Archive for the 'Family' Category

Wheels of Progress

August 5, 2009

On the first day of Sonny’s bicycle program, every time Sonny passed his mother looking in the window, he stuck out his tongue at her. (He has two ways of sticking out his tongue: “I am being silly with you” and “I have not yet learned the words to express what I am feeling because you do not let me watch R-rated movies.” This was not a tongue-sticking of the silly variety.)

On the second day: No tongues, and much less crying, and longer stints on the bicycle before requiring a break. So that’s good. Next up, trying to get those little low-muscle-tone legs to pump enough speed so that he can actually stay upright on two wheels, once he learns how to balance. Right now, my wife watches Sonny go by the window, surrounded by enthusiastic volunteers. She then watches another child, let’s call him Harry, bicycle by the window. Harry then goes by the window again. And again. And again. And only after that does Sonny make another appearance. Harry’s doing four laps for Sonny’s every one. If Sonny wanted to bike to school, he’d have to start out now to get there the following week.

But of course Sonny doesn’t want to bike to school, or bike to anywhere, and that, I think, will be the key to everything: One day he’s going to realize that the bicycle isn’t merely something his annoying parents are making him do, like writing out the alphabet or counting dimes and pennies. A bicycle is a means of escape. Once he figures that out, he’ll learn in no time. Then we’ll have to teach him how to ride around the streets safely. And then we’ll have to start thinking about whether, and when, to let him go off on his own. That’s years away, but who can help thinking about it?


The Big Boy Seat

August 4, 2009

Here’s a video of the Lose The Training Wheels program in action. Sonny had an exhausting day there yesterday, and this morning said he did not want to go back. On the other hand, he wants to earn a trip to the Garbage Museum, so he’ll stick with it. (Yes, we have a GARBAGE MUSEUM in this state. I don’t want to know how much of my tax dollars goes to it.)

I’m now letting Sonny sit in the passenger seat when it’s just him and me in the car. Yesterday my wife came home from her day in Hartford with a strong desire to NOT COOK, so I was sent out to get some food, and Sonny came with me.

We hadn’t done this sooner because I didn’t like the idea of Sonny reaching casually over and throwing the car into reverse, and of course the passenger door isn’t child-proofed like the back seats are. But he understands the things he can and can’t do. He doesn’t touch the door lock, he doesn’t touch the gearshift. What he does, mostly, is try to talk me into letting him play with the power windows:

Sonny: I want to open the windows.

Me: No, Sonny, the air conditioning is on.


Sonny: I want to see the trees! I want to see the sky!

Me: There they are! There are the trees! There’s the sky!

Sonny: No, I want to see them.

Me: …And there they are.

Sonny: I want to see them with the window down!

Me: Windows are see-through, Sonny. It’s probably their biggest selling point. You can see the trees and the sky through the window.

Sonny: No!

Me: We’re not opening the windows. The air conditioner is on.

(A minute of silence. Then:)

Sonny: I’m cold. Turn the air conditioner off!

Me: Nice try, Sonny.

But I like having him next to me. We spell words, and count trucks, and he’s more inclined to listen to the music coming out of the stereo if I seem to be enjoying it, so I bob my head in an exaggerated fashion, like a heavy metal teenager listening to the latest Ozzy album. (God knows what the people in the other cars think when they see a bespectacled forty-year-old man doing this.)

And maybe I let him play with the power windows just a little.

You Can’t Make Me

August 3, 2009

Another weekend, another case of I-don’t-want-to-do-that. Last time, it was a trip to the local amusement park, where Sonny refused to go on any of the rides. This time we went to the local indoor bouncy playground, Bounce U. Sonny did indeed bounce… a little. But the moment I pushed him toward anything even slightly challenging — like climbing up the faux “rock wall” so he could coast merrily down the slide — he freaked and ran to the bench that’s normally reserved for bored and disinterested parents. He just sat there and watched the other kids running around, suddenly not at all interested in joining them.

