Happy Chin New Year everyone.
HC and I are chilling at my place this weekend. He’s triple vaxxed and in good form. We’ve had less seizures lately, which is fantastic. He’s also enjoying the new support workers recently introduced to his team, and has apparently been quite chatty and upbeat.
I have such clear memories of our years in the playroom with him, trying all sorts of games and fun to kick start his language. Is it wrong of me to sometimes wish that he’d stop talking? Or at least, stop asking me for things?
Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to be asked questions, and also quite experienced in fielding them thanks to the Human Lamington’s childhood habit of asking me random things like ‘what do ducks look after?’ and ‘can Avis help?’
It’s just that Happy Chin asks me for things that aren’t possible to produce. Or at least, not right then, when he wants them. Jet skis, for instance. I’ve written here before about how he looks out the window at the water and demands there be jet skis. And about how some parents get asked to produce thunderstorms, just for example, which are way tougher to arrange than jet skis.
This morning, however, HC is asking for frog-kite sheets. Also dolphin-kite sheets.
You see, about 8 years ago we went to a kite festival and there were two enormous kites, a frog and a dolphin. Both were about the size of a small car and Happy Chin was fascinated by them and of course wanted one. We bought him smaller kites and did our best with weeks of incessant requests, but he is like an elephant and never forgets an obsession once it’s truly taken hold.
When he was younger, I wanted him to talk so badly that once he started, I pretty much gave him whatever he wanted. I was just so thrilled that finally, after all these years, he was communicating with us. These days, I’m split between telling him his birthday’s coming up and maybe he’ll get it then, trying to ignore him (this rarely works), and explaining to him that you can’t always get the things you want (this also doesn’t really work).
And OK, I admit I did go onto Redbubble earlier to see if they had any sheets. I’m not too proud to admit that I’ve enabled this behaviour at times. I have gone online looking for obscure things like an Alfred the hot water bottle soft toy, a replacement Mike Wazowski when HC left his in a hotel room in LA, and a pillowcase exactly the same as the striped teddy bear one he had when he was four (found it too, thanks internet).
But just because he can now say, for example, Fish Balloon, doesn’t mean I should be rushing out to buy one. Right? Also, conversation shouldn’t really be just him telling me about stuff he wants and me going yes, OK mate, I’ll get you one of those as soon as the shops open, like Paris Hilton’s PA or Verucca Salt’s dad.
Because really, where would it end? Last year Happy Chin’s key support worker told me that the speech pathologist had been for a visit. Picking up HC’s assisted communication device (LAMP, if you’re interested) he said ‘let’s have a listen to what words he’s been using lately,’ and activated the voice option. ‘Coke, coke, coke, coke, pepsi, coke, coke, pepsi, pepsi, coke, coke, coke, coke, coke,’ the machine said.
We figured out a while back that sometimes HC just wants to chat about things he likes and is interested in. He doesn’t always want them produced instantly. Take Bob hills for example. The opening credits of Bob the Builder feature quite a few pink and green hills. We spent hours drawing them in the playroom back int the day. HC was obsessed with Bob hills. This week he tells me there is a monster in the hills. So we’ve been talking about the Bob hills monster a lot.
Similarly, in Tom and Jerry Blast off to Mars, there is a robot that looks like a vacuum cleaner. So Tom and Jerry robot vacuum was a conversation topic for a while. As was the scream extractor mask in Monsters Inc. Happy Chin could tell you about that for hours. And hours.
So you can see why new members of his support team approach me asking ‘what is he saying?’ and usually I know. I just don’t know what it MEANS. Or why it’s so important to him that I engage with him on it. Because he won’t let it drop, he will follow me around the house relentlessly and if I don’t respond he will just say Bob hills monster louder until I do.
Of course, he can also say things like ‘hot chocolate please’ and ‘all finished now.’ Painstakingly teaching language for years has given him a vocabulary of sorts. He mostly gets his meaning across verbally. And I suppose because we used a child-centred, interactive play program which used the things he was interested in to teach a wide range of skills, it’s not surprising that we encouraged communication that is based on stuff he is interested in. Really, although it is frustrating and tedious at times, it’s no more boring than sitting next to someone at dinner who talks about politics all night. Or cars. Or themselves.
Perhaps I should use his interest in frog and dolphin kites to teach a new skill, like back in the old playroom days? I wonder how he’d go at silk screen painting? We could make our own frog and dolphin kite sheets?
Or not. I mean, where would it end?