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Thursday, June 28, 2012

What I did on my day off

Yesterday was my day off, and I made my usual run to the grocery store and the post office and to Wal*Mart. But instead of going anywhere else to relax, afterwards, I decided to have a little rest and relaxation close to home. Sword and I discovered the back yard behind the back yard.

While Bow and Lawrence had a fine time in the outer pens playing, and then went in to have lunch on their own, I set up some lawn chairs and a folding table and a hula hoop and bubbles on the lawn just behind the fenced back yard. There, between two large pines, and with our woods as a peaceful background behind us, we had a nice lunch, and then blew bubbles and played with the hula hoop. We also brought out each of the dogs, one at a time, to play with us out there. (Teyman was offended even by the appearance of  Brownie, with whom she's usually on grudgingly peaceful terms, in this new setting,  so this necessitated the complete apartheid treatment.)

Sometimes it is not necessary to go far in order to have a vacation, or to spend much in order to enjoy yourself. For instance, the three dollar solar garden light I got at Wal*Mart provided me with plenty of amusement well into the night.

Bow gets a break from me on Wednesdays, as he has Lawrence to wrestle and play with. I can take a short break, too, and it does not require me to travel miles. A few yards behind the fence is good enough. Bow was aware of our activities, but he did not seem to mind.

This morning, after breakfast was cleared away, Bow asked to go out again. In this series of pictures, can you spot Leo in the yard behind Bow?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Bow and Blackberries

The problem with having fruit in season is that when there is plenty of it, sometimes people get tired of eating it. I have been walking Teyman every morning and every evening and picking blackberries during our walks. At first, Bow really liked the blackberries, but now he's grown less fond of them and won't finish his share.
There is an economic lesson in this for us all: do not overproduce lest you reduce the market value of your product.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

After Breakfast Conversation

Today after breakfast Bow took my hand and spelled: "I have time to talk now." I thought that was a little funny, because it seemed to imply that he's so busy the rest of the day that there simply isn't enough time to talk.

"You have time to talk?" I echoed.

 "Yes," he spelled. "I have time to talk to Mommy."

"Well, what do you have to say?"

"That Mommy will not die fast."

"You think that I won't die fast?" I asked. It was not clear what he meant.

He rephrased: "Don't die fast."

"Oh, you're telling me not to die fast."


He has mentioned before that he was worried about that. He has been noticing that I am aging, and he is concerned. There is really no particular cause for concern, but it's true that if I were a chimpanzee in the wild, I'd probably be dead by now, just on account of my age. Bow is extremely dependent on me, and he worries about what will happen to him after I am gone.

I asked him what he thought I should do in order not to die fast. He told me not to eat too much. But as soon as that advice was handed out, he lost all interest in the topic and asked to go outside.

Once there, he got agitated by Brownie's barking, displayed a little, and then went back to the quiet contemplation of nature.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

When Bow is Full

Because Teyman cannot be left alone with the new puppy, Leo, we have taken to allowing Brownie and Leo free run of the backyard, while Teyman who is older, stays longer indoors and gets walked on a leash in our front yard. Sword and I take turns walking Teyman, and Bow seems to accept that I get to take an early morning walk with Teyman before I serve breakfast to him in the pens.

This morning, while on my walk with Teyman, I stopped to pick some blackberries by the fence to the pasture, and I served them to Bow along with his usual bunch of grapes. Bow asked for the grapes first, but I got distracted, and started to give him the blackberries, instead. He stared at me and did not budge, making no move to take the blackberries from me. "Oh. Right. You said grapes." So I went back and got the grapes. He finished the grapes, asked for the blackberries, finished the blackberries, and then asked for "just milk."

Normally, at this point he would have asked for cereal. There was a bowl and spoon on his table, all in readiness for that. But since he asked for just milk, I took the spoon away and poured milk into the bowl. He drank a little, then handed me the bowl that was still full of milk. "Thank you," he spelled. "Give me a blanket."

The "thank you" was surprising. He does say it sometimes, but it's only on rare occasions. I'm not one of those parents who insist on "thank you" and "please" all the time. So when he does say "thank you", he must really mean it.

He then asked for a blanket and started playing with it. It's only  a small remnant of blanket that is left of the one he got for Christmas, but he's happy with it.

