Wednesday, December 5, 2007


I can't believe how fast time goes between these entries. I had to stop today and commerate a huge developmental milestone in Grant's life. Anyone who is not Grant's mother probably won't realize how huge this moment was, but believe me, it has been long awaited.

Grant has always been VERY verbal. So verbal, in fact, that as his mother, I find myself saying, uh-hmm, okay, ah, mmm, periodically without much conscious comprehension of what I am hearing. When he was little I used to say he didn't have a thought he didn't express. After awhile, you can't listen to every thought that comes into a 3-5 year old brain. You just can't! As he's gotten older, he doesn't express every thought but he loves to replay his day or a book he's been reading. The only problem is that he gets very bogged down in the details. I think he wants you to feel like you are there, so he spends a great deal of time describing small tidbits of information in the scene to the point you can't remember who he was talking about or what the plot is.

Two weeks or so ago, he was immersed in describing the details of his most recently read novel. Finally, after a twenty minute description (and we had yet to establish a plot) I bravely said for the first time, "Grant, stop. You have completely lost me. You need to give me the back of the book cover version, hit the high points. I know you want me to feel like I've read the book but that will only happen if I read the book. Give me the big picture." I could tell he was hurt and I felt like a terrible mother. But at nine years old, I felt like it was time he started to learn to summarize!

Well tonight, he was telling me about another book they read in class and he started down a rabbit trail but stopped himself and said, "But that isn't important to the story so I don't need to tell you about that." Yeah! And I actually stayed engaged in the story and I understood the plot and we moved on to another topic in less than five minutes! My premenapausal brain was happy. And just as important, Grant was happy because his mom was able to say at the end of his explanation, "That sounds like a really good story."

Like I said, this may not sound that momentous to all of you but it is a huge step for the relationship between this 40-something mother trying to juggle too many thoughts and tasks and her 9 year old son. To give 20 minutes of undivided attention to anything is difficult at best, impossible on average. I'm so excited to be able to meet this need Grant has to be connected in this way without feeling like I am so obviously not up to the task. And I'm so proud of Grant for taking to heart what I said, even when he didn't like it, and adjusting his communication style to accomodate his brain-weary mother.


Jerilyn said...

It is a huge step for a nine year old. I know some adults who have yet to take it. And who need to. Tell Grant it's a very mature thing to be able to do.

And what a great way (and thing) for you to teach him! You girls are always so good at saying just the right thing in just the right way.

Carmen said...

Can he give Ben some pointers? One benefit is that Ben doesn't require that anyone listen, he just likes to talk. When I tell him to be quiet he says, "Be quiet, I can be quiet, see I can be quiet. It's no big deal. I don't know what you're talking about. Hmmm, I am still talking." And then he walks away still talking to himslf, perfectly content to jabber on for his audience of one, himself. Sometimes he does just go to the mirror so he can actually have a conversation with himself as a very interested and animated listener.

A Military Spouse said...

Maybe he comes by it honestly: isn't that why mom always took knitting with her when we visited grandma??
Carmen, I was laughing so much because I often find myself hollering out to Conner to "please lower your voice!" when he's having one of his animated conversations with himself in a room next to one of his sleeping siblings. I've always passed it off as a symptom of being an only child for so long.

judy said...

Well, my Uncle Frank (your grandma's brother) used to say he talked to himself "because he wanted to talk to a smart person once."

Cherilyn said...

I had no idea this was so genetic! My goodness, it's like we're a family of talkaholics. Maybe we need to develop a 12 step program! Either that or lock Conner, Ben, and Grant in a room together so they either figure out what it is like to not get a word in edgewise or get it out of their system.