I did finally manage to get him up the top of one large slide, and he climbed up fine, didn’t have a lick of difficulty… but still didn’t want to do it again. This is the same piece of bouncy apparatus that we couldn’t get him off of a year ago. What is going on in that head of his?

Peanut, meanwhile, found the Supergirl within her. One piece of equipment that has always thwarted her is the Spider Climb. Each level is composed of a bunch of mesh bands, which can be separated and climbed through. Then you have to stand on those very same bands in order to reach up to the next level. Peanut has generally achieved only the second or third level before giving up. Recently, however, Bounce U added a slide from the top of the Spider Climb, and THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING. Now Peanut had to reach the top, so she could slide down.

Luckily, the Bounce U staff member that day was the best ever. Usually these are teenagers who refuse to do one thing more than make sure the little kids don’t kill each other on the equipment. At one of our first visits, we got a guy who spent the entire time shooting baskets at the Bouncy Hoops, his back to all of us. He might as well have been wearing a sign: COULDN’T CARE LESS.

This weekend our staff person was an adorable 17-year-old girl who was every great camp counselor and pre-school teacher rolled into one. When Peanut was having trouble on the Spider Climb, the girl got in there and helped out, climbing up with her every step of the way. The second and third times through, the girl helped again, but less each time. The fourth through 300th time through, Peanut did it by herself, shrieking with little-kid glee at her achievement. I tipped the girl ten bucks.

I hope Sonny gets over his fear (or, anyway, reticence) about doing physical things — and, in fact, I hope he gets over it in the next hour or so, because in just a little while his mother is taking him for the first day of a weeklong program designed to teach him how to ride a bicycle. If he emerges from the program on Friday able to ride a bicycle with no training wheels, these guys are definitely getting the X-Dad Medal of Honor. If only that girl from Bounce U was one of the teachers…

Stuff It

July 31, 2009

Sonny has a tendency to shove food in his mouth until I’m afraid it’s going to start coming out his nostrils. Between that and his tendency to eat with his hands instead of his fork, and his newfound hobby of feeding the dog from the table, Sonny has to be closely watched during mealtimes.

It’s amazing to me how many traits Sonny exhibits that I don’t even consider chalking up to his genetic disorder. Sure, sure, he’s got a broken chromosome, and a lack of the mGlur protein or whatever it’s called, but that’s why Sonny has a hard time reading and adding and doing physical activities. It has nothing to do with eating.

Newsflash! Eating is a physical activity!

This seems mighty obvious in retrospect, but I needed the latest issue of the National Fragile X Foundation Quarterly — or NFXFQ! — to point it out to me. Therein is an article by Shoshana Grunberger on nutrition and sensory issues, which itself refers back to an article back in 2005. (Was I not reading this back in 2005? I guess I wasn’t. Bad X-Dad!)

Anyway, here’s the big takeaway:

…Mouth stuffing is often a result of low muscle tone and poor oral sensory awareness. Low muscle tone results in the poor control of the tongue. This makes smaller pieces of food more difficult to control, which can make the child uncomfortable. The child will compensate by stuffing his mouth with food until the food is easier to move around. In addition, the diminished sensory awareness of many children with FXS results in a desire to fill their mouths with food, until they “feel” its presence. That actually makes eating easier.

I don’t fully get how stuffing your face so completely that it is no longer possible to close your mouth makes eating easier. Sonny certainly doesn’t look like he’s having an easy time of it, and sometimes we have to make him spit out some partly chewed food, which always helps make dinnertime a SPECIAL FAMILY EXPERIENCE.

On the other hand, at least he’s eating. Sonny is, in fact, an amazing eater. He’ll plow through whatever is on his plate so that he can get to dessert, which in his case is inevitably as many cheese sticks as he can get away with. (Yesterday he learned that rather than try to grab seven at once, he can simply go back to the fridge for repeated cheese-stick refills, and his parents are less likely to notice. I’m not sure how many cheese sticks he consumed yesterday before I realized that he seemed to always have a cheese stick in his hand.)

