Posts Tagged ‘special needs social skills’

Patience and Foortitude, Part 5: Machine Gun Mouth

October 17, 2011 1 comment

It’s hard to believe James didn’t speak until he was four and a half years old.

Sometimes I have to reach deep within myself for a bit of that initial indescribable excitement I felt when he said “up,” “pluh” (please), and “muh” (more). Mere months later, after we had started to give up hope and were looking into assistive communication and teaching sign language, he was stringing words together and was well on his way to being what we refer to as “Machine Gun Mouth.”

I don’t know much about guns, but whenever I envision a machine gun I think of a blast of ammunition spraying out and random bullets hitting whatever people fall into their path. Replace “ammunition” with “conversation” and “bullets” with “words” and you have Machine Gun Mouth, aka my son James.

You probably think I’m exaggerating, or at the very least being a little bit mean. Unless, of course, you’re one of the people who spend a lot of time with James in which case I am willing to bet you chuckling at the accuracy of the above description.

I’m often walking 3 kids back and forth to school, so I’m not going to go to the effort of taping our conversations. But recently one morning my husband stayed home with the babies while I walked James and I was finally able to record about 6 minutes worth of an actual trip to school on my cell phone voicemail.

Without further adieu, here is James aka Machine Gun Mouth (my responses are in italics):

So do you love me? I love you so much. You’re the best mom (hand up for high five).

James I love you but I want you to change it up today – you can’t wake up so grumpy every morning.

I’ll change it up. See? (big smile) See? I changed it up. Okay, good.

See mom? I changed it up? Mom, look I changed it up. Yes I see James – thank you.

Mom? I’m going to change it up. Good, now stop repeating yourself please.

Oh, that’s cool. What? I don’t know. What’s cool? I don’t know.

I love you so much. Thank you. Do you love me so much? You know I always do because I’m your mom.

So, you know what my mind is thinking? No, what? How good I’m going to be today.

It’s a beautiful day today.

James, keep up. You don’t want to be late.

Mom, you’re so pretty. You’re the prettiest mom. Thank you. What do you say to me? What do I say? That I’m the most famous boy. Oh, really? Yeah, I’m the famous boy and you’re the prettiest mom.

Call of duty 4 the lethal war. What? Call of duty 4 you know, for ipod. No, what about it? Its call of duty 4, you know? The lethal war. What about it James? Why are you talking about it? Noah plays it in Schenectady (distant cousin seen once every few years) and its a shooting game. Shooting games are bad. Why are you thinking about this? Call of duty 4 is for ipod. ipad or ipod? ipod. Look at that cute black dog. Yeah that is a cute dog. Remember hally tosis and he breathed on the robbers and knocked them out with his tongue (book we read, last year)? Yeah, good old hally tosis. it was so gross, right? and the robbers went “blah” right?

Look, there’s a baseball. Baseball, huh? See it, mom? Mom – baseball is cool, huh? yep. you know, baseball. I play baseball like this (throws a pretend ball) on my team, right? Right, mom? James, look where you’re going! Don’t walk until you see the white walking man. Where do Dad and I play baseball? James, stop talking while you’re in the street – right now. Where? Do we play at Riverside Park? No talking just walking! James eyesontheroadrightnow!! Okay.

Oh, we can start talking again. Whew, we made it across the street!

Mom. mom.  yes? mom. what? mom. James spit it out. Um… I love you.

So today is a nice day right? yep.

I love you so much, do you love me so much? Yep.

It’s a nice sunny day. right mom? right? yes James.

Treat ’em right this Halloween night! (said while pointing at a passing stranger with a small dog who looked at us strangely and hurried away) What did you say? You should treat ’em right this Halloween night. Right, mom? (starting to laugh despite myself) Where did you ever think of such a thing? I learned that from Duane Reade.

So, what do you do on Halloween? Do you trick or treat? trick or treat, right? you know? what do you need? need? you know? oh, to bring a bag for candy? and what do people give you? mom? what do people give you? mom, do they give you candy? James, stop at the corner. James, right now! You need to look where you’re going – do you see the orange hand?

Now, this conversation is when it’s just James and me and yes, that was really only about 6 minutes worth of a 15 minute walk to school. Okay, go back and try to read all of the following while singing “Wheels on the Bus” and “If You’re Happy and You Know It” and you will be able to experience a tiny bit of what it’s like twice a day for me when I have the other two kids as well. If you can add your own screaming baby track in the background that’s an added bonus about 25% of the time.

Transcribing this conversation was eye-opening for me in some ways. I only said “I love you” back sometimes. I bet that looks terrible! But at what point is it okay not to say “I love you” back? The fifth time? The twentieth time? How about the fiftieth time – in one day? When you consider that James said “I love you” at least three times in six minutes you will realize that this is absolutely no exaggeration. I also noticed that many of my responses were 1-2 words, the way I respond when distracted (or trying to get out of a conversation…).

I know, I know – this is my child, for crying out loud! I’m supposed to say I love you and simultaneously be thrilled at what an affectionate little boy I’ve raised. I should also be extremely grateful because there are plenty of children who did not start talking at 4 years and are still not able to talk at 24 years old. And most of the time I am grateful, or at least cognizant of that fact, truly. But sometimes, I long for a quiet, peaceful minute, or at the very least a conversation that I can follow and be engaged in.

I’m not saying there is anything to be done about this “issue,” but a little venting goes a long way toward refilling the Patience Tank, right? As it often goes with family and loved ones, we all do things that annoy the others from time to time – biting nails, leaving dirty socks on the floor, dumping out ALL of the legos. My husband, who loves me dearly, would probably tell me not to cast the first stone regarding excessive talking.

Or should I say spray the first bullets?

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