

“She’ll be all wrinkled in the morning,” Mom sighed.

“Leave her be,” Dad smiled. “We can iron out the creases in her clothing but I sure won’t want to smoothe out any of her excitement.”

 

 

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Rhyme Time

 

dragonhillart.blogspot.com

Photo: dragonhillart.blogspot.com

 

“Hi, bye, my, spy,” he walked in, grinning.

I smiled at the five-and-a-half year old. A head of brown curls and melt-you-on-the-spot dark-chocolate eyes, green glasses, summer freckles, a missing tooth from playground accident at age three, a superhero hearing aid. Pure charm.

“Why, shy, guy, cry?” he challenged.

“Why indeed?” I chuckled.

“Ask my dad,” he giggled. “He told me that one. One, sun, fun, done.”

“You’re rhyming a lot today!”

He nodded. “I’m practicing. My grandpa gives me a dime every time I rhyme.”

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

“A Case of Constant Disastering”

Geiger Counter

What upsets your cart? What throws you off? What drains your battery of oomph and energy? Do you get riled up in a flash but calm down glacially? Do you struggle to maintain the smallest bit of equilibrium while others seem to swim in zen-like Flow? Have you been told off for “over-reacting” and being “overly sensitive”? Does it, indeed, seem to be that e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g is just too much to process, let alone appreciate and thrive in?

That is how life is for a teenager I know.

She calls herself “a case of constant disastering.”

Her days are spent in never ending rush to keep up with assignments that don’t get done because she is too stressed to focus on them because she already worries she won’t manage and then doesn’t. She feels mired in conflict with her parents who she says don’t understand why “every little thing” throws her off. She struggles to attend to all the balls she perceives are in the air and thinks are hers to juggle (only to find out later some were not, and that she’d dropped the very ones she shouldn’t have) …

Her body swings from all out anxious to shutdown and molasses-like, weighed down by overwhelm. She blames herself for both, which only feeds the shame that feeds the stress that feeds more “constant disaster.”

She hates this about herself. She wishes to be someone different.

“I wish I could be stoic,” she says. “Strong, you know.”

“But you are strong,” I respond.

She shrugs. She knows. Some days more than others.

She understand how her body’s calibrations had gotten to be quite so delicate: born very prematurely and with serious medical issues that required many painful interventions, her nervous system (and psyche) could not really process the overwhelming stimuli she was exposed to. Her reactions still mirror some of the pathways that became the foundation of her default. Of her survival formation. Her parents, too, were terrified and anxious. Oh, they did their best in love and caring, but they, too, were scared. For her. For her future. Of hurting her. Of disconnecting something. Of something worse than disastrous.

Panic was real and tangible. Babies in that NICU die. She almost did. Twice.

They were all of them scared. Much of the time.

Is it a wonder, then, that life wobbles precariously tentative, at the smallest reminder?

“But I’m not a baby anymore,” she points at lanky limbs that have long ago outgrown any crib or incubator.

“I know,” I smile.

“Now I’m just a Geiger meter,” she complains, “and my body beeps ballistic at the smallest variation.”

“Tricky,” I nod. “Also … kind of skillful.”

She pouts, but then a smile pushes a small corner of her mouth and the other corner joins in and she grins, eyes atwinkle. “Yeah, like a full-on skill at constant disastering.”

 

For The Daily Post

Bumble Dog

http://www.redheart.com/free-patterns/dogs-crochet-bumble-bee-costume

Photo: RedHeart.com

 

“Our puppy is drunk!” The four-year-old announced mid-session.

“Drunk?” Their puppy was a five-month-old rescue mutt named Rooky, all paws, mischief and licking tongue. Still, surely I misheard. I looked at the mom.

“Well,” she clarified, her color rising, “he isn’t anymore!”

“But you said!” the boy accused.

“He was yesterday …” she conceded, redder still. “Drunk, I mean. He’s okay today.”

“Rooky drank Mama’s beer,” the boy offered helpfully.

Her blush intensified. “It’s not like that …”

“Mama had to pee and Rooky knocked her beer over and then he licked it up and he maked nasty burps and he walk funny. His burps smell like Mama’s beer,” the boy was on a roll. “Mama called the vet and he said Rooky is drunk. We taked him to the vet. Rooky even barfed.” The boy pointed out, impressed.

“Gramma said beer makes ‘bumble bee idiots dogs or not’,” he added in what I thought was a very grandma-like tone.

I’m considering the odds I might never see that mother in session again …

 

 

For The Daily Post

Tintinnabulation

multisyllabic

“I found some words with lotta syllables!” she announced and pulled a crumpled list out of her back pocket.

She and I have been working together for some time. Born very prematurely and with various – if not always visible – neurological challenges, she has had to work hard for every milestone, every skill, each speech-sound. At nine years old, she had good intelligibility in short words and brief phrases, but her clarity was still vulnerable in longer words or sentences.

“Hi-ppo-po-ta-mus,” she read, tapping syllables on the table. “Five!”

I smiled. This girl never needed prodding. Her internal motivation put most people to shame. If she put her mind to something, you better believe it that she’d go the distance for it, and then some. She wanted to be an actress and actresses needed good diction. She was going to make sure hers measured up.