But what’s extra fascinating to me is that we had figured the mouth-stuffing was nothing more than the bad habit of an eight-year-old boy, and it turns out to be genetically predestined. Scott Adams, the Dilbert cartoonist, has a wonderful and philosophical blog where he often argues against humans having free will — he calls us nothing more than “moist robots,” controlled by the chemicals that squirt out from our various glands. Sonny’s actions at the dinner table would seem to be a strong argument in his favor. Sonny doesn’t mean to stuff his face; it’s just something he automatically does to feel more comfortable — just like thousands of other Fragile X kids whose brains are telling them to do the exact same thing.

But even Adams, with his “we’re nothing but robots” point of view, knows we have the capacity to change and improve ourselves. (He would simply argue that it’s the chemicals in our glands that make us want to change.) So Sonny is not destined to spend the rest of his life shoving the entire contents of his dinner plate into his mouth like one of those competitive hot-dog eaters. With guidance and a little help from his developing brain, we can teach him the right way to act at the dinner table. That is, if I can tear myself away from the magazines I keep by my place at the table, because I simply must read while I eat, because that is what I am GENETICALLY PREDISPOSED TO DO.

Always Look On The Bright Side of Life

July 29, 2009

This is a post about how Sonny did at the dentist; about how sad and frightened he was in the car, and how he kept saying, “Daddy…?” in that plaintive voice of his, as a lead-in to, “I don’t want to go to the dentist.” He was nervous and tear-filled in the waiting room, and in the examining area itself, waiting for the dentist to come in, Sonny helplessly flapped all four limbs like he was trying to invent a new kind of dance. The dentist came in, and Sonny, occasionally bursting into fresh tears, nonetheless did everything the man asked, from slapping him a high-five to opening his mouth and looking up at the ceiling. The dentist used no instruments and we didn’t even consider trying to get Sonny into the official dentist chair for an in-depth examination or, heaven forbid, a cleaning. This dentist understands what a special-needs child is, and I’m glad we found him.

Yes, this is a post about how Sonny did at the dentist, and how as soon as the dentist was done, Sonny’s mood changed dramatically. He asked for and received some Cars stickers, and a new toothbrush of course. He asked to sit in the front seat on the drive to school, and he got that, too, playing with the power windows the entire way there, up and down, up and down, up and down, laughing his soulful laugh.

Also, this is a post about taking Sonny to Toys R Us later that evening, as I had promised him. His sister, proving that she is an alien creature sent here to observe human life, cunningly disguised as a seven-year-old girl, blew her cover by GIVING SONNY THE REMAINDER OF HER BIRTHDAY GIFT CARD, which had six unusued dollars on it. It was just Sonny and me at the store, and Sonny ran to the truck aisle and picked out a backhoe that I believe could tear down an actual building.

“That’s too big, Sonny. That’s too much money.”

He shifted his attention to another truck — an even bigger truck.

“No, Sonny. We need a smaller truck than that.”

As always, no temper tantrum, no looking back with regret. He left the big trucks and moved down the aisle and found a medium-sized backhoe, the perfect truck. “I found it!” he said.

“That’s the one you want?”


Most of all, this is a post about going to the cashier at Toys R Us, Sonny taking the lead, running up to the young woman behind the counter and saying to her, “I’m buying a truck!”

“Well, all right!” said the woman, and Sonny laughed, delighted.

After I bought it with Peanut’s gift card and some more money out of my wallet, the woman said, “I don’t suppose you need a bag for that.”

We did not. Sonny carried the truck back to the car, and I let him into the front seat again because he was so good about it, and we listened to a thumping blues song on the way home, and Sonny laughed at how I bobbed my head to the beat, and I laughed at how he laughed.

This is what this post is about.

