This morning featured a scenario that plays out over and over again with Janey. She asked me for oatmeal for breakfast. We had one little packet of it, and I made that for her. She ate it eagerly, and then, again, asked for oatmeal. I told her we didn't have any more. Within about a minute, she came back over, saying "Want oatmeal!" I again told her we were out of oatmeal. Over and over she came back and asked for it, varying things a little by sometimes saying please, sometimes saying "Want oatmeal right now" and sometimes just bringing me a bowl and looking sad. I took her a couple times to the bin where we keep the oatmeal to show her there wasn't any, I offered her several alternatives, I told her we'd go later to the store and get oatmeal, but as always, none of that worked. She seemed totally convinced that if I really wanted to, I'd have some oatmeal to give her.
It made me think that Janey probably thinks I can do anything I want. Hey, sometimes I tell her no to more chocolate or candy, and then in a few minutes, suddenly I give in and give her more---so what's different about the oatmeal? People can say no, and then it changes to yes! Or it might not even be that complicated. It might just be that she truly pictures that I can make things happen, make things appear.
The theory of mind bit comes in here. I am quite sure Janey doesn't get that what is in her mind isn't public. She'll often come over to me with a remote, and I'll say "What do you want to watch?" and she'll say "That one!" I say "Which one do you mean? I don't know what you are thinking!" and she'll get increasingly frustrated---saying "THAT ONE! WANT THAT ONE!" In her mind, I'm sure it's perfectly clear, and she doesn't get that I don't know what she means. Sometimes, of course, she does ask for things by name, but I think that's when the name is coming easily to her verbally. Often, words don't, but in her head, there's a picture or in her case, more likely, some bits of dialogue or music, and she figures that's good enough. This probably isn't helped by the times I really do know perfectly well what she means, and still try to get her to say it. She'll bring me a soda bottle and a glass and look at me beseechingly, and I'll say "Tell me what you want" when it would be obvious to anyone what she wants. So she might figure that the pesky insistence on saying out loud what she wants is some kind of quirk of mine that I pull up at certain times.
When Janey is crying or screaming or hysterical, I'm pretty sure then too she thinks I know what is wrong, and am just not helping. And even if what is bothering her is something I'd have no way to help, like a noise on the street or it being the weekend when she wants to go to school, she doesn't get that. I could help, in her mind, if I wanted to. I'm just not, for whatever reason.
I need to try to keep this view in mind when talking to Janey. I think I'm going to try not to ever pretend I don't get her when I do, just to get her to say the word, and I'm going to try to think of a way to tell her when I can't do or know something. I had some luck a few times with a song I made up for the car when she would ask for things in the car I couldn't get, like toys that were at home or for me to cook bacon or something. I'd sing "IT'S IMPOSSIBLE...to make bacon in the car" repeated 3 or 4 times, and after a while she'd quote that. Maybe if I keep my message consistent, she might, if not understand, at least know what to expect from me. I'm going to try.