“Ca-li-for-ni-ya and Phi-la-del-phi-a … both five! I-ma-gi-na-ry … five!”

She read several more words, repeating any one that lost a sound or two in the process. When she got it right, she repeated it again, insistent on perfection.

“My dad helped me find them,” she pointed to the list. “We had fun thinking them up in the car. We found lots of words with four … like ‘as-pa-ra-gus’ and ‘par-ti-cu-lar’, but not so many with five. Are there any words with even more, like … with six syllables?”

“Quite a few,” I smiled again. “Some you probably know.”

“Like what?”

“Responsibility.”

“Oh!” She whispered to herself and counted the syllables on her fingers, “yeah, six!”

“Capitalization”

“Like in writing?”

“Exactly like in writing. Then there’s: identification, autobiography, veterinarian, personification, generalization …”

She wrote each word down. Practiced saying it. “Do you know any weird ones with six syllables?”

“Hmm,” I nodded. “How about ‘discombobulated'”?

She laughed. “My grandma says that one.”

“How’s ‘extemporaneous'”?

She twisted her lips. “That’s not weird, just boring.”

It was my turn to laugh. “Fair enough.” I thought a moment. “Infinitesimal?”

“Not weird.”

She was going to make me work for it. “How about …” I winked, “mispronunciation?”

“Ha-ha, very funny,” she rolled her eyes. “Try again.”

She raised her eyebrows and waited. A moment ticked by as words trickled into my brain, six-syllabled but certainly not weird enough to qualify: visualization, spirituality, irregularity, disorganization, availability, cardiovascular. …

The room darkened as clouds passed over the sun and the wind picked up. The forecast promised thunderstorms. I was about to give up to a google search when a chime jangled in my window and with it came inspiration.

“I have it!” I exclaimed. “Tintinnabulation!”

 

 

For The Daily Post

Dish Dash

greek handbroom

She walked into the house to a flurry of activity: broom in one set of hands, brush in the other. Guilty faces. Unidentifiable smell.

“What…?”

“He started.”

“She told me!”

The woman narrowed her eyes and scanned the room. The counter looked okay. No scorch marks. No splatter on the stovetop and walls like the last time when they had experimented with tomato lava. A foot in pink sock moved in the periphery of her vision and she lowered her gaze to the floor: the toes had attempted to nudge away a white bit of something. Paper?

She sniffed. What was that smell. She knew it from someplace … reminded her of dusty flea markets. Like old ceramics. Ceramics? Ceramics!

The distance to the garbage pail was covered in one giant step, arm already extended to reveal … a heap of shards, jagged shiny white, all sizes.

To the cabinet, still unbelieving: Bowls, mugs, cups. A suspiciously bare corner.

Little feet shuffled, oh so guilty.

There were no plates in the sink. None in the dishwasher.

“What have you done?”

They spoke over each other. “He did it She told me to We had a Greek wedding …”

“…so we had to break the plates,” the younger one emphasized with more hope than conviction. Even at not-quite-four-years-old he knew he was in trouble.

As for the seven-year-old? No added confirmation was required beyond how this child who disappears whenever there’s anything resembling cleaning up, had gotten herself voluntarily busy with the broom.

She shook her head, too stunned to truly feel angry. Yet.

“Where’s your big sister?” The fifteen-year-old was supposed to be watching the younger ones. She better have an explanation!

Chins tilted in the direction of the basement. Eager to shift blame. Muffled sounds filtered through the closed door. She listened. The tune was eerily befitting.

“Doing what?”  … even though she already knew the answer.

The little one piped up. “She watching big fat Greek one wedding!”

 

 

For The Daily Post

A Local Princess

hello kitty slippers

Most late afternoons she arrives to session in frilly sleepwear and pink plush slippers, locks of hair damp from her bath. I’m on first name basis with her three varieties of Elsa nightgowns, her Dora robe, her Hello Kitty slippers, her Eloise headband.

She has no qualms traipsing the urban outdoors in jammies (or on a rare rescheduled morning, with brush-phobic bedhead). It may be that she’s five … but the short commute sure helps: she lives right across the street. No fuss. No sweat. No need to primp.

After all she is donning royalty to sleep.

 

 

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The boy who was a girl

spiderman

“I saw a boy who is a girl,” the six-year-old noted. We were wrapping up a session and he was coloring a Spider-Man drawing he’d made.

“Oh?” I offered. I don’t always know where things are heading when children offer out-of-the-blue declarations. Instead of assuming, I try to stay out of the child’s way till they say more or clarify.

“Yeah,” the little guy added. “He is a boy on the outside but he is really a girl on the inside.”

“I see.”

He lifted long-eyelashes with an adorable ‘is-she-really-listening-or-just-pretending-to’ look. When our eyes met, he nodded in satisfaction and lowered his gaze back to his drawing. He regarded it quietly for a few seconds then rummaged through the colored pencil box. “Aha!” he announced, pulled out the silver pencil, and meticulously drew squiggly lines over his superhero’s bodysuit.

“Yeah,” the boy said, “just like Spider-Man.”

I made a noncommittal noise in my throat and he looked up at me again, eyes slightly narrowed in concentration. “Yes,” the little boy stressed, “because you see, sometimes he is a regular man on the outside but he is still really Spider-Man on the inside.”