Peter is starting to be interested in this column. He hopped in the car a couple of weeks ago and told me he knew what I should write about next time. I eagerly asked Peter about his idea and he said I should write that he won at Bingo, his favorite summer game.
I congratulated Peter on another win, but suggested a whole column on winning Bingo might not be what my readers, other than Grandmas, of course, want to read.
Peter assured me that winning Bingo was pretty important. He also let me ask him what I should tell people that could help kids like him. We had a conversation about what to write about almost all the way home with Bingo information thrown in from time to time.
Finally, Peter decided he would call Grandma about Bingo and I should write about what makes him scared. He said maybe it would help someone not be so scared. He told me noises are really scary, like storms and fireworks. They hurt his ears and the pain scares him.
When Peter was very young, he barely had language. In fact at 4 ½, we finally marked the milestone of regular sentences. The sentences were often short, scripted from television, but sentences.
Now, he was having a real conversation and about a topic I introduced when he had started pretty excited about a different topic. This was one of those milestone moments, almost as great as sentences.
As my family began this journey, I read Stanley Greenspan, M.D.’s theory of Floortime. He suggested that each time we engaged our children we should try to keep a conversation going back and forth for longer and longer periods of time by joining their world. There were days I would only get one or two exchanges.
Throughout the years, I realized I had stopped counting even though most conversations were not as long as I hoped most days. That day, I wish I had counted. Except for a few moments of hearing about how Peter won Bingo, he stayed on topic and it wasn’t even his topic.
So Peter winning Bingo was much more than covering his whole card that day. It was Peter thinking about my work. It was Peter thinking about what others would want to learn. It was Peter feeling proud of himself and wanting to tell others about it.
Oh, and my favorite part of his winning Bingo? Peter won two Hawaiian leis and his teachers asked him to show me the dance he learned. Peter gave me his usual grin as he swayed his hips and moved his hands in a wavelike motion. Bingo!