Nana the Notorious

RandyDinkins-grandparent

Betterphoto.com

 

He strode up the steps with a grin as wide as the Mississipi, a cup the size of Texas in his hands. The bright contents were positively florescent. His teeth were cornflower blue. His tongue looked painted.

“I have a slushy!” he announced.

“I see!” I commented, amused.

“Nana got me,” he added.

I smiled. I didn’t think his mom – who kept close watch over her son’s intake of junk of any form – would have gotten him this “certainly-no-food-in-nature-has-this-color” slushy, let alone a bathtub of it.

“Mama’s not home,” the boy declared. “She coming back Friday.”

“In San-Francisco,” Nana made an appearance at the landing leading to the last flight of stairs. “Business meetings.” She was a little out of breath but seemed as ebullient as her grandson. Her arms were laden with the boy’s panda bear backpack, her purse, a shopping bag, a phone, and her own cup of icy drink. Coffee, from the looks of it.

“Nana taking care of me,” he stated the obvious. He snuck a conspiratorial grin at his grandmother. “We got candy!” he pointed to the bag.

“For after dinner,” she blushed.

“But I can have one now,” he clarified. “Nana said.”

Her blush deepened and I chuckled.

“For right now, how about you take another sip or two from your slushy, then we’ll put it in the fridge where it can stay cold while we work,” I said.

The boy deflated some and glanced at his grandma, maybe to see if she’ll support him in a mutiny if he refused to part with his icy treat.

“I’ll take a sip from my ice-coffee and we can put my cup in the fridge, too,” she soothed. “This way we’ll both have some for the ride home, too!”

He pondered, eyebrows still in a huddle. “But I can have candy, right?”

She looked at me. “It’s gummies.”

“Sure,” I nodded. “You can have one, like Nana said you could. The rest will wait in the bag for you.”

His smile returned and he slurped more of the blue liquid. Then we ceremoniously made room for it in the fridge. Even without the tall straw, it dwarfed Nana’s “grande” cup.

The boy wiped both hands on his shirt, reached into the shopping bag and dug out a yellow gummy shaped suspiciously like a spider. He laughed at my exaggerated fright. “You’re silly! It’s not real. It’s just candy!”

He stuffed it into his mouth and spoke around it as he shimmied to his seat. “We having pizza for dinner, and we’ll watch a whole movie after. With popcorn even!”

“Sounds like you two are making the most of it,” I laughed.

“She’s so strict with him,” the grandmother confided. “She’s a great mom, don’t get me wrong, but all this no this, no that …” She caressed her grandson’s cheek and lowered herself to the couch with a sigh. “These stairs!”

“A kid’s gotta’ live a little,” she added. Her eyes sparkled. “I have him for two days and I intend to do my very best to spoil him.”

 

 

For The Daily Post

You Better!

rainy day

 

He came up the stairs, looking like a cross between a drowned kitten and a frog: wet hair, clinging shirt, useless green umbrella and matching boots (with sloshy feet inside).

I smiled at him. He sighed.

“Yeah, I know,” he said, “I better …”

His father nodded.

Coded language.

I’ve heard it before.

“You better come right now!” “You better sit down quietly!” “You better not hit your brother!” “You better listen to the babysitter!” “You better not forget your homework again!” “You better not get this floor wet …”

You better? Better how?

More like “your life will be much worse, unless …”

I swallowed my own sigh. I don’t abide much by the “you better” style of communication. The dad was probably parroting the coded-directions of his own upbringing, spurred by habit, rigid expectation, his own fatigue.

“Looks like you two got caught in the downpour,” I smiled, took their umbrellas, and offered towels, a mat to put their footwear on, a plastic bag for wet things, a pair of dry socks for the boy. The minutia of a rainy day.

“He kept goofing around,” the dad grumbled. He pointed at the drenched boy in accusation, though he was only marginally less wet than his son (and had a bigger umbrella!). The father patted his arms dry, patted his son’s hair. He seemed embarrassed and glared at the errant rain drops on the floor as if they were proof of his son’s weathery misdemeanor.

“I ran because I didn’t want to get wet!” the boy retorted, eyes glistening.

“Sometimes there’s not much one can do to stay dry,” I soothed, and lifted the bag of extra child-size socks to emphasize my point. “It is raining hard and it is windy, too, so the umbrella probably can’t do much. I’d gotten soaked. Had to change.” I pointed at my clothing. “Not what I had on earlier.”

