Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Effin' Sheep Movie Story, or Fun with Echolalia

The boy has never been a good sleeper.  I have to remind myself of this whenever I start waxing sentimental and idealizing his babyhood.  Yes, he was a lovely baby.  We could take him anywhere and he would go to anyone.  He would coo and laugh and go with the flow.  But he did not sleep.

At first, I didn't really notice.  Sure, I couldn't put him in his crib while he was still awake like I did with his brother, but I didn't mind.  He was my baby and we weren't having any more.  I'd rock him to sleep and love every second of it.

Ah, but then I went back to work.  And the kid still wouldn't sleep.  Or rather, he'd fall asleep and wake up in the middle of the night, much like he does now.  In the early days, we'd park him in his pack-and-play in front of the t.v. and play a Baby Einstein video on repeat all night.  Then one of us would flop out on the couch and doze to the sounds of the music box orchestra.

(Side note:  Have you ever learned something from a Baby Einstein video and played it off like it's just something you know?  Oh, that tune?  That’s Mozart.  Oh, and that’s a painting by Van Gogh.  Yeah, his yellow period.  What do mean you can’t tell the difference between Bach and Handel?  Bach is a bunny and Handel is a turtle.  Duh.)

Fast-forward a couple of years, and the boy still wasn’t sleeping and he was still into Baby Einstein.  (A friend of mine calls those videos Baby Crack.  They’re also Autism Toddler/Preschooler-and-Beyond Crack.) So, his latest obsession was the Baby Einstein Lullaby Time.  I thought it would be soothing.  I didn't expect him to stim on the sheep puppet. 
A feast of stuffed animals!

It was a really awful time for us because he was up all hours and he was a lot more mobile.  It was around this time that he first buttered the couch.  (I say "first" because we had several couch-buttering incidents before we finally put an industrial lock on the fridge.)  He also wasn't very good at telling us what he wanted.  He had a few words and signed a little, but he often used his own language to describe what he wanted.  For example, the Baby Shakespeare video was called the "Blah Movie."  Why?  Because the dragon puppet says "Blah!", but not in that movie.  He says "Blah!" in Baby Mozart.  I suspect you know this already.

So, we'd had several sleepless nights in a row when the boy woke up at three (again!) and started pitching a fit.  I brought him into the living room so he didn't wake the rest of the house, and prepared myself for some weeping and movie charades.  Instead, I got this:

"I want the fucking sheep movie, please."

Clear as a bell, but I couldn't even respond.

"Wuh, what?"
"I want the fucking sheep movie, pleeeeeease, Mommy!" he wailed, adding signs for emphasis.
"You want the flock of sheep movie?" I thought a little redirection was in order.
"OK!  The sheep movie it is!" And I started the movie.

He curled up on the couch, snuggled with his Pooh Bear, and muttered, "Yes, sheep movie, sheep movie, fucking sheep movie."  I returned to the bedroom and pulled the covers off my husband.

"Dude," I began in the sternest voice I could muster.  "Is there any reason why our son just asked to watch the fucking sheep movie?!"

It took him a second to respond.  He rubbed his eyes and yawned.

"Perhaps, in a moment of weakness at three a.m., I may have said something like, Fine, I'll put on the fucking sheep movie,"  he admitted.
"Well, great, because now our three year-old is asking for the fucking sheep movie," I sighed.
"OK, but did he ask in a complete sentence?"
"Well, there you go," he grinned, rolled over, and was instantly asleep.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The $22 Temper Tantrum

We generally avoid the mall.  It's 40 minutes away, noisy, and full of my students.  But there was stuff we needed to get and I had a coupon.

I sometimes bribe the boy with the promise of french fries if he behaves.  He wasn't too awful, but we didn't stay long.  (He let us know it was time to go by prostrating himself on the floor in front of a jewelry kiosk.  It was awesome.)

We got out of there and went to lunch.  We thought he'd be happy.  This time, though, it wasn't french fries that he wanted.  He wanted to go to the "Star Store," or Toys R Us.  (There's a star in the logo, so there you go.)  OK, eat your french fries, and we'll take a quick walk through the Star Store.


So my husband and the ten year-old waited in the car, and I took the boy into Toys R Us.  He didn't wander or look around.  He didn't notice the gigantic Monsters University display.  He walked with purpose, making a beeline to the action figures.  He hadn't been there in months, but he seemed to know exactly where to go.

The Phineas and Ferb toys.  I took a quick look, and thought, OK, good.  Nothing he doesn't already have.


He picked up a set of figures with a little car.  $22.  He hugged it to his chest.

"I want Phineas and Ferb toys, please."
"Yes, sweetie.  You have these at home.  Let's put this back."
"I want Phineas and Ferb toys!  I WANT PHINEAS AND FERB TOYS!"
"You have these at home."
This effin' thing.
But he was inconsolable.  He threw himself on the floor, clinging to the toy, and moaning, "Box, box, box!"

That's when I realized just how badly I'd screwed up. See, it didn't matter that he already has these toys.  It also didn't matter that he doesn't actually play with most of them.  See, what mattered is that these Phineas and Ferb toys were in the box.  He wanted them, but he was not going to get them.  I'd be damned if I was paying $22 for a box.

I somehow got the box away from him and marched him out of the store without having to resort to the fireman's carry.  I was so jazzed by this minor victory that I ignored the people staring at my sobbing son.  I set my face in an expression that I'll call "determined serenity"--if there is such a thing.

By the time we got in the car, he was in full-blown tantrum.  He was screaming, sweating, and kicking the back of my seat.  The funny part is that while he was rhythmically and savagely kicking my seat, he was screeching, "PLEASE!  PLEASE!  PLEASE!"  Good manners!  Then he noticed that our car was moving away from the store, and belted out, "GO THIS WAAAAY!  GO THIS WAAAAY!"  Our 10 year-old pointed out that he sounded just like Steven Tyler, and I about burst with pride.  Not only did he handle his brother's meltdown with humor, but he also made an Aerosmith reference.  Excellent!

Eventually, the boy wore himself down enough that my husband and I could hear each other over the screaming.

"I didn't want to set a precedent.  And I sure as hell didn't want to spend $22 on a box," I explained.
"No, you did the right thing," my husband replied.

Just then, the boy took off his shoes and flung them at the dashboard.

"But you know," my husband continued, "whatever money you saved on not buying the toy, we will more than make up for in alcohol consumption tonight."