Time enough

Tollie was acting ornery tonight, roaring like the spiky dinosaur that was on the front of the pajamas he picked and rolling around on the floor making it difficult for me to get his feet in the right holes.  I narrowed my eyes at him and asked him to calm down.  He pointed and said: You have eyebrows!  I not have any eyebrows.  My eyebrows come when I get big?  My eyebrows grow and cover my eyes and I can't see?  

Fully-pajamed and ready for books he pressed his whole self into me, like a pet who pushes its head under your hands hoping to be touched.  I rested my palm on top of his head, his hair filling the space between my fingers, and looked into his root beer eyes, reassuring him that his brows will not ever block his vision.  I pulled him onto my lap, knowing my legs would fall asleep under his weight.  Uncle Adam says he's made of dark matter or spent uranium or something equally as dense.  He is a big boy, yet Tollie talks often about growing bigger.  I drink my milk, I grow big?  When I grow big I can sit in the driver's seat?

Tolliver outgrew a slight stuttering phase recently.  Except in it, we didn’t know it was a phase.
He'd been speaking smoothly, but then began drawing out the end of words.  I want-t-t-t my milk-k-k-k in my bed-d-d, please.  It seemed like maybe the peculiarity was a result of his thoughts percolating, words dripping too slowly from his brain to his lips.  He repeated sounds like he was hanging on to the platform for speaking, like if he didn’t keep making noise someone else would chime in before he could finish.

I waited a few weeks before I let concern over his end-of-word-stuttering drive me to asking for expert opinions. The resounding advice was to give him more time, to wait while he spoke and to be patient with the whole pattern because he’d likely outgrow it.
In the classroom, I was pretty good at providing wait time.  After I asked a question I'd look around, praise students for scanning books for evidence to support a good answer, reinforce slow, careful thinking, watch more hands shoot up.  I know that wait time can be learning time, growing time.
When I practiced quieting my first impulse to finish Tollie's sentence or to respond before he was done, it was easy to see that nothing needed to be said.  As I gave him more grace and less bulldozer, he gradually gave up the habit and good things brewed in the quiet.

Good things brew in the quiet.  Good boys grow when we're lucky.

1 comment:

The Wendels said...

Love his chosen spot in the sun! Were you holding a lint roller in the other hand?