This post is not about the side trip we made to my office. It is not about the personal work I had started at lunch and had forgotten to take home. And this post is definitely not how we opened the door to my company, stepped inside — and how Sonny, at that moment, began crying, and said he had pooped. This post is not about the panicked cleanup of the terrible, liquidy mess running down my son’s legs, or about how the one co-worker in the office at that hour wouldn’t look me in the eye afterward when I tried explaining what he had witnessed. This post is not about how I stayed in my den all that evening, staring at the work I had brought home, trying not to think about what had happened, and trying to keep away the thoughts that this might all happen again next year, five years from now, ten years from now — who knows when Sonny will finally attain permanent control over himself? The accidents have been less frequent, heaven knows, and he hasn’t had an epic accident like this in I-don’t-know-when. But it’s hard to believe that this will be the very last one.

But, like I said, this is not a post about that. This is a post about how Sonny did at the dentist — very well! — and about how we bought a truck for him afterward, and about how he sat in the living room in his diaper and pajamas, rolling it back and forth, making truck noises.

Paradise by the Dashboard Light

July 27, 2009

A good weekend overall, but it was not without its alarm bells.

Friday evening we went to the local amusement park — in the summer, Friday night is quarter night, meaning we can give the kids a full-fledged amusement park experience for less than ten bucks. Take that, Disney! We’ve been going there for years. At first we were sharply limited by what rides we could actually use: There’s a train that makes a couple of half-mile circuits around the park, and there’s a huge, authentic, beautiful carousel, and there is a kids’ boat ride — eight boats doing endless laps in a small pool. Back when Sonny was four, that was pretty much it. Those few rides again and again for two hours, until exhaustion set in.

So I was delighted when, last summer, Sonny asked to go on the roller coaster. The roller coaster! A kids’ coaster, to be sure — it’s called the Little Dipper. No loop-de-loops, no 90-degree plummets that bring your lunch back up your throat. But the Little Dipper is still way, way more exciting and violent than, say, the boat ride. I thought for sure Sonny would change his mind the moment he sat in the car… or, worse, as the coaster crested the first hill, when we were locked in and it was too late to do anything about it. But he loved it, and we must have rode the coaster a dozen times that day and a hundred times that summer.

Friday, he didn’t want to ride the roller coaster. He said he did, but as soon as we gave the guy the tickets, he changed his mind and started crying. Similarly, he didn’t want to go on the huge, three-story slippy slide, which was another delight he discovered last year — a scary walk up a metal staircase, and halfway up Sonny always had a distinct change of heart, but I was right behind him, pressing him forward, and it was always worth it for the squeals of delight he made as we descended on one of those burlap mats. Friday, he wouldn’t take even the first step up the staircase. Again, instant tears.

I knew something was wrong when he wouldn’t go on the boat ride. This is the first amusement park ride he ever experienced, and if anything should be at the warm, cozy center of his memory, it is this. We have pictures of him in one of those boats, beaming a mile-wide smile. Visiting the boats is a central part of any trip to the park.

This weekend, thought, I put him in the boat and the crying started yet again. What could I do? There was a fair to decent chance that once the ride actually started, he’d change his tune and begin shouting with joy. But I could hardly leave him like this. What was I planning to say to the teenage girl at the controls? “Oh, he’s fine. He cries all the time. Just start the ride.” No. I took him out of there and asked him what he wanted to do.

“Go to the car,” he said.

So that’s what we did. I found Peanut and the wife and told them we were heading back to the parking lot. We’d only been there an hour. We didn’t try ending the evening early — Peanut would have declared that The Most Grotesque Injustice In The History of the World. I could sit with Sonny for half an hour in the car, and Peanut could enjoy a few more rides.