The boy threw a vindicated glance toward his dad.

“You better not give me any sass,” the parent reflexed.

The boy’s face darkened.

“You know what I think is better?” I interjected. “For all of us to come sit down and get dry and comfy …” I gestured toward the couch for the father to sit on, for the boy to take his seat by the table.

I wondered if the father was aware of just how alike his own expression was to the boy’s: a mix of combative, deferential, dejected and relieved.

The rest of the session went smoothly. By the end of it, the boy’s curls bounced back right along with his spirits. His dad’s mood improved, too, nourished in equal parts by the rain easing and the nap he’d managed to sneak in while his son and I worked.

They left calmly enough, but I’ll have to make time to speak with the parent. We spoke before on things that need discussing not in the child’s presence. I know the father means well. He’d told me he hadn’t had a close relationship with his parents. He had grown up with the threat (and frequent bite) of a switch, and he’d vowed to not repeat it. He does not raise a hand to the boy. This father wants better – the real better, not the threatened one – for his son. He’d told me he wishes for his son to be able to come to him with anything, interests or worries. Yet for now this parent’s very way of communicating stifles the possibility. He gets tripped by his own memories of what parental language ‘should be’ like. Maybe he knows no other way to exert control over a growing and often opinionated boy.

We’ll have a talk. The dad and I.

I know he wants better for the both of them.

“You better” is hardly is the better way.

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

You going to have to wait…

stubborn
photo: pinterest.com/pin/339810734368459869/

 

She didn’t want to wait.

She wanted a treat NOW. Not later. Not after she finished her work. Not after session. Not after dinner.

No waiting.

NOW!

She was NOT going to move, or sit, or come, or go, or climb the stairs, or listen, or ANYTHING until she got her treat.

Which she wanted NOW.

No waiting.

Making her wait was “mean.” It was “not fair” and “not nice.”

She wasn’t having any of it.

None of her mom’s cajoling. None of her mom’s reasoning. None of her mom’s threats of consequence or punishment or loss of playdate or no TV or no iPad or no … something … unless …

I heard them argue. They were still at the bottom of the stairs. Two frustrated voices. Volume rising.

I could visualize the little girl. Arms crossed and foot stamping and lips pursed out in a pout, jaw forward in clear dismay and stubborn determination. I’d seen her do the ‘you’re not gonna make me’ before.

“Upstairs!” The mom ordered, fed up. “Now!”

“You not waiting EITHER,” the child accused, sounding vindicated. “You say go upstairs NOW. I saying go to the store NOW. I want my treat NOW!”

“Don’t be cheeky!” Mom’s voice went up an octave.

“YOU not be cheeky!”

This was devolving. I walked downstairs toward them.

Red faces, one large, one smaller, looked up at me. One in exasperation, one in challenge and a touch of “yeah … so what are you gonna do about it?”

I smiled. “Seems like I’m the one whose waiting…”

The child frowned. This didn’t quite fit her script.

“I’m not going!” she huffed.

“She won’t come up,” the mom accused.

“I want a treat NOW!” the little one dug her heels.

“Oh boy,” I lowered myself onto one of the stairs. “Mind if I sit down? Seems like you’re a little stuck. Can you tell me what’s going on?”

“She won’t get me my treat/She won’t cooperate” They spoke together.

“Are you hungry?” I asked the girl.

She regarded me suspiciously. She knew me well enough .

I raised an eyebrow in question.

“Yeah!” she raised her chin accusingly. “And mommy said we can go to the store and get a treat and now she say go up NOW. I’m not!”

“Hmm …”

“There was lots of traffic,” the mom’s chin was only slightly less raised… “I told her if there’s a lot of traffic we may not have time to stop at the store.” She turned to the girl, “maybe next time you get your stuff faster so we won’t leave so late …”

The child’s face grew angrier. Couldn’t totally blame her … this was a bit low …

“Traffic can be tough in the city,” I intervened. “We can think together about some better planning for next time but now … we have a hungry child and no snack. Good thing I have some snacks upstairs. Shall we?” I got up and offered a hand to the child, eyed the mother meaningfully.

She understood. Stayed silent.

The child narrowed her eyes at me. “What treats you have?”

Bargaining. We’re making progress.

“I don’t know. I’ll have to check upstairs. Let’s go see.”

Eyes still narrow. “What if I don’t like them?”

“I guess we’ll have to see.” (I get really boring when I’m not going to say much more…)

“But I still get a treat after.” This was demand, not query.

