Thursday, April 22, 2010

Childhood expressions: Blog Carnival

R has always been one of those children who loves phyical touch

I suspect there is a sensory basis to this

I think he could not feel his own skin unless it is touching someone else (imagine the insecurity this could cause-this deficiency of proprioceptive sense- like being  suspended in space )

It may have served a fundamental sensory basis with a need for security as an infant

But even as this has resolved somewhat  - he loves touch

R is still at the stage where the spotlight of his love shines in a small  tight circle -and I am the lucky one right in the middle of that circle

With his love for mom and love of touch it was no surprise that one of his first phrases was

  "Shee Ma" ( Sleep with Mother - that I should do bedtime)

He would bargain for it from an early stage

Never more content, than on the crook of my shoulder drifting off to sleep.

As he turns into a master manipulator at the age of 5 - he has suddenly started using an offer of his bedtime ritual  as a reward

His doting gran and aunt are here and when they do something that pleases him ( like give him the remote control of the big TV ) he offers majestically

"Sheep with Dadi" ( sleep with granma ) 

( He never follows through with this promise though, ending the day with wails of "Shee with mother "" Shee with mother" - worried that he will be held to his promise made earlier in the day )

On  our side , we use this phrase as a threat

"Eat your dinner or NO Sheep with Mother "  I threaten( as he pretends to gags on the veggies -  it works like a charm )

We use the phrase to make conversation

Instead of  the question

"Do you love your father more or mother?"

we ask

"Do you want to Shee with Mother or Shee with Father "

As R adds to his vocabulary, I am noticing that we too, use the phrases he does - complete with his curious Apraxic lilt

Words that  are now becoming a part of the story of the three of us

So phrases like

"Get off "( to remove anything )
"I/knee/eye/hair hurt"( to express discomfort with any part -physical or emotional)
Jup( jump )
Byce( Ride a bike )
The odd "First " Then " way of speaking ( "First we play with the doll, then we can play on the computer ")
The ubiquitous "All done"

And so on

But as the process of raising this child is irrevocably transforming us - I find that for the first time - I think about the purpose of language in a deeper way

Though it seems obvious that the purpose of language is to communicate our thoughts and feelings - I notice how we - the vast population of  the neurotypical  - use words  not to express but to influence a desired outcome

These days, I find, I have little patience with the word games

I slowly find that I am stopping using my words to manipulate others  or to protect myself ( what is sarcasm - if not a shield or a weapon in human interaction- interactions  which can sometimes resemble a battleground? )

I try to say what I really mean ( while still being kind )

How freeing it is!

Indeed I dont miss the irony that my child of few words has taught me how to really  talk

So if for instance, I  am upset with DH , instead of using all the weapons that words give us - withholding words ( the dreadful silent treatment)  or wounding with  sarcasm or sharpness or dredging up past hurts - all the ways in which we grown ups learn to use words as weapons and shields

I simply use the words that R has taught me

I say "I hurt"

PS this post has been written for my friend Barbara's blog carnival  here. She will publish her carnival on Childhood expressions on April 25th

28 comments:

TheRextras said...

Thank you so much, K! I sincerely wish I had a special expression for my appreciation of your blog. No thank you for Shee Ma, but I hope to offer others the influence of you, writing about R, by sending them here from the carnival. Barbara

Mr. Daddy said...

yet again K you have blessed me with your insight...


thanks....

Kim said...

I love this, I love what you have to say about how we use language as grown ups.

That boy! Oh, it must be heaven to have him fall asleep on your shoulder every night! So sweet!

Þorgerður said...

This is so true, no one ever says anything straight out.
I love your insights into the terrible way we treat each other adult way... the silent treatment... shudder....It is great the way R is bargaining for things.

Kris said...

