Saturday, January 24, 2009

David's first words (beyond echolalia)

One of my favorite things to recount about David is the first time David said something beyond echolalia.

To understand this the reader needs some background. David did not sleep like the rest of us do. When he just turned four years old he was only sleeping 4 hours a night. This was hard on me, but David did not seem to mind. He functioned just fine on 4 hours a night. I would wake up at night hearing a noise downstairs. When I came down, there was David playing in front of the aquarium which was the only light on downstairs. Sometimes David would make a refrigerator raid when he came downstairs. I would know because the refrigerator door was propped open by the bar stool. A gallon of milk was on the floor along with a glass from the cupboard. Milk was puddled around the glass and the glass was half full. I took to staying with David in his room while he fell asleep. Only he did not fall asleep. I did. At one AM I would wake up still holding David next to me and he would be wide awake! When I fell asleep with David in his bed it was painful. My back would be parked in a bad position and I would wake with spasms. At that point I would ask David to stay in his bed and I would go back to my own bed. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it did not.

One summer day I came home from work and found David asleep on the sofa. I was upset.
"Yvette, you let him sleep when you know how little he sleeps at night?" I asked.

My wife was having none of it. "Have you ever tried to wake him when he is napping? He wakes cranky and it very hard to deal with." she replied.

That was true. David is a handful when awaken from a nap. I had done it before. I gathered Lisa and Sean and carried David to the car and strapped him in. We were going to the library and I was going to use the motion of the car to wake him up slowly. When I got to the library I carried David on my shoulders. I could not let go of him because he would run off and I would have a hard time chasing him down even with Lisa and Sean helping me. He liked to be carried on my shoulders and it was a nice compromise that kept me from panicking.

When I got inside the library I suddenly realized that David had been asleep for quite a while and while he was potty trained an accident was still possible, especially when he was waking up ... and on my shoulders... and still groggy... and

"Dave, do you need to pee?" I whimpered. Don't get me wrong. I have changed diapers for all of my children. I have cleaned up every kind of mess they have gotten into. But the thought of having the yellow river flowing down my back made me cringe.

"I nee go baf'oom." He said. My ears were incredulous. My chain flew off its sprockets.

"Wow, David. Yeah!" I had lost it. People must have been looking at me but I did not notice, though Lisa did.

"Dad, this is a library!" she whispered while tugging on my sleeve.

"It sure is!" I exclaimed and I walked swiftly out to where the bathroom was.

When I was taking David to go, I heard a knock on the door. It was Lisa.

"Dad, they can still hear you out here." she stage whispered.

"Okay, Lisa." I said. When David was done we all made a quick exit.

We built on that day and now David while taciturn is capable of being articulate.

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