“This is between mommy and you, but for now, lets get something into your belly so it isn’t hungry.” I moved my arm closer and she took it. We began climbing, mom trailing a few steps behind.

“Na’ama says I can still have my treat later,” the child swiveled her head back and declared to her mother. A little victoriously.

“This is between you and mommy,” I repeated, not quite able to keep the amusement out of my voice.

“Mommy promised me a treat,” she insisted, but her legs were still climbing so I knew she was only half-combative now, making conversation.

“Yes, you told me. Too bad there was so much traffic.”

“Yeah …”

“I don’t like traffic much.”

“Me too,” she sighed.

“Me three…” Mom piped up from behind.

The child stopped, turned, giggled. “That’s not how you say it!”

“I guess Na’ama will have to help me say things better?” Mom smiled back.

“Yeah!” she liked that. She climbed energetically up a few more stairs. “But …,” she paused again. “You going to have to wait …”

 

 

New Beginning: Habit & Opportunity

opportunity

“He still won’t read.”

The mother’s voice held disappointment and frustration. Her son struggles in school and was required by teachers to read every day over the summer, but hadn’t.

“I did read!” he protested, pouted. Hurt. “I read two whole books!”

“Only because we made you read!” She retorted and turned to me. “Every day is a new excuse. He’s too tired, the book is boring, it’s too hard, he’ll read later, he hates reading, it is stupid … He’ll do anything to avoid it.”

He stomped to the chair. Sat dejectedly. I patted his arm. “I’m glad you read two whole books,” I said. “Which ones?”

He brightened. Threw a “you see?!” look at his mom, and told me. We discussed what he liked about the stories, what he didn’t. What was hard, what wasn’t. We then went over a list of possible titles to follow.

I scheduled a time to speak with the mom. Her frustrations need venting, and she needs solutions, but we can talk about her disappointment without him needing to be present.

♦♦♦

Every child is different but the complaint is not unique. Children and parents rarely battle over things that are fun and easy. It is the stuff that’s hard, confusing, boring, tedious, or appears to be of import to one side but feels less so to the other … where lines get drawn in the sand and stubborn frustration ensues.

Parents cajole. They threaten. They withhold privileges. They might use shame as ‘motivator’ by characterizing the child as lazy or ungrateful, oppositional, immature …

Not surprisingly, these tactics rarely work to ‘motivate’ learning. Nor do they solve whatever problem underlies a child’s reluctance to read: difficulty decoding, difficulty comprehending, delays in language and learning, issues with processing and retrieval, attention issues, stress and overwhelm …

A new school year is seen as opportunity for new ways of learning, new progress, new habits. Parents expect their children to enter school with gusto after a summer’s break and to give it their all. They often expect improvement of whatever issues may have been present the year prior. They verbally and otherwise communicate their expectation that the child prove himself or herself as mature and hardworking, and overcome whatever habits held them back.

A new grade and new beginning indeed offers much new opportunity for doing things differently. However, for that to happen we cannot fall back on failed methods or less-than-helpful habits. If children knew to do better on their own, they would do so already. No child wants to fail. No child enjoys the negative attention of reproach if they can get the positive attention of pride and praise.

♦♦♦

“So what am I supposed to do?” the mother asked when we met. Exasperated.

“You did the best you could last year, and this year we’ll have to work together to do better,” I replied.

She was taken aback. She didn’t expect me to include her in the assessment of last year’s difficulties …

I did not mean blame, but I did mean accountability. Parents often do the best they know, but they are often overextended themselves, and some don’t quite follow through. They may want to follow suggestions but only do so sporadically, or expect the child to take full responsibility for remembering new tasks that they themselves forget … then feel pressed to blame or require … They may get discouraged at the first sign of difficulty (not unlike the child, maybe …) and not continue to work toward new habits when the implementation hits a bump or scheduling needs to be adjusted. They may balk at taking on more responsibility in a life that may already feel too stressful (again, not unlike the child…).

Parents deserve guidance. Shame does not work any better on adults than it does on children … Parents can use encouragement, not blame. Many can benefit from reminders and a pathway to setting new habits. It is not a weakness or poor parenting to make errors or get frustrated or not follow through. People aren’t perfect. We all need help in some areas.

♦♦♦

For this boy, now in mid-grades, and often argumentative and quite fed up with “everything being too difficult”–new habits will (hopefully) include less fighting and more working together, less demand and more playfulness, less critic and more problem solving, less rigidity and more predictability, less shaming and more understanding.

