Janey has been tough lately. She's been wearing us out, trying out patience, discouraging us a good deal. Last night was no exception. She was cranky, volatile, angry, and we were tired out of our minds. And then, within a very short period of time, she surprised us with her unique and her quirky language three times, and left us laughing instead of crying.
The first incident stemmed from her love/hate relationship with "Little Bear". Little Bear is one of the mildest TV shows you could ever watch, a sweet story of the adventures of a human-like bear, his family and various other animal friends. We really don't get why Janey is so worked up by it. She asks to watch it constantly. When we put it on, she will watch about 5 minutes of it and then blow up, always. She freaks out spectacularly and gently or not turns off the TV. Last night followed that pattern. She asked for it, we said as we always do "But that show makes you very upset! Do you PROMISE not to hit the TV or scream if we put it on?" Yes, we are suckers. We know her promises are not sincere, but we give her another chance, over and over. We put it on, and the same thing happened that always happens. She screamed after a few minutes and slammed her hand into the TV to shut it off. Tony told her to go to bed (it was close to bedtime) and said "I am not proud of you!"
That's when she surprised us. She said back, in a voice familiar to parents of preteens everywhere "I am not proud of you either!" We looked at each other astonished, and couldn't help starting to laugh. It was so unexpected, but at the same time, so typical of a child her age. I'd never heard her use the world "either" before, and she rarely responds to anything in that kind of sentence. We were frankly delighted.
However, she was still supposed to stay in her bed. We lay down with her, trying to get her to sleep. She faked being ready to sleep for a few minutes, and then surprised us the second time. Using a sing-songy silly voice, she said "I have to go potty. I want to make a stinky. I need to make a poopy. I want to have a....(imagine her going on and on for about 10 different words that are euphemisms for needing to use the bathroom)" We had no idea she even knew some of those terms. And we were fairly sure she didn't actually have to use the bathroom in that way, as she already had just a bit earlier, but she knows the one thing that will always allow her to get out of bed. So I took her in, and of course, it was a ruse, but still...we again were shaking our heads and chuckling.
When she was back in bed, surprise number three came along. She said, in a slow and careful voice "acetaminophen". We had given her generic Tylenol over the weekend when she was banging her head and it appeared she had a headache, and she had learned the name somehow from our talking to each other. We asked her if she wanted acetaminophen, and she said yes. We were, again, shocked. It's not an easy word, and not one she's heard a lot.
All three of these happenings illustrate what is so fascinating and at the same time frustrating about Janey. She doesn't learn in traditional ways. You can plug away at trying to teach her the most basic things for literally years, and she shows no sign of having learned them. Or she learns them and then seems to forget them, like with writing her name. But inside her head, there is so much going on, and when the time is just right, it comes out, giving us a tantalizing glimpse of a Janey we wish we could see more often.