Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Social skills lessons with the cats
I hit on something fun the other day with the cats and Janey. Generally, Janey acts like the cats don't exist. It's kind of like I picture the regular world and the magical Harry Potter world interacting. They share the same space, but they just don't usually see each other. The cats can get right on Janey's lap, and she acts like it's not happening. And if you know cats, you know that they are not very hurt by this, and in fact like her a lot for her indifference. But sometimes I wish she liked them. One of them, Gusta (short for Augusta, which was actually one of the names we were thinking of for Janey) was sitting around recently looking at Janey. I said to Gusta "Say Hi to Janey, Gusta! HI!, Gusta! What do you say to Janey? HI, GUSTA!" It's the kind of thing we say to Janey, to try to get her to say hi. Of course, Gusta wasn't buying, but Janey actually got it and laughed and laughed. Then she started saying it too "Hi, Gusta! HI! Say HI, Gusta" and added on "Look at me and say hi!" Since then, she wants to play the game over and over. I think it appeals to her that the cats are far worse at it than her. I'm not sure she gets that the cats are in fact SO bad at it that no amount of coaching will EVER make them say hi, but that doesn't matter. It takes the focus off her while giving her some practice, and the cats do interesting things that stuffed animals in that role wouldn't do, like sometimes jump down and go away while I call after them "Gusta! That wasn't very polite! You could have at least given Janey a High Five!" which got her laughing again. It's probably good for me too, as I struggle not to ever say things like that to Janey, but the rules are different for cats, who are not being affected in terms of their feelings or their long-term development, which, to make a run-on sentence, is one of the reasons I love cats. And we need silly, fun times with Janey. Lately she is really wearing me out. She's still "testing limits", which is the polite term for being extra naughty. I think it's a step forward in the very long view, but it added to often not getting good sleep and just the general life with a disabled child is enough to send me into long naps during my precious daytime alone time. So I have to grab fun with her when I can. And hey, maybe one day the cats WILL say hi back. Or at least master the high five.