Sometimes when you’re Different, you just Need a Different Song

One of my favourite children’s books of Joshua’s is ‘Giraffe’s Can’t Dance’, which comes highly recommended. His battered copy of the book – which I sellotaped back together again yesterday – lives here in our holiday cottage. Every night I ask him if he wants ‘Gerald’? and usually he does. But yesterday he took me aback twice : Once in the morning, after I had changed him, he asked me for ‘Giraffe!’, so of course I read him the familiar tale of the giraffe who cannot dance. It is a rhyming story, so it is fun to read as well as listen too, and as it lives here, I do not get too bored of it. I can still hear my Mum’s voice after she had read it to him saying ” what a lovely story Joshua!”

Later in the day, Joshua and I had come upstairs to lie on his bed for a nap in the afternoon – avoiding the football match that was playing in the lounge. We had both dozed off together but Joshua woke first. Often if that happens, I get a smack to wake up with, which is always a rude awakening. But I awoke to hear him rummaging about in the drawer of the bedside table. He then presented me with ‘ Giraffes Can’t Dance’ with a big grin on his face. At home his books are on an open bookshelf and so it is easy to see what you want and to reach it. But he must have watched me take this book out and put it away in the drawer so many times, that he knew where it lived and how to access it. I know that does not sound like much of an achievement, but it is massive : he actually proactively helped himself to something that he wanted, that was not visible.

Since lockdown, Joshua’s communication has come on in leaps and bounds and I delight in every new step, no matter how small, that he takes. The downside is that he can be more cross and vocal if he does not get his way : yesterday afternoon, before our nap, we walked down the village to the waterfall to throw stones in the water for the dogs to fish out. It is a favourite game and the waterfall is a perfect distance walk for him and has a wooden bench for him to sit on while he throws the stones. We had fun and then walked back and came into the back garden. I stopped to take in my washing rather than help him indoors first. He was very cross with me, shouting ‘No..no… no!’ as he stood waiting. He is capable of getting himself up the back step, he had been doing it all day, but he expected me to help him and was objecting that I had put laundry first.

So, having a voice means that he can use it to request things that he wants, but also to object to things that he does not want. We have to take the rough with the smooth and it is a small price to pay for a more engaged, interactive son.

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