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Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Lady and the Girl

Lately, Bow has not been saying that much. On the average day, he tells us what he wants to eat, asks to go outside, spells the names of all his foods and asks for his blanket, but there is not a lot of spontaneous communication about much else.

This is different from how it was at first when he started spelling. In those early days he used to talk more about his feelings,  or he would tell very tall tales about the neighbors and people prowling around outside or kidnappers who came to get him when I was away and he was alone with a sitter. In time, all of that died down, because he realized nobody believed him, and since the lies made no real impression, he just went into routine mode. "Give me an apple... I want my blanket."  When the things he says are that predictable, we sometimes question whether he has language at all.

People who start reading this blog can go for a long time and not even know that Bow can write and that he has language, because I just tell about our day to day experiences.

Well, yesterday was a Wednesday, and in addition to telling Lawrence what he wanted to eat, ("I want an apple"),  Bow also spelled: "And the lady is coming to see me."

There is a woman who makes deliveries here, and she and her little girl have been coming on Wednesdays around noon for the past few months. The little girl is very interested in Bow, but Bow usually hides in a corner and refuses to interact when they come. You would think he didn't like them, the way he has been acting.

Today, they were late. I was waiting for them after lunch, and since Bow had Lawrence, I thought I would meet them outdoors so as not to disrupt Bow's lunch.

Bow, seeing me outside, and having the idea that I was planning to intercept them before they came in, spelled to Lawrence: "Tell Momma to come in. I am done eating, and I want to see the lady and the girl."

Lawrence told me, so I asked them to come in and talk to Bow, and this time he did not stay hidden in a corner. He came to the door and interacted with them through the grid, being sweet and gentle and showing an affectionate interest in both of them and especially in the little girl.

Bow can surprise us. He does say spontaneous and unexpected things. It just doesn't happen every day.

This picture has nothing to do with the story I just told you, but it helps to always have an image in every post!


  1. Since chimpanzees seem to be so closely related to humans, I wonder if Bow is "bored" or "depressed". Does he ever go on outings anywhere? Is it even possible to take him anywhere?

    1. Bow is not depressed, though sometimes he is bored. We used to go on outings, but we cannot anymore, because it would not be safe. It would not be safe, not so much because Bow would do something bad to people, but because if authorities encountered him in the open, they would probably shoot first and ask questions later.

      Both Bow and I sometimes chafe against our confinement. But we do have meaningful lives anyway, and he is never alone when he wants company, has control of his own indoor and outdoor space, can ask for what he wants and express his dominance when he needs to.

      What I told here is a happy story, not a sad one. He goes for a long time without saying anything spontaneous, because much of our life is routine. It's not that different from when my grandmother told me once that she and my grandfather did not need to talk because they knew each other so well. It seemed like a bad thing to me at the time, but that kind of familiarity is not all bad. It does not necessarily indicate that something is wrong.

      Spontaneous acts stand out because they are rare.Most humans don't say anything all that interesting every day, either.

    2. I agree that a lot of humans don't have a lot of interesting things to say either. That's sad that you'd have to worry about authorities if you took him out.
      I would definitely chafe against the confinement you and Bow experience. I think it is awesome that if he does want to express himself that he can at least communicate his feelings, wants & needs to you.

  2. Perhaps Bow is just going through a period where he does not have much to say. I am a good conversationalist, but I know in my case, anyway, I do not say much in certain situations because some people do not seem interested in what I have to say. I know that is not the case with Bow, but perhaps he is just saving up his words for another day. I think it is nice he wanted to see the lady yesterday.

    1. Hi, Julia, I think you are right. Bow does not feel the need to say anything unless he actually has something new to say. To some extent, many of us are that way. It was nice, though, that he decided he wanted to see the lady and the girl, and he had enough initiative to make that happen yesterday by expressing himself in words.

    2. I remember in the past being excited about having an observation to make, but then certain people did not seem all that interested. I know it is not entirely me because I have been in numerous situations where conversation is easier, and much more free flowing, but when I am around people who do not share my interests, I just find I go a bit quiet on my western front. Why talk about something if I am only talking to myself, which is how I feel. I think the lady and the girl was a big thing for Bow, so it is magnificent that he articulated his desire to see them.