Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Point Would Be...?

Sometimes Arthur, that champion of verbosity, is a bit incoherent. "Mar. Wee. My pic. chr. My, my, my ic. chu. Ic. Chr. Pic. ic. chr. Onna cowwwn. Turr." You have to understand that this is not stuttering. There is no strain in his throat and jaw, there is no tension, there is no distress in his face. The words are comiing out slowly. Where I've written a period, there is a pause of about a second's duration. A comma is about a half-second's pause. Try it: Say those syllables out loud, giving the pauses indicated, musingly, consideringly, in an almost completely flat monotone with a ever-so-slight cheerful inflection. You're just sharing information. "Your picture is on the counter?" "Yeah. Inna kit. Chn. The one wiv da, da, da..." Pause while he plays with his hands, shifts from one foot to the other, looks skyward. "My pic.ic.pic...chr. The one wiv da, da, da cull. urr. wiv da cull. ur. wiv da cull.ur. pay. pa. pay. prz. on. it." I have the upper hand on you folks. I have the context. What I'm quickly losing is patience. "The picture you made by gluing scraps of coloured papers?" I have part of the context, at any rate; let's see if we can hasten this to its destination. "Yeah." "It's on the kitchen counter?" Now that we've established this, I'm waiting for the next installment. His collage is on the kitchen counter. And...? And he'd like to make another? And it has water spilled on it? And he'd like me to get it down for him? "Yeah. It's on... it's on..." More shifting. More gazing skyward. "On. On. On. The. Cowwwwn. On. The. Cown. Tr." "Your picture is on the counter. Yes, I know this, Arthur. We put it there." "Wiv da. Cull. urd. Pay. pay. pay. prz. On. It." "Your picture with the coloured papers on it is on the kitchen counter." I'm being warm, I'm being kind. "Yes, sweetie, I understand." I understand, I understand, I understand, already!! It's on the counter. It's in the kitchen! It's made with coloured papers! Yes, yes, all right already! Cut to the chase, boy! Since he doesn't seem to be in any hurry to get to the point, I press the issue. "Why are you telling me this, Arthur?" He looks at me blankly. Apparently the question surprises him. "I dunno." Proving my absolute professionalism, I ignore my fingers' involuntary twitching and do not shake the boy, I do not scream, I don't even let him see me roll my eyes. I turn my back. Emma giggles as she gets full value of the strain in my twisted face and sees my hands clutch the air as I let out a silent "Aaaaaaagh!" Emma's been playing a fair bit of Sims2 which her stepsisters got for Christmas. She has an interpretation. "You know what? He's like one of those really outgoing Sims. His social bar is dropping and he needs to talk to fill it up. It doesn't matter what he says, it doesn't matter if the other guy is listening, he just needs to talk." It makes good sense, really.

13 Comments:

Blogger LoryKC said...

My son sounds like this sometimes but hasn't played the Sims!
(Plays anything and everything you can put in a GameCube but not Sims)
Once, my hubbie tried the "just spit it out, Son!" but then he started spitting.
Then asked...
...(you know what's coming)
..."IS IT OUT?!"

2/04/2006 04:25:00 PM  
Blogger Andie D. said...

Ben does a similar nonsensical routine where he will tell us something completely out of context and leading nowhere. We finally figured out that it's usually when he wants to get in on a conversation or just wants a little attention.

But still! How does one teach a child not to do this?

2/05/2006 12:41:00 AM  
Blogger Kristen said...

ARGH! The. Sllloooowww talking about nothing relevant whatsoever! DRIVES ME NUTS.

2/05/2006 01:06:00 AM  
Blogger kimmyk said...

maybe he was just checkin to see if it was still there?

maybe he wanted ya to take another looksie?

cute story!

now miss emma on the sims? she's gettin too smart for her own good.

2/05/2006 07:36:00 AM  
Anonymous J said...

LOL. "His social bar is dropping." I love Emma's interpretation.

2/05/2006 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger Mary P. said...

Lory: LOL I saw it coming, yes, indeed. Literal little critters, aren't they?

Andie: Arthur is doing it, as Emma cleverly deduced, for exactly the same reasons: he wants attention, he wants social stimulation. He does not particularly need meaningful conversation, however.

One of the best ways to discourage something is to ignore it. This does not always mean pretending it's not happening, though. I had a client who "ignored" his son's whining by conversing with the boy as if he was speaking in a normal tone of voice. I ignore whining by being "unable" to hear it!

In this case, I could have chosen to "not hear" the incoherent speech. "Arthur, I'm sorry, but I can't hear you when you talk like that. Take a minute and think about what you want to say. When you can say it smoothly, come tell me." And then walk away from him, leaving him to sort it out - or find something different to do!

kimmyk: Whoooo knows? I'm of the opinion that the picture was entirely secondary: what he wanted - and got! - was my attention. But there are less excruciatingly Boooring ways to get it. And that Emma? She's a smart little cookie, all right!

J: Hello and welcome! I think Emma hit the nail bang on the head. Who knew the Sims could provide an interpretive window on the world? (I've always been annoyed by the fact that you can lose your job by taking off two consecutive days. Hello? Weekends, anyone?)

2/05/2006 04:14:00 PM  
Blogger Jenorama said...

I don't know whether it is my years with children in speech therapy or whether you are just that good, because I understood what he was saying perfectly.

2/05/2006 06:36:00 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

I agree that he probably just wanted attention, I've known kids like that- and because you took the time to listen to him, he got what he wanted!

2/05/2006 07:24:00 PM  
Blogger Mary P. said...

Jen: The answer is "Yes". Yes, you are that good, and so am I!

Angela: You are quite right. It's not such a bad way to get attention - better than beating on another child or throwing a toy, for example. Now that I'm on to this tactic, though, next time I'll deal with it direct.

2/05/2006 08:42:00 PM  
Blogger Queen Bee said...

If I am not an adult, I too wish I can talk volumes (not necessary interpretable in any known language) and get away with it. Ha!

2/06/2006 03:07:00 AM  
Blogger Anon said...

Mar. Wee.... Yu, need to.. ave. a. bra. ke, fro. m. chil. drun.

2/06/2006 05:48:00 AM  
Blogger Mary P. said...

QueenBee: Well, I'm onto him now. He'll have to come up with a different strategy for getting attention.

Si: You think? Good thing I have a week off coming up next month. :-)

2/06/2006 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger AverageMom said...

Oh dear god. Could you please come over and let my child talk to you? For just a minute? Because her social bar is way, way down. It must be. Why else would she be talking to the walls, me, her brother, and the animals. all day long?!!

2/06/2006 05:13:00 PM  

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