Silver Linings (#438)

Today saw the return of flying food—both times Charlie was hunched over a small bowl of food at the kitchen table and eating furiously fast and then, whang. Both times he cried out, went into his old back arch, and I directed him out to the living room where he knelt on the floor to do a puzzle.
I have diagnosed him with another big butterfly like the one he had during his last days of summer school and right before we went to the beach for vacation. And, while Charlie always enjoys my parents’ visits, their arrival and departure (next Thursday, coinciding with Charlie’s first day of school) has long been a source of worries for Charlie (for one thing, Charlie seems to worry about how he will feel when they leave).

And seven straight days of rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain and gray, gray, gray, gray, gray, gray, gray skies can make any nine-year-old whose favorite pursuits are swimming and biking one unhappy camper. (Though, I do feel we were overly lucky in having two straight weeks of sunshine while at the beach—better rain now than rain on one’s vacation.)

Both instances of food-throwing were followed by an Unexpected Good Thing.

After instance #2 (the better part of his dinner) and as Charlie was calming down, my parents and I strategized about how best to allay Charlie’s anxiety over their inevitable departure. My dad noted that when they visit Charlie is usually not in school and they do “all fun things”—-movies (they took Charlie to see How To Eat Fried Worms today), trips to difference places, “not-school.”

I pointed out to my dad that often what a typical child might think fun—visits to toy stores, movies with unlimited grandparent-provided popcorn and drinks—is not necessarily “fun” for Charlie. A movie means he has to sit quietly, not kick the chair in front of him with his busy feet, and pay attention to a lot of stimuli rapidly passing before his eyes. Charlie always asks to leave toy stores as soon as we walk in and, aside from staring at the racks of Barney DVDs, he never asks for anything. These are non-structured activities in which it is not always clear what Charlie is supposed to do with himself. School is full of order, structure, and predictability, with careful attention paid to setting up things up so he can learn best, can thrive and achieve.

“I never thought of it that way,” said my dad.

“School is kind of fun for Charlie, because he knows what’s going to happen,” I said. “He likes it.”

“That’s just what you were like,” said my mom. “You always wanted to be back in school when it was summer.”

My parents made plans to visit a certain toy shop (it has shelves of the puzzles Charlie likes to do) tomorrow and to talk A LOT about school, buy school supplies—a new pencil box, backpack knickknacks—with Charlie.

Unexpected Good Thing #2 was Charlie wanting to do dot-to-dot drawing after dot-to-drawing after dot-to-dot drawing. I had asked him to do just one and then he flipped to the next page and said “Cow!”, with a smile.

“It’s not a cow, silly,” I said. “It’s a fish!”

Charlie kept saying “cow!” as he started each new page. I could tell by looking at his eyes how he was sometimes unsure of where the next numbered dot was and then a thought occurred to me.

“Cow!” said Charlie.

“Count!” I said.

“Cown,” said Charlie, and was busy with the crayon.

(By the way, it is true that, when I was a child, I preferred to be in school rather than on vacation.)

(Mothers may doubt themselves, but they know what’s what.)

4 Responses to “Silver Linings (#438)”
  1. I love the way you see Charlie’s world, and how it helps to explain it even to your father. You have such a graceful and insightful way of doing so always.

    We took the boys, on yes, this too a rainy afternoon to “Fried Worms”. Big brother loved it, but Silly Sam, who recites, copies and mimics every action (and copies noises almost identical), did the same “gag/Puke” noise as the lead character did the first time in the movie for the rest of the movie. It was a cute movie and fun to see after sharing the book with my students over the years.
    Sam too does not care about toy stores, which sometimes makes me sad for a 4 1/2 year old. But, I will admit, that compared to his NT brother (who doesn’t need another toy on this earth but thinks he does), it is more pleasant to go places like that with Sam who doesn’t ask for anything 🙂

  2. Mamaroo says:

    Isn’t it the best feeling when you figure out what they want or need or are tring to say, like you did with “cow”? I love that.

    Though I was never much of a student, I always loved going back to school too. I loved getting new school supplies. I kind of missed that this year. In the past I would be spending this time setting up my classroom to teach. I always loved that too. This year, I have no classroom, but I have been organizing my EI paperwork with a new binder. It just feels good to be a part of the new school year with a new binder.

    I thing Roo was excited when I bought him a new Barney backpack and Buzz Lightyear lunch box. He is/will be happy to be back in school too.

  3. I was very surprised at how eager Charlie was to do those dot-to-dots—he sat down and did some 15 drawings, all while smiling and saying “cow” and I was smiling when I figured it out!

    I like that feeling, too, of getting a “fresh start” in September as school beings…… I splurged and got a new bag to lug “my office” around.

    My parents thought the movie was pretty gross—guess they won’t be reading the book!

  4. tara says:

    We have tentatively scheduled to see the worm movie tomorrow-
    I may have Ron take Owen because it seems a a bit gross to me too!!
    Of course we can’t talk about school around here- Owen was up for three hours last night with an anxiety attack because school is approaching. It is a gift that Charlie feels so comfortable in school.
    We are both fortunate to have great parents to look after our boys- my mom spent the weekend here with Owen.

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