The Lost Quartet

fishbowl

 

 

He reached into his pocket and rummaged around. “I’ve brought something to show you,” he said, eyes searching mine. “But it’s a secret …”

“Oh?” I offered.

“Well, sort of,” he shrugged as an uncertain smile worked its way into his cheeks. “I took them to school … but I didn’t tell anyone … because we’re not allowed to … The teacher woulda’ taken them away and other kids maybe woulda’ told her or asked to see them and then she’d know …”

I hiked my eyes up and nodded my expectation.

The grin grew but it still held a sheen of sad.

He pulled his fist out of his pocket and turned it so the back of his hand rested on the table, then ceremoniously uncurled his fingers.

Four grains of rice in tiny vials, strung onto a keychain ring.

“They have names on them,” he said reverently.

I squinted and reached for a magnifying glass. Handed him one.

Our heads met over the small nest of palm and he mouthed the words, more sigh than voice.  “Fee, Fi, Fo and Fum.”

A quartet recently eaten not by a giant smelling the blood of an English man but by a feline with a swishing tail who had knocked the fishbowl over and left not one golden scale behind.

 

 

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Life, Simplified.

draw a baby

Photo: King College, London

 

“It’s not hard,” she said. “Here, I’ll show you.”

“You make a circle …” she demonstrated. “Then you make eyes and mouth and little bit of hair and hands and legs. See?”

She held the drawing up to show me. Lines for arms and legs sprouted out of the crooked circle ‘head,’ topped by a few smaller lines of a sparse mohawk.

“Then,” she planted the paper back on the table, “you go to the hospital and the doctor makes magic and it’s a baby.”

 

 

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In Particular

Little_girl_drawing_with_blue_pencil Daniel Foy

Photo: Daniel Foy

 

She is deliberate. She takes her time.

Each line is drawn with distinct goal. Each color chosen with remarkable concentration. Each curve labored on in exact determination.

After all, the letters aren’t ‘just’ a prelude to a word expressed. It is none of it ‘just’ idle practice …

It is her name she’s working on, a profound soul-expression.

 

 

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Mystery Mom

church pew AMDB7 on Flickr

Photo: AMDB7 on Flickr

 

She doesn’t know who her mom is. She was left as a newborn, wrapped in a piece of old bedsheet, under a pew in the church. Or so the story goes.

She spent her first year in the orphanage. Many mewling mouths and too few holding arms. She found a way to survive.

Halfway into her second year she got picked up, fussed over with odd sounds, carried out of the room that had been her world. It was confusing. It was good. It was a lot.

She has a family now. They love her. They are patient. Most of the time. They try.

She’s a big girl. Almost ten. She understands. Sometimes.

She still can’t help but wonder who she is. What made her undesirable. Why she was left, naked not only of clothes but of clues.

She still can’t help but wonder about the woman who’d had her, then left without a sound. The woman who isn’t even mist and fog of memory and yet she still is tethered to in heart and mind. Her Mystery Mom.

 

 

 

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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!”

 

 

 

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Berry Prickly

blackberry

Berry Prickly

 

Gavin (age 4) is picking berries with his mom and grandpa in the woods outside his grandpa’s house. He’d picked a few himself but encountered a thorn … and now is quite content holding the bowl, nursing his owee finger, and ‘directing traffic’ to the “good ones.”

Gavin: “I know why it called a Berry.”

Mom, intrigued: “Why?”

Gavin: “Because it berry prickly!”

 

 

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Brushosaurus!

 

toothbrush holder

Photo: Pinterest

 

 

Quite a few of the children who come to see me have sensory issues that make teeth brushing a daily struggle. Princess and superhero themed toothbrushes are one way to make a necessary routine child-friendly and help with carryover and healthy oral-care. Another is to add a ‘toothbrush guardian’ (added bonus: this allows an inexpensive way to keep up with the recommended frequent change of toothbrushes).

To make Brushosaurus, drill a pair of holes into a plastic toy to make a handy dandy toothbrush organizer. Has been known to work just as well with magic ponies, sheep, unicorns, giraffes, and even the occasional Brushoturtle.

Brush on!

 

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Grit of Will

up up and away

Photo: Smadar Halperin-Epshtein

 

They don’t give up.

They push on, they keep trying.

For the plainest of skills.

Simple tasks need endurance:

Every sentence’s a summit

Every speech sound’s a triumph of will.

Such tenacious young children

Built of grit and forbearance

Marathoners of life’s endless sprints

All uphill.

Oh, how deeply they teach me

The depth of true mettle

In courage, in hope to succeed.

Their indomitable spirit

Forms a marvel:

Pure resolve wrought from steel.

 

 

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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!”

 

 

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A New Friend

seat

Photo: duffylondon.com

 

There needs to be an extra chair now at the table, another place setting, extra fork. The bath requires extra towels. Reading choices necessitate an added pause. There are lively conversations from the bedroom, laughter, whispered dialogue, deep monologues. A seat to save in rides, a window-or-middle deliberation. Opinions of a first-line advisor, a determined intermediate, a confidante.

Granted, he is secretive, selective, and exclusive. It doesn’t mean he isn’t a good friend.

Accepting him is fact, not question. Get used to it. He’s there. He may not show up to explain, but he will not be ignored or shunned. Be nice. He has deep feelings. He has needs. A keen mind.

Should not matter that he is a dragon-human made of magic. Invisible to all but a certain little one.

 

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