Wednesday, May 28, 2014

You Say "Bag", I Say "Bag"

The past week of 90 degree highs confirms that summer has a firm grip on Florida and will not be letting go for a few very long months.

Summertime means park time and park time means I am once again reminded that I am not from around here.

Silas and I were playing near the slides when another group of kids showed up. Silas's go-to friendship gesture is to grab a big handful of wood chips and bring them to the new people.

One of the older boys, perhaps about ten, looked at me and asked, "What is he doing?"

"He's trying to share some wood chips with you," I responded as I brushed the chips out of Silas's hand, telling him that not everyone wants to hold onto wood chips.

"What are woodchips?" the boy asked next, and I blinked, so he clarified. "You mean the mulch?"

"Yeah," I said, nodding. "Wood chips are another name for mulch."

What I didn't say is that where I came from, the term "mulch" was much more closely related to fertilizer as a term. And to be clear, when I say fertilizer, I'm thinking of manure. Feces. You know? Yuck. I thought about how I had never heard "mulch" used in conjunction with a playground growing up. And then I remembered something that had happened several months ago.

A friend had taken Silas to the park while I was taking an exam. Later, when I picked him up, she apologized. "He only wanted to sit down in the mulch and play! Luckily, they had just put down clean mulch, if that helps."

I had been slightly confused, wondering what the definition of clean manure meant. I trusted her judgement and figured Silas had not been harmed. I joked about how he'd have to build his immune system some day. Then I went on with my life completely unaware that I had experienced a communication error until just now.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Difference Between Splits and Spit is an "L"

I want to be able to do the splits, but I don't have the patience to stretch daily.

There's something about the lack of immediate results that greatly affects my ability to push through a tedious task. Trust me, I know it's a personality flaw.

Silas recently started learning to spit. At first I was thrilled, because we were brushing our teeth and he was trying to imitate me; a great next step for him in his own personal care.

Then he realized that this wonderful trick could be applied to everything he put in his mouth. Now he was chomping onto toys and spitting them out. Now he was taking big sips of water and spraying it on the floor, nearly choking on his laughter.

I know that I have to be patient. It will take many explanations that we spit in the sink while brushing, but not on the floor while drinking. There will be messes. I get Silas to help clean up his messes in an attempt to gently rebuke him (but the kid really likes blotting up spills with paper towel so I'm worried this might encourage him).

Just like the splits, I know I have to work with Silas every day as he learns to navigate the basic activities we take for granted (brushing our teeth, using the toilet, putting on clothes). All of these have a vague starting point and a defined ending point, but the steps in between are brutally slow going and the day to day changes are essentially non existent. Only when I stop to think back to a few months ago do I realize how far Silas has come in any of his skills.

I am not a particularly patient person - I am all about the destination rather than the journey - but hopefully teaching Silas will help me to change my viewpoint. And maybe one day, I'll look back to a time when I thought I was incapable of doing the splits.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Breakfast Tale

Every morning, I offer Silas a choice for breakfast, usually between eggs and hot cereal. Sometimes he picks eggs, sometimes he goes for the cereal. Sometimes he just asks for chocolate milk, please.

This morning he picked hot cereal and as I stood over the stove, waiting for the milk to heat up, he started bawling. Just out-of-nowhere crying as though his little heart was breaking in two. I stooped down to give him a hug and ask him what was wrong.

He looked at me through tear-filled eyes and sniffled. "Green beans!" he told me, his expression suggesting that I was depriving him of the one thing in the world he wanted.

"I'm not making green beans," I said, assuming he was confused about what was in the saucepan. "I'm making malt-o-meal on the stove."

"No! Green beans!" he wailed plaintively, the tears starting up again as he flung himself at me, burying his head on my chest and hugging me as he cried.

Long story short, I heated up a can of green beans and served them to my smiling toddler who, by the way, proceeded to dip them in his hot cereal as if this was the most natural combination of foods.