"[Name of chain Mexican fast food restaurant where he's been getting his burritos]!"
In days of yore, I would have instantly thought, "we have to go there now, it's so great Charlie asked!" This would have been my response when Charlie was much younger—5 or so—and just starting (emphasize starting) to speak clearly enough, so that we could mostly recognize what he was saying.
When he was around 7, our jumping to respond to Charlie talking started to get a little more harried, as we noted him getting agitated when his words were not near-immediately matched to the thing asked for. I guess you could say, we started to be as conditioned to responding in a certain way—as fast as possible—to Charlie's words as he was to speak them.
Talking and, indeed, communicating have always been challenging for Charlie. It took so much effort—huge efforts on Charlie's part, most of all—to learn to talk that, years ago, it never really occurred to me that there might be a day when Charlie's speech could, besides helping him, create new problems.
But that's the stage we appear to be at right now. Of course it's a daily wonder that Charlie can and does talk, and that he's so motivated to get his point across, to use words and phrases to make meaning. But the obsessive-compulsive tendencies we observe in Charlie's behavior also show up in how he uses language. Words and phrases for things he likes (sushi, burritos; the ocean; music) are used a lot: Who doesn't, after all, like to talk a lot about favorite things? But a growing difficulty for Charlie is how he uses, and perhaps over-uses, those favorite words, perhaps—
(I like to use a lot of perhaps's in writing about Charlie's language and speech as much of what I infer about it is just, that, inferences based on observations and reflections from my own study of a lot of languages, some linguistics, and a great deal of literature)
—perhaps to comfort himself? because those are tried and true words he knows have, at some point, brought him something he likes a lot and that has brought at least immediate comfort and pleasure? And, perhaps, because Charlie doesn't have a ton of phrases to talk himself out of feeling bad, he over-overuses those key phrases. And we, eager to comfort an upset boy, have regularly rushed to reinforce what Charlie says, and then—of late—wondered why he sometimes got five times more upset when we did (lots of banging, wailing, crying, general unhappiness).
Having thought about all this for the past couple of months, and it being 3.40pm and Charlie having just had a snack, this was my answer to his request yesterday afternoon, after a pause as we crossed the state highway:
"We have to put away to your bookbag and Mom needs to do something."
I avoided saying "home" as that's a word with very specific meanings to Charlie, namely "we're not going to do what you want and we're most certainly not going to go where you want."
A glance in the rear view mirror showed a smiling Charlie, and I carefully drove over one pot-hole laden road (we got a flat tire on it a few weeks ago). Once home, he rummaged in the fridge, asked before eating some things, and (as yesterday), betook himself to his room for an extended rest. (Again giving me time to Get Some Work Work Done.)
He got up after awhile, put on his shoes, and looked at me.
"I want. White car."
So into the car we went, and to the place Charlie had mentioned a number of hours before.
It's just my suspicion, but—based on Charlie's grin as he stood in line for his burrito to be made, the speed with which he devoured it in the car, and his general peaceful-easy-feelingness until he went to bed at a late-ish, but not outrageously late, time—that a little waiting made for a much more satisfying (not to mention delicious-er) meal.
And another fine day.