Once in the car, Sonny’s mood improved dramatically. I let him sit in the front seat, which is damn near unprecedented. I also let him — I hope you are sitting down — I also let him PLAY WITH THE WINDOW. Up and down! Up and down! When the window was down, he could wave out the window at passersby. “Hello! Hi!” Families said hello back to him, some smiling, some clearly put off. When the window was up… why, it could be brought right back down again!

He also played with the sunroof, and the mirror behind the sun visor, and the magic little compartment beside the map light that’s designed to hold your sunglasses. Why did we drive 45 minutes to an amusement park when I could have made Sonny’s week without even leaving the driveway?

The next day, Saturday, we went to the beach. The beaches in my small Connecticut town are criminally underused — we have more than once arrived there at the peak of summer to find the parking lot practically empty. So we were taken somewhat aback on Saturday to find the beach packed wall to wall with families. Who were all these people? Where had they come from? How had they all discovered the beach on the same day? Furthermore, we had arrived at the very peak of high tide, and the beach had been shrunk to a narrow strip of sand. We shouldered our way through the throngs and found a place to lay out our blanket.

It was good for a while. The kids went down to the water (it was about fifteen steps away) and splashed. Sonny, bless him, understood without being told that today was not a good day for throwing rocks into the ocean, his favorite beach activity. Some of the other kids invited him to help big some kind of sand-and-driftwood apparatus. That’s always an interesting moment. Do they understand that Sonny doesn’t quite get what they are saying? What will their reaction be when they see that he is drooling? This time, thankfully, the kids were content to speak slower and give Sonny a job pouring sand onto a pile. Sonny did that for a few minutes, and then walked away the project. None of the other kids seemed too distraught about that. (Peanut stayed and helped build the whatever-it-was for the entire rest of our visit.)

Sonny came back to me and said the words I knew he was going to say: “Wait in the car?”

“No, Sonny. We’re enjoying the beach! Let’s take a walk.”

“I don’t want to take a walk. I want to wait in the car.”

We took a walk. (I’m the boss here.) We took a walk to the pier that juts out into the ocean, where the fishermen hang out. This is Sonny’s favorite place on the beach, or is normally. Today he just wasn’t into it. Maybe the beach was too crowded. More likely he was hearing the siren song of the power windows in the Acura. And the sunroof! And the sunglasses holder!

Normally the fishermen on the pier are know-nothing hobbyists, people who plonk their line straight down into the water, apparently hoping to knock a fish unconscious with the sinker. This day we had a more serious lineup — people who knew how to cast their line out fifty yards are more with a practiced flip of the arm. I knew these guys were a step up on the professionalism scale because one of them had actually caught a fish. A sea robin, which to my mind is a useless and inedible junk fish, but at least the guy had caught something. Sonny was pretty excited to see that, although he beat a hasty retreat when another fellow brought up a crab trap filled with crabs. He opened the trap and all the crabs made a break for it. (RUN FOR IT! WE HAVE SIX LEGS AND HE ONLY HAS TWO!) That was more exposure to wild animals than Sonny was prepared for, and he was halfway back down the pier before I even noticed, and that was the end of our walk up the beach.

So we walked back and Sonny picked up right where he left off: “Wait in the car now?”

I sighed. “Sonny, go play in the water! Dig in the sand with your truck! The beach is your FAVORITE PLACE ON EARTH.”

“I want to wait in the car!”

By the end of the weekend I was a little distraught that, suddenly, the one thing Sonny wants to do out of doors is play with the car’s power windows. But over a night’s sleep I’m seeing the bright side: We now have a powerful new reward to get Sonny to do what we want. Tomorrow, in fact, Sonny (unbeknownst to him) has a dentist appointment. I think I know how to get him to behave there.

From the memory banks: Sonny’s first word

July 23, 2009

Sonny was pretty much mute until well past the age of three. His mom got him signed up for my state’s robust “Birth to Three” program, and aid workers came to the house regularly. One of them taught Sonny a bunch of sign language, and for a while that was how we communicated with our son. (Sonny would do the “more” signal long after he finally started talking.) Alas, that therapist was only around a short while before she was replaced by a second woman who had a rather broad sense about what constituted “speech therapy.” You and I might think a speech therapist would spend the bulk of her time working on getting a silent child to speak. This woman seemed equally content to wordlessly roll a ball back and forth with Sonny.

