Cadbury: Sensing you were at a loose end, I've arranged for a little entertainment.

Richie Rich: I'm really not in the mood for the Vienna Boys' Choir today.

Cadbury: Sadly, the choir was unavailable, sir. But I did make other arrangements.

Richie: I don't believe it. [Gloria, Pee-Wee, and Omar enter the scene from around the corner] Thanks, Cadbury, I owe you one. . . Hi, guys.

Pee-Wee: Just checking out your crib, here.

Richie: Crib?

Cadbury: I believe that's street slang for "home," sir. An idiom.

Omar: Who you calling an idiom?

~ ~ ~

Tony Robbins once said,

“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”

This is no truer then at our house.

Years ago, when Ethan was probably six, he came downstairs and appeared to be gagging on something. He wasn't choking, but clearly something had crossed his lips that was making him want to gag, and he wanted to spit it out.

Had he swallowed something poisonous?

Had he drank some household cleaner?

I held his face, and asked him "What happened?"

We had yet to master the W, H words (we have still not mastered the W, H words), so his only response was the same canned response we got with any question we asked him.

"I don't know Dad . . ."
  • How was school today?   I don't know Dad.
  • Did you sleep good?   I don't know Dad.
  • What color is your shirt?   I don't know Dad.
  • Are you hungry?   I don't know Dad.
  • Would you like a cheeseburger?   I don't know Dad.
. . . I asked again, this time changing the question slightly. Again his answer was, "I don't know Dad."

Four more times I asked the question, each time trying a different approach. Regardless of the question the answer remained the same . . .

"I don't know Dad."

His gagging increased . . .

The saliva dripped from his mouth more rapidly . . .

Each gag exponentially increased my fears and concerns as to what happened.

I ran upstairs and scoured each room, looking for clues to what he might have gotten into. I finally found the culprit in the hall bathroom. There on the floor was a small bowl of potpourri. It had been knocked over, and one of the sea shells from the container was wet.

He had placed the shell in his mouth, and realized it was covered with perfume!

I don't blame him, it would have caused me to gag!

Fortunately, though unpleasant, it was not critical. A towel wiped out his mouth and a glass of juice cleansed the remaining taste from his tongue.

It was then I decided I would give anything to be able to communicate with my son. I didn't care if we spoke of anything important, I just wanted to be able to ask him a simple question, any question, and have him know what I was asking!

Eventually, Ethan developed his own special style of communicating.

We still struggle with the W, H questions, but we are making progress. For instance we have discovered that when we ask him, "How was school today?" His response, "I am fine . . . I had fun," actually means,
I had a good day. I didn't get in trouble, expelled, put in timeout, and the vice principle over student behavior SHOULD NOT be calling . . .
Most of his communication consists of quotations from movies, and morphed sentences, tangled with syntax, semantic, and organizational "noise," as they call it, and unless you understand the context you can miss his point completely. Here are a few examples:

Phrase: . . . [insert any name] is trying to kill me!
Meaning: . . . I may be mistaken, but I perceive [insert any name] is upset with me over something I've done.

Phrase: Oops, I farted with my butt.

Meaning: Excuse me, I farted in traditional fashion. Not by making handless arm pit farts as I traditionally do, when it is quiet, and making farting sounds would be embarrassing!

Phrase: Every year, all day, because Emma is trying to kill me.
Meaning: I'm getting a little annoyed playing with Emma. We have come to a cross roads in our relationship and I no longer desire to play this game with her.

Phrase: Almost there . . .
Meaning: I am in the middle of going to the bathroom, and I haven't quite reached that point where I am finished. 

Phrase: Oh, sorry, sorry . . .
Meaning: I'm not sure why I am laying naked on this blanket in my room quoting movies I haven't seen in years, but I was thinking about getting dressed eventually.

Phrase: Yesterday, when I was a baby, did you . . . ?
Meaning: I was just reminiscing about when I was a small child-by the way everything in the past is considered 'yesterday' in my mind-but, while reminiscing I specifically recall in vivid images that you used to . . .

Phrase: I think [insert anything] is too hard
Meaning: My anxiety is going to boil over if I have to put up with this [insert anything] much longer. Get me out of here, or this is going to get ugly.

Phrase: Dad, I want to give you a kiss!
Meaning: Oops, I was just caught doing something very bad, and to divert attention away from it, let me be overly affectionate and remind you how sweet of a boy I am to lessen the blow I am about to be dealt for . . .

Phrase:  Everybody shut up!
Meaning: Excuse me, I was just thinking of something quite funny-at least to me-and I feel strongly that you would be quite touched by my recitation of this matter, and I must have your full and complete attention post haste! 

Phrase: Dad, you forgot something?
Meaning:  Dad, I just did something that I think is very noteworthy, and you need to respond appropriately by telling me, "That's my boy!"

Occasionally, Ethan even uses sign language to communicate.

He picked it up watching Signing Time with Alex and Leah.

When I first noticed this pattern of communication, he had gone hours and had not said a word to me. Suddenly he tapped my arm and made a sign with his right hand opened with his fingers extended and spread out. He then tapped the tip of his thumb on his forehead.

I had no idea what in the world he wanted. He just kept looking at me and kept tapping his thumb on his forehead.

What in the world did this mean!?!

Eventually I discovered (Emma told me) that was the sign for "Dad."

The moment I discovered the meaning, I was deeply impressed.

No, I was touched.

The "Dad" sign was then followed by another sign.

He held up his right hand. His ring and pinkie fingers were tucked into the palm of his hand while his thumb, index and middle fingers were extended and spread like jaws of a shark. He suddenly shut the three fingers, bringing their tips together, as if a trap had suddenly sprang shut.

What was this sign?

He kept repeating the two signs over, and over . . .

Bewildered, I asked him what he wanted. He was in no mood to speak, he just kept giving me the hand signs for "Dad," and the mysterious three fingered sign.


Emma didn't know. Finally Evie arrived. I pointed out what he was doing.

She smirked, and said, "He's mad at you and is telling you, 'NO!'"

REMEMBER: Be Careful What You Ask For . . .

. . . It could just turn out to be an absolute JOY!!

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