Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: The Skooby Monologues

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Skooby Monologues

(Written Saturday, December 16, 2006)

We are enjoying a quiet Saturday at home today. I plan on getting out to dinner this evening with friends but have nothing else planned this weekend. My neighbor very graciously invited Erik over to see the life-sized Santa she purchased, and we may wander over there tomorrow. When I mention Santa, Erik says, “Ho, ho, ho!”

I am extremely careful about filtering what Erik sees and hears in terms of the media. We keep the television off most of the time, and the shows that the other kids and mothers seem to be familiar with at Erik’s school are foreign to both of us. Still, I have found myself penning angry letters in my head as even the commercials on the radio hardly seem safe anymore. I’m not the neighborhood prude, by any means (ahem), but when it comes to my son, I try to keep things in his environment rated golly G. After all, he’s only 2 years old. I save my crime shows for hours when he is in bed, and, for the most part, I change the popular music channel in the car when things get a little steamy on the radio. For instance, I heard his little voice in the back seat singing “Yeah! Yeah!” along with Ludacris to “Shake Your Money Maker” on the way home the other day. After a quick assessment of the lyrics, I winced and immediately switched over to National Public Radio, thinking that was a better choice. Besides, I could catch up on the headlines in traffic. Erik wasn’t being talkative, anyway.

You would never guess in a million years what happened.

An entire two days later, I turned on the television as Erik was headed off to bed and happened to land on a show about JonBenet Ramsey as I flipped through the channels to see what was on. Erik crossed the room just as the narrator began describing the crime, and I automatically picked up the remote control to quickly switch the channel to something else -- just as the first and half of the second syllable of a word for a specific part of the female anatomy was mentioned. As I was basking in the glow of being America’s perfect mother, shielding my son from the evils of the world and puckering up to give him a good night kiss, his sweet mouth opened and he matter-of-factly FINISHED THE WORD. He didn’t mumble. He didn’t stutter. It was clear as day. It seemed to hang in the room like a neon soap bubble. Both Brian and I looked at each other with our mouths agape as Erik continued to march out of the living room as if he had said nothing at all. Brian confirmed that my mind was not playing a trick on me and that was indeed the word he had spoken. Where in the WORLD would he have heard that word? I racked my brain. The only thing I could think of was a news story I was listening to on National Public Radio in which they mentioned this particular word once. The kid is amazing. He didn’t repeat the word in the car at the time but apparently absorbed it. Of course, thankfully, he has no idea what the word means, and there are more horrible things he could say. Being a medical transcriptionist, I have to admit I was a little proud, but any sense of pride I may have will undoubtedly instantly dissolve in the grocery store if he decides to try that word out again.

It is becoming apparent that despite his struggles, his language is coming along in leaps and bounds at a freakish pace. Most people don’t have the opportunity to hear him speak like he does in the comfort of our home when he is relaxed. His therapist mentioned Thursday that she knows how lucky she is that she can see him in all of his glory at home, because at school he is still quite shy and reserved around the other children.

I had a very hard time watching him work on going up and down stairs with his therapist Thursday. I reached the point where I simply couldn’t watch and put away laundry instead. He doesn’t seem to be even close to being able to grab a hand railing and successfully place each foot on a step by himself. He can hardly manage it with help. It’s just unbearable watching him struggle sometimes, and it seems so hopeless. I know it’s not, but he has some pretty gigantic hurdles as far as the way his brain works that other kids don’t have to deal with. I do know that the brain can be trained to accomplish things in spite of these obstacles (see “Spatial Relations and Learning” in the October 2006 Heart to Heart). I’m not convinced he can actually determine where the steps are with his lack of depth perception. His braces make it impossible to walk on his toes, but they now turn in worse than ever, which is an entirely new problem. We will be discussing that more with his physical therapist. I don’t see an end to his leg braces in sight, but I have come to terms with that. They are part of our routine now, and I am highly skilled at putting them on and taking them off in a matter of mere seconds. Between footie PJs and Erik’s constant brace/shoe combination, the boy virtually never sees his toes and actually smiles at them when I remove his footwear. That’s a little hard, too, but that’s life for us now. Summer will come again, and the footie PJs will go back in the closet.

In the meantime, I will enjoy watching Erik shine by greeting people by name and memorizing every word he hears. He was trying to tell me something the other day, and I suddenly realized he was trying to say “excavator.” Lo and behold, he was standing next to his beloved toy excavator he received for his birthday. Over the past month it has become apparent we are entering a new chapter now. It’s exciting beyond belief and extremely scary at the same time, and I am really enjoying watching Erik and the other WS kids in our circle succeed at whatever they are accomplishing or tackling at the moment. There are so many good things ahead of us.

In summary, I would say that life is as perfect as it can be with all of the imperfections we are learning to live with here, and I’ll continue to be the happiest, proudest mother on the planet -- as long as Erik doesn’t casually mention anybody’s vagina in the 12 items or less line at Safeway.


Anonymous Kathleen said...

Hi Nancy, Brady's Aunt Kathleen here - I pop over to your blog once in a while - and very much enjoy your posts! Thanks for the chuckle this afternoon. What strikes me about your story is how normal it is. EVERY mother has a story about their child saying something along the lines that Erik did in some inappropriate place - like the Express line at Safeway. Nothing related to Williams, his therapies, etc., just something that every little boy does :-)

Mine was my stepson Adam, who substituted "F" for "T" - especially in the word "truck." He loved to point out trucks - all kinds of trucks. We were in line at an ice cream stand - at least 25-30 people around us - when a dumptruck drove by. Oh no. Oh yes - he got very excited, pointed, and yelled, "Look - a dumb*uck!"

11:53 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I'm sure that this is the first of many words that he is going to learn that have "potential embarrassment," all over them. My boys haven't embarrassed me much yet with words, but my daughter sure has!! When it happens it is definitely humiliating, but as time goes by, remembering those moments always give you a good laugh.

2:07 PM  
Blogger Kerry said...

You know it's going to happen, so just be prepared! :)

I know how hard it is to watch your child not be able to do what others can do easily, but moreso what joy it is when he accomplishes something. I was so excited to hear Erik talk the other day I called three people to remind them to check your blog. It didn't occur to me that Brady's not there yet - I'm still reeling on his smile. :) They will all get there in their own time. After that, they'll be dating loose women and gambling, if I remember your earlier words correctly. :)
Love ya - K

3:56 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

ROFL Nancy.....I promise, he will embarrass you to no end before it's all said and goes with the territory. Especially with boys. For instance, coming from the mouth of my 3 year old to his uncle at a family gathering..."I'm a boy and I have a penis. Do you have a penis? How big is your penis?"

For what it's worth, I'm laughing with you, not at may just take you a few more years before you catch up..hehehe

9:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Nancy it is going to get worse before it gets better... Emma dropped the F bomb on her third b-day...She had heard her Dads friend and Chris one day when they were in the garage working on his car. LOL Funny thing is that is the only bad word she says, talk about doing nothing half assed...We have to so watch what we say for fear it is going to get repeated at Daycare or whereever...Isn't it fun to watch them develop


2:13 AM  

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