Practically speaking?

  • Setting a weekly schedule where one of the parents reads TO him every night or almost every night (on the benefits of reading check: How early? For how long? ).
  • Separating the child’s own reading for decoding and school, from the parents reading TO him for literary exposure and pleasure.
  • Taking care to not make a parent’s reading time an opportunity for ‘testing’ vocabulary or memory about the story (talking about the story is fabulous, quizzing is not).
  • For books mandatory for school (but too difficult for the child’s reading level), using audio books as accompaniment to printed/electronic book. This helps the child follow the written word and assist him with decoding and comprehension.
  • Placing reminders for reading-time and having a timer he can set to ensure he is reading long enough and can do this independently.
  • Scheduling daily reading (for school and book logs) at a time that is realistic, rather than opportunistic.
  • Providing assistance with homework and/or test preparation, so that the child is not left to manage what is too difficult on his own, and ends up too stressed and exhausted to optimally process information.
  • Incorporating narrative into the day to day and offering modeling of narrative instead of requiring the child to constantly answer questions.
  • Offering a model for making time for reading. Adults who read are more likely to have children who enjoy reading.
  • Setting the child up for success, not failure: rather than focusing on a day he didn’t read or what he isn’t doing well yet, offer praise when he does do his reading without arguing; remind the child what worked before and what he can try to do again; offer solutions, not reprimand.

♦♦♦

In this new school year, what old and less than desirable habits can your child replace with brand new opportunity?

What steps can you take to help?

If you need help to formulate a plan–it is okay to ask for it. That, too, is an opportunity.

reading-extinction-buzzfeed

from Buzzfeed.com

 

 

Making Friends

schoolmates

“I have a best friend!” he announced.

The little boy was a tad breathless from climbing up the stairs, but also from the excitement of the news he had to share and what it meant to him.

“You do!” I grinned. This was the first time I saw him since the summer break, and evidently this was the highlight of the boy’s current experience.

“Yes! His name is Andy and he is in my class and he has a sister and he is my best friend … my BEST-friend!” Breath, breath, grin, “we’re even the same tallness!” (delighted sigh)

“You are best friends and you are the same height?” I smiled. His joy was absolutely infectious. “This is super cool!”

I am yet to meet a child who is not delighted in friendship though it is harder to come by for some than for others. This little one had it the more challenging way. Always the smallest in his class in stature, always a tad behind in understanding, two seconds slower to get to an answer, a bit clumsy, a little late to catch a joke or ball … Remnants of the difficult beginning of his life and the deprivation that his brain endured to oxygen and possibly nutrition even before he was born; remainders of the excess of chemicals that no developing neurology should have to be exposed to. Alcohol. Narcotics. Who knows what more.

A heart the size of the Pacific, and a soul to light the universe and yet … friends did not come easy to this boy. Somehow groups formed to his exclusion. Somehow best-friends paired up without him. Most children were not unkind, just egocentric, and he was just odd enough, slow enough, different enough, to fail first-choice.

“Andy’s a total doll,” the boy’s adoptive mother confirmed. “They have been inseparable all summer. They are exactly the same height, by the way … They met at summer camp,” she paused, letting me understand. The summer day camp my little client went to was geared especially to include those who had some challenges: children whose difficulties may be invisible to most and yet no less compelling; children with sensory integration issues, with language and attention and learning and a-little-slower-on-the-uptake issues; children who often found it a little harder to keep up … or to make and keep friends.

“Yea!” the little boy jumped in, “and then he came to my class and he was new but I already know him so we are each other best-friends!”

How perfect. For once this boy–so often the follower and tag-along–was let to lead … even if he was to be a shepherd for one (for now …). For once he knew more about something or someone than others or was at the very least aware enough of it. For once he did not have to compete because the connection was already made during the summer and seamlessly continued from day-campers to schoolmates.

“Other kids can be his friends,” he noted sagely, “I have other friends, too, and some of them want to be his friends also. That’s okay. But Andy and me … we are best-friends anyway.”

Heart the size of the Pacific. Soul that lights the Universe. Eyes that twinkle to the Gods.

This little Andy, he got lucky. He got himself the best best-friend there was.

