Saturday, January 16, 2010


I have this pipe dream (insert therapist's voice here - "Glad to know you recognize it as a pipe dream, Mary") that someday I am going to have a meaningful conversation with Philip.  I just want it to happen so badly that I do everything in my power to set it up only to have it fail again and again.  Phililp is just simply not capable of meaningful conversation.  His idea of conversation is spouting off ad nauseum about his favorite computer game or movie lines.  That's about it.  He spouts, I listen (or within about 3 seconds cease to listen because he really doesn't care if I'm listening or not he just cares about his right to spout).  At 12 he's still shouting out "Look!  A dump truck!" every time we drive by one on the highway.  Cute retention of his childlike naivete and wonder with the world but not so much on the fodder for meaningful conversation.

Ever since The Finger incident (broken pinky from going down a slide head-first just two days before his appointment with the ped to discuss meds for impulse control) I've had plenty of time to spend with just Philip working on said meaningful conversation skills.  We've had lots of appointments to doctors and xrays. 

He likes to sit in the front seat of the van but he doesn't *do* anything there.  He just sits.  Our conversation might go like this

So, whatcha thinkin' about?

Blank stare

You're looking out the window, I bet you have something on your mind.

Blank stare

A movie?  Something you see outside?

Look! A dumptruck!

Yep, there's a dumptruck.

Walking from the car to the doctor's office is also an exercise in socialization.  He always walks precisely three steps behind me.  I've tried in vain every time to explain to him that if he keeps step with me and we walk side by side we can chit chat as we walk and this is something people like to do.  He walks exactly two steps behind me...for about three steps...and then he's right back where he started from.  I gave up on that one.  I'm sure anyone watching us is convinced that I'm a selfish mom who doesn't bother to grab those precious moments alone with my son...or they just think he's being a moody preteen...neither could be further from the truth.

So there we are in the waiting room.  Magazines have interesting pictures and articles.  I try to use an issue of Sports Illustrated as a spring board for some serious mother-son bonding.  I find an article about a football player he enjoys watching on tv and then get called to the receptionist. 

You read that article, I'll be right back and why don't you tell me about it.

I return, skim over the article, and realize it's a description of the man's prison term he served and how he's walking in his father's footsteps.  Now suddenly I'm hoping Philip *didn't* pick up on that...

So what did you read?

I read about him, points to picture of football player.

And what did you read about him?

He plays football.

Yes, he does.  Did you read that?

Yes.  (ok, now he gets an F in reading comprehension for which I am strangely grateful)

Did you find out anything else interesting about him?

He tackles people?

Wide receiver - probably not - but at least he's riffing on something besides movie lines and computer games.

We get called in for the xray and  I now have the pleasure of watching someone *else* struggle to communicate with my son. 

Philip, can you put your hand on this table like this?

He turns it to and fro but cannot figure out how to make it look like the technician's positioning.

So how did you injure your finger?

He looks at me.

I wait for him to answer his own durn question.

On the slide.

Oh, did you fall on it?

He looks at me.

I wait for him to answer his durn question.

Yeah, I went *waves hands around and makes slippery slide sound effects*

At this point the tech looks at me and says "Can you get him to put his hand like this?"

Sure, lady, got a picture of a dump truck?

Our last trip to the imaging center I decided to try to chat with him about his upcoming musical rehearsal.  Last year they did Music Man and he loved it - it was awesome.  Surely he'd like to hear about this year's plans.

You have Staccatos practice tonight!

Blank stare.

Staccatos - you remember last year when you did Music Man?  You loved it!

Blank stare.

Do you want to know what you'll be singing this year?

Confused look.

This year is all songs from early rock and roll.  Like you might be singing....maybe...Elvis...or songs by the Beatles.



What's an elvis beatle?  (No lie, this is what the boy said to me.  I was so taken aback I went home and grilled Ben about whether or not I had ever educated them about The King.  He immediately began to rattle off a long string of lines from songs, two parodies he'd seen about Elvis and a whole rash of other Elvis trivia which assuaged my guilt about never having exposed my children to such a pop icon.)

So the next day we are off to see the orthopedist.  I've about given up at this point.  At any rate, I'm not going to try for another awkward and disappointing car conversation so we just drive in silence until Philip, on his own steam, looks at me and says

Mom, why is Govorner O'Malley going to give us all jobs?

Uh huh.  Why indeed.  Well, son, ever since the economy tanked lots of people are out of jobs and so he wants us to believe that he's helping.

Oh.  Is that why he's spending so much money?

No, he's spending money because he's a Democrat.

Apparently, he *was* reading those billboards and road signs all along and I just didn't think to engage him in socio-political analysis.  Silly me.  Next time he breaks a limb I'll know.


elizabeth said...

that would be hard. maybe silence works for him to suddenly say something to you.

You wrote this so well - I can see how much you wish him to progress.

My love to you this day!

Alana said...

I can relate to much of what you write. Ha!