Sometimes it's the smallest moments that provide the greatest insights into the tremendous progress that Bud is making.
I've written a lot about Bud's language development - his earliest language, the flashes of development, my hopes for him to develop a flexibility and ease in dynamic situations. But sometimes it's difficult to recognize Bud's development as it happens. To be sure, our conversations have gotten lengthier and more complicated, his language more spontaneous and free - but as it happens day-to-day, it is sometimes only in retrospect that I can see how far he's come.
The other day, though, I recognized his progress in the moment. We were in the middle of the bedtime routine when I discovered that his toothbrush was missing. (Bud is a big fan of toothbrushes, and much to my chagrin he frequently carts them around the house to use as playthings and character stand-ins.) With a sigh, I instructed him to go downstairs to the other bathroom and retrieve his spare toothbrush.
I waited upstairs while I heard him pad down the stairs. Seconds ticked by, then minutes, and I heard him rattling around in the kitchen.
In an exasperated tone I shouted from upstairs, "Bud, did you find your toothbrush?"
His reply came instantly, also with a hint of exasperation: "Papa's in the bathroom!"
The conversation stopped me short.
In Bud's earlier logical, linear, concrete communication style, the question "Did you find your toothbrush?" would have had two possible responses: "Yes, I did" or "No, I didn't."
But Bud wasn't thinking in a logical, linear, concrete way. He was thinking in a flexible, dynamic, abstract way. He listened to my words, he listened to my tone, he considered the context, and he knew instantly that I was not actually asking him if he'd found his toothbrush. He listened to "Did you find your toothbrush?" but he heard (accurately) "I am getting frustrated because I told you to get your toothbrush and bring it here and you haven't done it yet."
Then, in a fraction of an instant, having considered my question, he responded. He said "Papa's in the bathroom," but he meant "Please get off my back - I am trying to follow instructions but I can't get into the bathroom right now and am just biding my time until I can."
Bud spoke only four words. But what he didn't say spoke volumes.