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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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 …

 

 

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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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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!”

 

 

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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.”

 

 

 

 

When I Grow Up

“When I grow up,” she said, small face determined, adamant, “I will make sure no one is hungry and no one feels lonely for a hug.”

(S.J. age 5)

determination
Photo: Pinterest, Kay Anderson

 

 

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Meddling

cherry tomatos

 

It took a full sixty seconds before she could get hold of her giggles long enough to tell me why she called.

“What’d he do now?” I smiled.

You see, she has a four-year-old and an 18 months old. Both precious. One precocious.

The preschooler omits some speech sounds and makes a salad of most others. He knows what he wants to say (and has much to impart from dawn to evening), but the production message from his brain to mouth muscles doesn’t always come through organized. We’ve been working on improving motor planning and sound production, and he’s been making steady progress. He is a studious little dude and follows instruction well enough, but what he really adores is experimenting: With his father’s shaving cream and his mother’s makeup, with his little brother’s haircut and diaper-rash cream, with words and their meaning.

“I was making him a salad,” the mom hiccupped, still not quite over her laugh-a-thon, “and silly me, I thought I could slip in a tomato.”

I grinned. Silly indeed … This boy loves some vegetables … but he is also the kid who declared “tomatoes are mean because they look like cherries but they taste yucky.”

“So, he takes one look at the plate and shakes his finger at me, saying ‘Mommy, I told you five times already. Why you meddling my dinner?'”

 

 

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Temporary Paragon

grandmas graphics

illustration: grandmasgraphics.com

She is a paragon of deliberateness. Personifies all things just-so aligned. Her veggies must be on the left, her french-fries on the right.

She draws her letters so they march in perfect rows. No effort (or eraser) spared to ensure strict discipline among her lines.

She is a model of sheer focus. She will not be dissuaded. She absolutely won’t be rushed.

She examines every detail for correctness, chooses only hues that match.

She rejects any suggestion to skip corners or leave even the least uneven mark.

She will garner no discussion. Her exactness is fiercely protected.

All things must be in place. Each squiggle inspected.

Until an ice-cream truck chimes outdoors … and messy life once more accepted.

 

 

 

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Half-Punctured

IMG-20170614-WA0009

She came in half-victorious, half-blushing.

“I have a earring,” she announced.

“Emphasis on the singular,” the mom added pointedly.

The five-year-old glanced at her mom, narrowed her eyes in potential protestation and shrugged. “I still have a earring,” she stressed. “See?” she turned her face to showcase a glittery heart on an exposed earlobe. I peeked around her head: the other earlobe was conveniently concealed under a lock of hair.

“She refused to have the other one done,” the mom sighed.

“It hurt!” the gal accused.

“I told you it would hurt a little,” her mom responded, “you said you wanted earrings anyway.”

“Yeah, but it hurt a LOT!”

I had a feeling this was a dialogue with some accumulated mileage.

“So …” I interfered, “you have one pierced ear … Doesn’t it mean you can wear only half of your new earrings?”

She considered that.

“Yeah,” she twisted her lip in contemplation. “But … maybe I’ll have the other one done … I mean … when I’m older. Maybe like, twelve. Or even nine.”

 

 

 

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