It is amazing to think about the power of language and how it can be used to hurt and manipulate. Although my son is not apraxic and can talk, he really only says what he means. This may cause him difficulty as he gets older and he doesn't understand subtle language, but for now it is refreshing to have this person who truly says what he means and means what he says! I never really thought about it that much before. Thanks!

Bonsky said...

K-

Thank you so much for this post as it reminds me of when E was a toddler. She used to say pookermarket instead of supermarket and I found myself saying that instead of correcting her. For example, I would ask, "Do you want to go with Mommy to the pookermarket?" This happened frequently as it was a favorite pastime for the two of us to stroll the aisles casually looking at whatever interested us. She loved being in the cart and handing me the items that I put in her seat when it came time to pay. My husband used to worry that it was a bad idea to not correct her. We actually had quite a few conversations about it. But I always felt that it was part of a special connection we had -- a special moment -- and I remember so clearly feeling sad when she finally started saying supermarket. Words are so powerful in ways that are often surprising. Thanks again for the wise words from my friend to start the weekend.

-B

Lisa said...

Beautiful K.

Thanks for the hugs, I've been needing them terribly lately.

Mrs. Mac said...

OK ... let's try commenting once again. My pc connection is seriously flawed this week. I loved reading this post and am continually amazed how a person adapts/learns communication with or without typical expression. Hugs,

Stacey,momof 2 said...

I like it here at your blog... it seems so familiar to me!
When my son was young... 2ish... we were always trying to get him to communicate without yelling,whinning, screaming and such.
I found myself at the mercy of his every sound-- finally... I learned the art of actively ignoring his constant pleas for immediate response. Gosh, what a moment that was!
We also used the first you eat then you can cuddle with Dadda.
When your kids start to use your words againist you to interupt your "disscussion/arguement" with your hubby... well that is a moment also!
I am following you now also... :) and happily so!

JoyMama said...

Beautiful post, K.

I hadn't made the connection before between word-games and mind-games quite the way you do here. Word-play, at its truly playful, I love. Mind-games, not so much. But we too have had much learning to do when it comes to paring down our language to what essentials work best with Joy.

Carnival prize is well-deserved! :-)

Bethany said...

This is beautifully written. You are so right about how we as adults over complicate our expressions. I also love the examples of how you have incorporated your son's expressions into the family narrative - they are common to the entire family. As a special education preschool teacher I parsed my expressions in the classroom down to the basics and would keep a running narrative. This led to some interesting conversations when I forgot to switch back to "adult" speech before going to say, the grocery store or a restaurant. :) Oops.

danette said...

I love this! "shee Ma" is sooo sweet :).

I'm glad to know we're not the only ones who adopt our children's words and phrases :). Sometimes I feel a little guilty about not correcting them in those instances, but I think in a way it actually helps promote communication.

As for the way adults use words, that is so true. Unfortunately, being honest and straightforward is not always considered socially acceptable and we've run into situations where Cuddlebug or Bearhug say what they mean and are interpreted as rude by people who don't realize it isn't intended that way.

Your Therapy Source Inc said...

Great insights. After reading this, I plan on making more efforts to speak straight and not dance around issues. I am a big offender of sarcasm. Thanks for helping me try to be a better mother and wife.

Brenda said...

Beautiful! Jack, too, with his own version of Shee Ma. Always making sure he's going to go to bed with Mommy. And I LOVE the expressions. They are the sweetest.

Rachel said...

I find it hilarious that we as parents start to pick up on the unique communications that our kids use!

And how darling that R treasures contact with you above all else. There really isn't a much better de-stresser than touch, is there?

Beautiful post!

Mia @ Finding Balance said...

What wonderful insight into your family influence to 'the outside world'. I never realized that possibly for similar reasons, I have found myself less willing to use words to influence others, and have been truer (still kind) to my thoughts and feelings on what happens around us.

Thanks for stopping by Hysteria. It's all changed over to Finding Balance now.

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Floortime Lite Mama

On my life as the mother of an adorable 5 year old with Autism and Apraxia