It's nice that he knows when he is full, and it's a good development that he no longer makes a mess with excess food. If he doesn't want to finish, he just gives the remainder back.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Choosing to Go Outside

We all have choices. Sometimes we take them for granted, and sometimes we feel unduly fenced in by the choices that we have made in the past, so that we don't think we can just choose anything we want today. No, not everything is available to us, but we can choose from what is.

Bow and I interact all the time, every day. Every interaction is a choice. Even not interacting is a choice. Bow asks for food, for a blanket or a shirt, a toy or just to play together. He can also choose to stay indoors or to go out.

With me, Bow does not tend to ask to go out as often as he does with Lawrence. He is content for hours at a time to play indoors. For a while, it almost seemed that he had forgotten that going outside was a choice with me.

But in the past few months, he's asked to go outside a lot more, and he's okay with my going back in, while he suns himself, listens to the birds chirp, watches the dogs at play and even provokes a little mischief. He is not worried that I will run out on him, as I am usually in the inner pen, working on my computer, proofing books, and he can summon me at a moment's notice. This is a small step toward independence for both of us, but it has been a long time in coming, and it's nice and comfortable now.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Early Morning Contentment

Last night I went with my daughter and one of her friends to the local picnic. It is in reality a carnival with rides, concession stands, and local music and dancing. But the locals are modest, so they just call it  a picnic. It's a picnic that lasts three days and comes alive at night.

When my daughter was little -- and she was two when we moved here -- she clung to my hand and needed me to accompany her on all the rides. But now she is twelve going on thirteen, and she has friends to go on all the rides with, and so I let the girls go their own way, and I sat in the stands and listened to the country music, and watched the couples dance. Many of them were elderly, but it did not keep them from dancing and showing affection in public. There were also threesomes on the dance floor sometimes, two women with a man, usually. And there were grandmothers dancing with grandchildren and fathers holding their small children in their arms while they danced.

It was nice watching the humans celebrate their lives and their community and their connectedness. Most of it was not in the words. It was in the smiles and the gestures.

We stayed quite late, and as usual I got up early and had breakfast with Bow, while Sword slept. I was listening to Lea Salonga sing "I Dreamed a Dream" on Youtube after breakfast, and I invited Bow to dance with me. But he took my hand and spelled: "That is not a good song." Then he asked to go outside.

So we went outside and the birds were chirping, and the sun was shining, and all was right with the world. Contentment and a feeling of community can come in many ways. Bow was happy, and so was I.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The End of An Era: Orchard House Rented Out

Yesterday I signed a lease and rented Orchard House out. It is the end of an era. There will be no  more interns staying at our guest house, and Bow and I need the income from the rental to keep going.

Orchard House was originally purchased to give interns a place to stay while they volunteered with Project Bow. At one time, Bow would commute from our current home to Orchard House several days a week, to have floortime sessions in a different learning environment. We had a playroom with a swing, a different set of toys, and there was even a real child's toilet that flushed, very low to the ground, like the ones they sometimes have in preschools, for him to use. We had a little school house set up in an outbuilding, with a real chalkboard and school desks. Hopefully, the children of our tenants will now enjoy those facilities.

Bow's visits to Orchard House ended in the Spring of 2007 when he and I became confined to the pens here. But for several years after that, interns would stay at Orchard House and make the drive over to this house to work with Bow.

Does Bow need floortime sessions anymore to learn language? No. He already has picked up two languages and literacy. He does not seem interested in learning any other subjects in a formal way, and I'm not going to force him to try. He pays attention to day to day events. When I read a book, he looks at it. If I read it out loud, he will listen. When I watch a video, he watches along. He will sometimes make sweeping pronouncements as a comment on something we watched: "I heard. It is not good for a son not to let a father win." At other times, his concerns are entirely practical. "The hour is three," he will tell me. I have no watch on, but when I go to check, sure enough, it is 3:03. This is important, because between three and three-thirty, I go to the kitchen to put dinner in the oven, and Bow gets a snack when I get back, if he's been good. But he doesn't always tell me that he wants the snack or that I should put dinner in the oven. Sometimes he just tells me what time it is.
It would be good to get some sort of independent confirmation that this is happening, so that I can say that I have proved it. But sometimes proof is not the most important thing. Sometimes just letting it be is okay, too.