This second therapist was also short-lived, because soon after that Sonny started pre-school. There, he had speech therapy damn near every day, with a wonderful therapist named Carol.

If our house was a little bigger, we might consider installing a shrine to Carol. Pictures, candles, the whole works. Sonny entered pre-school silent as a rock and left there jabbering like a baby chimpanzee.

It didn’t happen overnight, and for a while it didn’t seem like there was any progress at all. Around that same time, I lost my second job in less than a year. Thankfully, I found a new one pretty quickly, although this new job was very different from anything else I had previously done. Most of my previous work experience was with words — editing magazine articles, or writing design specifications, or whatever. Now I was on the business side of things, diving head first into Microsoft Excel, running profit reports and trying to climb a mountain of numbers. For the first few months, it seemed perfectly possible that I might lose three jobs in the space of twelve months.

About eight weeks in to this new job, my boss pointed out a really cement-headed mistake I had made in one of my reports. I forget the nature of it, but it was one of those moments where you think you’re on a roll, doing everything right, just gliding merrily along, until somebody makes a single innocuous comment and suddenly you realize the magnificent extent to which you are an idiot. The full day’s work was shot to hell. I might have spent that whole day playing jacks on my office floor — I would have been equally as productive.

I crawled home to my family and my responsibilities there, which on this day included getting the kids into the bathtub. The kids were downstairs in the den, crawling around, playing with toys. Sonny was in a diaper and a T-shirt. At that point he still had a mop of outrageously curly hair that has since, alas, straightened out.

All I wanted to do was climb into bed, but I said to Sonny, “Are you ready to take a bath?”

And Sonny said, “YES!”

I gawked down at him. He couldn’t have stunned me more with a taser. It’s funny to think about it so many years later — now it can be a challenge to get Sonny to be quiet for sixty seconds. At the time, though, I didn’t expect a response from him, any more than I would have expected one from the dog. (The dog would have said, “NO! NO FREAKING WAY! NO BATH!”)

But a response is what I got. “YES!” I don’t know if that was, in fact, Sonny’s first word. It probably wasn’t. But it was definitely the first time I asked my son a question, had him process it in that fascinating, frustrating, puzzling brain of his, and got back a verbal reply. In that instance, the stupid mistakes I had made at work dissolved into smoke. I lifted Sonny into the air, and we had an extra long bath with all the toys I could fit in there.

Late April, 2004 — it was a great day.

Non-Verbal Communication

July 21, 2009

Sonny has learned to stick out his tongue. By which I mean, Sonny has learned to stick out his tongue so that it means something, and what it does NOT mean is “Happy Birthday.” He drives Peanut crazy with it. “SONNY IS STICKING HIS TONGUE OUT AT ME!!” We hear that once a day if we’re lucky, and three hundred times a day if we are not.

Heaven knows where he picked up the idea that sticking out one’s tongue is a form of rebellion. Now we get it when we tell him to finish his dinner, when we send him back to the bathroom to wash his hands, when we send him back to the bathroom to wash his hands again, this time with soap, when we tell him he has to read a book before we go play in the driveway. The smart thing — which we always recognize well after the fact — would have been to ignore it. We should have pretended we didn’t recognize the stuck-out tongue as meaning anything. But, nooo, we had to respond with reprimands, thus confirming for Sonny that he now had a surefire way to get our goat.

The protruding tongue is a minor-league act of mischief. I recognize that even as I try to rein it in. But Sonny has also developed a second signal, one he uses when he is PISSED OFF: He will chomp down on his hand. Now, his hand is in his mouth more often than not, but this is different. When he is furiously angry, he will sink his teeth hard into the heel of his hand, while leaning towards you, the victim of his wrath, his eyes bulging wide. A disconcerting growling noise completes the picture.

