Dad’s Doing Silly Talking
Last night, Steven told me off. It was brilliant. It was humbling. I don’t think it’s ever happened before. I felt one inch tall. I went back in time 46 years to that day at summer camp where I boasted to my friends that I could do “really cool reggae dancing” to Double Barrel by Dave & Ansil Collins. And my world came tumbling down as I did my cool reggae dancing and Sharon Martyn laughed.
Steven and I were doing a music dvd session and watching The Pet Shop Boys & Dusty Springfield. Steven has always seem to have had a very straight forward understanding of death. The deceased has a “bad” something or other. And when we’ve agreed which part of their body has gone “bad”, he follows it up with his certainty that it’s gone bad because they “bashed it” on something. I don’t think he understands how things can go wrong internally without being bashed. We bash things and if we’re unlucky, that leads to death.
He’s had a black toenail for a couple of days after catching his foot on the edge of the fridge. I don’t think he’s thought that he’s going to die. But the sequence of events work for Steven. Bashed his toe on the fridge – pain – bruised foot.
Yes. Dusty Springfield. Steven has known for ages that she died. This is how the conversation went:
Steven: Dad – Dusty Springfield’s died.
Me: Yes mate. Dusty Springfield has died.
Steven: Dusty Springfield had a bad chest.
Me: Yes mate. Dusty Springfield had a bad chest.
Steven: Bashed her chest on the ……?
Me: Bashed her chest on the garden gate mate.
Steven: That’s silly talking Dad. Talk sensible.
I was stopped in my tracks. Have we entered a new phase in our relationship? Have my autopsy reports been spotted for the fraud they are? Is it time to go in for proper medical reasons?
Steven: Can’t bash her chest on the garden gate. Garden gate is too small. Dusty Springfield bashed her chest on the floor when she fell off the comfy chair.
I didn’t want to argue that the living room floor is even lower than the garden gate. Dr Neary was satisfied with his diagnosis.
All this talk of silly talking took me back to 2010 and the visit from the Speech Therapist to teach me and two support workers how to talk to Steven. She had decided that Steven didn’t understand sentences with more than four words in. And when it came to instructions, every vowel had to be “stretched out like a piece of plasticine”. She wanted to observe us supporting Steven whilst he made some cheese on toast. When it got to the part of me saying, “Put cheeeese on bread”, Steven looked at me quizzically and said, “Dad’s doing silly talking”. The therapist chuckled and said, “Oh bless him. It might take a while for Steven to get used to this new communication”. I chuckled back in an embarrassed fashion whereas what I really should have said was, “No. Steven is spot on. This is silly talking. Excuse me a minute. Steve – you know how to make cheese on toast don’t you? You get on and do it and I’ll go and watch Loose Women”.
I wish I could talk like Steven. I wish I could cut straight through the nonsense. Instead of saying how it really is, I bumble and stutter and try to be tactful. It never works. And I end up furious with myself for being so incongruent.
New home. No more plasticine.