Yesterday evening I was doing a new HANDLE exercise with Martin called “Airplane Flagger.” Martin lay on his back on the floor, and I manipulated his arms: from his chest outward, from flat at his sides to over his head. At some point Martin mistook Airplane Flagger for “prelude to tickles,” which is not a HANDLE exercise but a fun game when I pin his hands above his head in order to tickle his underarms.
I figured, What the hay. Let’s make it tickle time, and set to tickling. I just love the joy of his unadulterated little-boy laughter.
A few seconds later I released his arms and let him catch his breath. I waited, poised above him, fingers pressed together in tickle-threat formation, holding Martin’s expectant gaze as RDI suggests. Martin could hardly contain his anticipation. “Again,” he said between gasps. “Again.”
So steady was Martin’s eye contact, I had to draw the moment out. I leaned closer and asked, “What? Whaaaaaat?”
And he produced the most beautiful words, ever.
He focused his eyes on my face, deliberately. He paused and considered. Finally, he said without bewilderment or guess, with the self-assurance of an accomplished orator:
“I want you to do that again.”
The sentence nearly overcame me. Instantly I analyzed it. An original thought, not heard and repeated. Subject. Object. Infinitive phrase. Adverb modifier. Perfection.
Martin’s previous best sentence, to my knowledge, came six or seven weeks ago, before he tumbled into the distraction that characterized last month. Dinner had just concluded. Adrian gathered Martin and announced bedtime. Martin became mildly distressed and protested, “I want to do sleepytime with Mommy.” That was a good, solid sentence—also included an infinitive phrase, and threw in a preposition—but “I want you to do that again” exceeds it in complexity, and requires proper use of both “I” and “you.” Prepositions are sand traps for an echolalic boy; he repeats what we call him (“you”), instead of registering the interconnectedness (the speaker is “I”). Perhaps we are approaching a milestone in his understanding.
Once my shock faded, as you can well imagine, I acceded to his wish and tickled. Again.
My son is a miracle.