You don’t need a Berlitz class to grasp what he is trying to say. He is doing this because he has not yet learned the magic power of the middle finger. It’s tempting to teach him that more familiar gesture, if only to save his hand from further teeth marks. And, honestly, if he gracefully flipped me the bird, extending that one finger and no others, that would represent a huge jump in his physical coordination. I can easily see myself saying, “Wow, Sonny! That was awesome! Do that again!”

Sonny’s New Hobby

July 20, 2009

Frightening birds.

He has developed the ability to make a high-pitched squeal, sort of like a dentist’s X-ray machine except louder and more sustained. At first he would aim this sonic weapon at the cat, who upon hearing it would suddenly remember urgent business he had on the other side of the house. Twenty thousand reprimands later, Sonny no longer bothers the cat, except for sometimes.

Probably we should stop him from scaring the birds, too, but, meh. Let the kid have one small molecule of naughty fun, is my thinking. He’s not hurting anybody, except for me if I’m standing too close to him when he sets off that vocalized car alarm of his. And he’s so happy, running ahead of us on the town green, flapping his arms and squealing, advancing on the small flock of finches who at first just stand there, as if they cannot believe their little eyes. Then they realize there is a genuine lunatic in their midst, and they scramble off in a flurry of tiny wings.

Sonny stayed with his grandparents a couple of weeks ago, and as it happens, his grandparents are at war with the neighborhood birds. A family of sparrows refuses to be denied access to the space underneath their patio awning. My parents remove the nest; the sparrows rebuild it. Again and again and again, for months now, and finally my parents just gave up and let them have the nest, and that’s when the sparrows, not content with this minor victory, began pecking holes in the awning itself, removing strings from it in order to build an addition to their nest. I don’t think my parents have figured out yet the sparrows’ goal is to drive them out of the house entirely.

Or maybe my parents have figured that out, because they quickly put Sonny to work as a secret weapon. He put his high-pitched squeal to excellent use, and his Nana and Papa also armed him with a water gun. If it had wings, it got wet. (Also, if it had feet, or was made up of matter.) The sparrows didn’t know what the hell was going on. Clearly, the humans had moved to the next level of the arms race. The sparrows decided, at least temporarily, that life would be more peaceful somewhere else, like Cambodia. Sonny was victorious. Between doing battle with the birds, plus a trip to the golf course with his Papa that included a ride in a golf cart, and nearly nonstop Wii Bowling, Sonny had the time of his young life. He can’t wait to go back. The sparrows, of course, are less enthusiastic about this possibility.

Leading the Witness

July 16, 2009

On Monday, Sonny went bowling with his summer school program. When I got home from work that evening, we had the following conversation:

Me: What did you do today, Sonny?

Sonny: I went to school!

Me: But what did you do at school?


Me: Did you go bowling?

Sonny: Yes! Woohoo!

Me: Did you knock down the pins!

Sonny: Yes!

Me: Did you get a strike?

Sonny: (“That’s ridiculous.”) Nooo…

Me: Well, did you have a good time?

Sonny: Yes!

Me: Who did you bowl with?

Sonny: Chris!

Me: Did your teacher bowl?

Sonny: Yes, she did!

Me: And did you have fun?

Sonny: Yes! Woohoo!

And with that he ran off to play with his blue plastic light saber.

As conversation goes, this isn’t exactly up there with My Dinner With Andre, but it wasn’t that long ago that my attempts to talk to him about his day went absolutely nowhere. It’s gratifying that I can now¬†get some small insights from him, even if I have to get them by asking a whole bunch of yes/no questions.

Except: The next day, Tuesday, he came home with a note saying that he had gone bowling that day. The trip had been postponed from the day before. He never went bowling at all on Monday. Woohoo.