Friday, June 22, 2007

Unspeaking volumes

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.

19 comments:

Steph said...

Wow! That's a lot going on between the lines. I'm thouroughly impressed. Did you ever find the missing toothbrush? ;]

kristen said...

What an insight! I worry a lot about the mechanical responses, the observations that aren't spontaneous, but learned and memorized. I notice it more when my son is interacting with his peers or even other adults—that's when it sounds the most foreign to me.

Hooray for Bud and his emerging powers of observation and communication!

Suzanne said...

YaY! Those are the moments we're working for.

bubandpie said...

Yay Bud! I've been missing him lately. (And you.)

Drama Mama said...

YAY. I can't wait until he rolls his eyes at you and clucks his tongue.

GO BUD. Good times!

Daisy said...

Wow! Those moments are thrilling. Go Bud!

kristina said...

Who says our kids don't have TOM-----Charlie has been asking for "tickle" which is a way to get me to follow him to do something he wants!

a mommy said...

Jumps are beautiful. Let's hear it for subtext!!

Club 166 said...

Ah, most excellent, indeed.

r.b. said...

So much communication that others take for granted is really a cause for celebration!

I would have NEVER dreamed when Ben was younger he and I could talk like we do now...he's 13.

WarriorMom said...

Way to go, Bud!

Niksmom said...

Yay! So glad to hear about Bud's progress. And the missing toothbrush...?

Mom without a manual said...

Yea for Bud!

It is amazing how one simple moment like that can take our breath away!

Stimey said...

That's beautiful. I love moments like that--with all my children, delayed or not.

Anonymous said...

That's just fabulous!

Karen in CA

kyra said...

so exciting! so much complexity beneath the words! yippee for bud!

KAL said...

Wow, how wonderful! That is truly awesome.

Agent M said...

SOOOO cool! Go, Bud.

some poems don't rhyme said...

just found your blog through the 'kind blogs' list. what a beautiful post. and what a special, dedicated mom you are!