Back to School–Challenges and Hope

back to school

Back to school. Eyefuls and hearts full of children in new clothing and shiny shoes totting sparkling backpacks that are yet to be dragged, thrown, pulled, and sat on. Images of parents, some relieved for end-of-summer entertainment chores, others sorry for the loss of time together, and many more managing an alternating roller-coaster of both … Children with their own mix of dismay and anticipation: back to homework, also reconnecting with classmates and interesting new things to learn.

Back to school is a bittersweet time for most. A loss of freedom yet a gaining of routine that can often be stabilizing. A time for new beginnings and old worries. Fresh expectations and maybe the memory of disappointments. There are anxieties and stresses about friendships, best-friends, cliques, teachers, lockers, who would sit with whom in the cafeteria, fitting in. Mixed into the tetchy anticipation are all too often often nagging worries about too-difficult studies and possible overwhelm.

This time can be even more potentially stressful for children who have language-learning difficulties and past experiences of failure. For them going back to school might brings up memories of struggle and inadequacy, of confusion and all-too-frequent errors and correction. They may associate school with overwhelm and be anxious about the end of respite that summer offered. At the same time that they may still be excited about reuniting with their friends or meeting a new teacher or trying out the new school supplies in their pristine notebooks; they may also hold worry and distress that, too, needs space alongside the excitement. Mixed feelings may be difficult for these kids to explain, further adding to confusion.

Children rarely have one feeling at a time (most of us don’t, really) and the salad of emotions is frequently shifts and is difficult to tease apart. Especially so for children who have some difficulty with communication, processing, and language. It can help to let them know that it is fine to have all kinds of thoughts, worries, and emotions tumbling through their minds and bodies. Verbalizing the experience helps demystify it and helps give words to what may otherwise feel like undefined unease in the pit of little stomachs and vague distress exploding into weepy bouts and unexpected tantrums.

Back to school time can be tender, and fortunately there is much that you can do to help!

If you had not done so yet, it may be a good time for a brief ‘postmortem’ of the previous school year: What worked and what didn’t? What are they proud of? What were favorites and what was least so? What would they change if they could? What was most helpful? What would have helped? Is there anything or anyone they’d miss? Anyone they worry revisiting?

Time, too, for a heart-to-heart about this school year before it begins in earnest: What are they excited about? Does anything worry them, and if so, what it is? Who are they looking forward to meeting? Who are they not keen on seeing again? Is there anything they are not sure about? Anything about which they feel more confident? And … what do they need? How can you help?

For those for whom narrative is a challenge, it would help if you share your own back-to-school stories: The best year, the worst year, your favorites and least. What gave you joy and what causes you worry. Modeling your own mixed feelings gives permission for the child to have a mix within themselves, and provides a framework for their own descriptions. Add your thoughts and feelings about them and their new beginning: Your excitement for how much they’ve grown and your touch of sadness for the end of summer pleasures; your hopes for a good year and your wishes it would not be too stressful or too difficult.

Do not, however, criticize or bring up ultimatums. Things like “last year you did not try very hard so this year I expect you to do better …” or “you better work hard this year or there’d be no play-dates …” or “I don’t want to hear bad things from your teacher about you like I did last year …”–they wound, not help. Shame strips hope away and erodes confidence. Absolutely vent your frustrations and fears to other adults you are close to but not in the presence of the child who evokes them–you need a soft place to fall but it should not be your child who provides it for you …

No child wants to do badly in school or to misbehave. Using last-years woes (over which the child now has no control anyway) as leverage for this year demands does little to give motivation. Failure will happen–we all misstep, we all make errors, have bad days, act out sometimes, forget, neglect to follow some direction. If the child enters school afraid or disillusioned they may reach conclusions that it is not worth the try if they are already half-way into punishment …

So … be on the child’s side. Encourage. Inspire. Allow a new beginning and fresh hope and confidence. You don’t need to praise failure or ignore hardship, but you can find a way to re-frame difficulties through effort and maturation. “I know that last year was challenging at times but I am so excited to see how much you have matured this summer” and “Let us work together to make this year the best year yet both in school and at home.”

Prepare. School supplies and school clothing are important. So are arranging schedules and anticipating needs and letting the child be part of whatever decisions they can have some input for and control over. Familiarity with routines is important for any child but even more so for the child who may need help with comprehending and following cause-and-effect, sequence, and directions.

How to do it? Talk about the coming schooldays’ schedule. Point out when school starts and ends, how long things take (the school bus, getting home, homework), what other things will need to be accommodated. Discuss the merits of good sleep and healthy nutrition, negotiate (or explain) a clear a time to rise and time to go to bed, time for other tasks as needed. This arranging of routine and timetable can be made fun–life should be looked forward to and manageable–after all, there are so many amazing things to find out and adventures to be had!

