“Which one do we wear?” He pointed to the right one in the next row and said, “Hat!”
“Show me an animal.” He chirped, “Frog!” and pointed to the right card.
“Something we ride?” “Scooter!”
I shuffled the array of Memory cards on the dining room rug. “Carlos–find something we have at a birthday party.” He searched through the rows of pictures. “Pwesents!”
“Wonderful! Can you find something else that we have at birthday parties?” I tried to light up the little picture of balloons with the power of my stare. He didn’t notice it. Finally, after he had lost interest in that question, I said, “How about the balloons? We have balloons at birthday parties.” He grabbed up the balloon card and pressed it together with the picture of presents. “Ballooooooons!”
I looked up to find that G was watching us from the doorway. He had gone in to work for a few hours while I stayed home with Carlos. I told him, “Hey, watch this!”
I pulled a little alphabet abacus kind of toy over to Carlos and said, “Carlos? What letter is this?”
“Yes! What letter is this?”
“F! Fuh-fuh-fuh…” His attention wandered back to the Memory cards. The toy has a little row of people at the bottom, each with a different numeral from 1-10 and a different facial expression.
“Carlos? Can you find someone who is sad?” He looked up and down the row then poked an image of a girl with a downturned mouth and a tear spouting from her eye. “Nine!”
“Yes! Good job! Can you find someone who looks angry?” He considered carefully then answered, “Six!” Yep. That boy’s eyebrows came together in a sharp V shape and his mouth was a straight line.
“Yes! He looks angry. Can you find a silly boy?” He pointed to 10 and mimicked the way the boy was sticking his tongue out of the side of his mouth.
That made G laugh. Carlos hopped up from the rug and ran to give G a hug. That was my sign that our game had come to an end. After Carlos wandered off into the den with the stack of Memory cards crammed into a circus train caboose, G gave me a hug and asked if I was OK.
I said, “I read that report from his last evaluation and got a little nervous about today.” “REALLY?” G snickered and nodded at the dining room.
In the two hours he had been gone, I had turned it into a learning lab. We had played hide and seek in the big cardboard box (cooperative play). We had played Memory (receptive language). We had stacked objects into the train cars (fine motor) and climbed in out around and through the box (gross motor). And all of this while he was bare ass nekkid because it is TIME to get this potty training thing locked up. I even had Sesame Street playing in the other room for good measure. I had the day off and I WAS GOING TO FIX THIS. Whatever it is.
Remember that story I wrote a while back about Carlos having some kind of speech issue–“How Could I Have Missed This?” Today was Chapter Two. Today was the day we took Carlos to the Marcus Autism Center for testing. There–I said it. I said the A-Word.
And guess what?
Maybe, maybe not. If so, not very.
Because, y’know, he’s three and it’s hard to tell at this age.
In the end, the conclusion was “Keep up the good work.” And we’ll go back in six months and see a developmental pediatrician. By then I will either have chilled out a little, or sold the dining room table to buy more flashcards.
As his mom, I am going to do everything in my power to get him what he needs. And I’m going to do everything in my power to understand what is–and isn’t–in my power.