Read to your children. It actually was one of the few parenting rules I followed (though you’d never know it since my teenagers now only open books with Lifesavers in them). When my girls were young, I read to them every night, even when the books they selected became mundane. “Yeah, yeah, goodnight moon. Goodnight stars. Goodnight blah, blah, blah.”
And now that my kids are teens, some of the books they used to love don’t even make sense to me anymore “Pat, why would that mother look for her runaway bunny when she can get a few hours of peace and quiet?”
There was, however, a series of books I never got tired of reading to my children — Amelia Bedelia books. For those who have not met Amelia Bedelia, she is a literal housekeeper — a loveable, hard-working lady who makes sponge cake using real sponges. Back then, I didn’t know how much I would relate to Amelia Bedelia (we bake similarly) or that I’d be raising two children with language-based learning disabilities who think just like her.
Their disabilities make them very concrete thinkers (the non-cement kind) and cause them to struggle with understanding the nuances of language. My oldest daughter demonstrated this after I had a discussion with her about how important it is for “Mothers to know where their children are and what they are doing at all times.” A few minutes after our discussion, I found a note on the kitchen table that said, “Mom, it’s Katie. I’m in my room and I’m flapping my hands.”
My daughters’ language difficulties have made me more aware of the words and clichés I throw around (no need to duck). They have also made me realize that in the special needs community, there are lots of Amelia Bedelias. And in the spirit of that loveable character, here are some funny stories shared by special needs parents about their literal thinkers:
- After a lot of umming and ahhing, my husband told our child with autism to “spit it out.” Not surprisingly, he followed up with a few minutes of spitting.
- I said, “Get out of here! Like no way. You’ve got to be joking!” My son got up, walked out of the house, and stood on the porch not sure of what to do next!
- I told my little one “Get me all the empty hangers you can find.” He came back with like 100 hangers. I was impressed until I went to my closet and saw that he took my clothes off them and brought me the hangers.
- When I was a nanny I wore a crucifix necklace. The little girl I watched pointed to it and asked, “Who is that?” I said “Jesus” and she said,” I didn’t know he was so small.” She is 20 now and goes to Columbia University!
- My son was asked if he was ready for therapy. His comment was “Duh I signed the paperwork.”
- I told my kids I was going to sell them to the gypsies if they didn’t behave. They believed me and cried or hours.
- I told my then eight-year daughter with a form of autism that I needed to jump into the shower. She said, “No Mommy. Don’t jump in the shower. You’ll fall and hurt yourself.”
- An elderly man asked my son “What are you going to be when you grow up?” ‘ My son said, “A man.”
- My daughter said, “Yesterday you told me today was tomorrow. Are you tricking me?”
- My son’s speech therapist told him, “I think you need to work for Apple when you grow up.” My son replied, “Yeah, Grandpa says I need to eat my veggies, too.”
Do you have a funny, literal story to share? Tell us about it. We’re all ears (well, not really).