To make things more concrete and minimize the need to hold all the details in memory, you can draw a visual schedule together: clocks with crucial times to follow, lists of things to do each morning and after-school, timetables for after-school activities and therapies. This preparation will be further enhanced if you review the school schedule (and any unusual things like holidays and school trips) over weekends so the child knows what’s expected and what to expect.

Make sure you leave time for the child to have unstructured play. Ensure there is some time for boredom, too. In this day and age when life is busier and schooldays long and demands overwhelming, it is difficult to fathom children given time to daydream and get bored. However, these are crucial for imagination, creativity, rest, and assimilation. Children will daydream–might as well make time for it so it does not take place in class or during homework.

Secure some time for reading and snuggles. Schedule it in. It is no less important than homework or baseball or tutoring. YOU reading TO the child, that is. Beyond the pleasure of connection and time together in story adventure, there is ample research showing it as a wonderful best way to increase their language and comprehension, to expose them to worlds beyond their own and deepen their listening. Reading to your child will enrich your connection and provide a time and place for shared relaxation as well as important opportunity for sharing what may otherwise not find a way to bubble up and be spoken of.

Preparing the school staff is helpful, too, if special accommodations or understanding are required. Consider speaking with the school ahead of time (or early in the school year) so that you limit your child needing to stand out as different or wait for accommodations. You’ll also get a sense to who the teachers are and which one may call for more teamwork and coordination than others.

Prepare yourself, as well … Not for the hardship, but for self-care. See that you not forget your own needs for good food, enough sleep, time to breathe, to exercise, to call a friend, to laugh, to cuddle. Stress is no more good for parents than it is for children …

 

It is a tender and exciting time, this back to school adventure of new beginnings. Even as it may awaken the frayed remnants of old worries, it offers amply opportunity for building confidence and bolstering hope. It is filled with growth and re-connection. May the cooler weather and the changing times herald soft days and brilliant colors, and may it bring on glorious learning ready to unfold.

Happy Back To School to All!

On the matter of chores …

 

chores

It’s a Speech & Language session, and as a way to make sentences involving action words and pronouns, we’re discussing chores. I ask Charlie, age five, what kind of chores he does at home; the things he does to help out.

“I no got chore!” Charlie states, proud.

“You don’t have any chores?” I ask, correcting grammar as I go.

“No!”

“Don’t you pick up your toys?” I prod, explaining. “That’s a chore.”

Shakes his head.

“Why not?” Many kids today don’t have as many chores as they can actually successfully master, but most are at least asked to pick up after themselves, to put their dirty laundry in the hamper, or their dishes in the sink. In Charlie’s case, I know for a fact that his mom and I had a discussion about adding routines and responsibilities, and that she told me she had initiated some chores with him, one being picking up his toys. So I’m a bit flummoxed about his response. I take a longer look at him–is that a little twinkle in his eye I see? I wait.

“Because I no do good,” he says after a pause. Yep, definitely a smirk. There’s a story there.

“What do you mean?” I ask, keeping my face neutral, though internally I’m already chuckling. Charlie’s a pip. Angel-faced and flaxen-haired he is indeed a good boy, but it would not do to underestimate his little mind’s cunning. Whatever this is, I know it’s going to be fun.

He grins. “Mommy say I clean up room I get stars,” he begins, looking at me intently to make sure I’m going to ‘go all adult’ on him or something and critic him; or worse–tattle to his mom.

“Okay … so your mommy said that you had to clean up your room, and that if you did so you would get stars,” I repeat what he said, both to give him a model of better language and to make sure that I understood him–his grammar leaves many holes in sentences and makes his speech less intelligible than should be at his age. It is why I’m seeing him in therapy. I keep my face smiling gently, not promising anything but hoping to still encourage him to spill the beans.

“I everyday put all stuff under bed,” he states victoriously.

“You put all the stuff under your bed instead of back where it belongs?” I prompt, grateful for years of perfecting the occasionally necessary poker-face.

Bigger grin now. This was no error. This was planned. “Shoes and shirt and toy and book and sister pajama and pacifiers she throwed (sic) on floor …” he pauses for emphasis, “and mommy no find thing no more and mommy say I no clean up good. No more have to.”

I can’t help but laugh. Charlie 1: Mamma 0.

Told you he’s an imp.

sweepbug